Gnome Software Not Working? How to Install Deb Files in Ubuntu 16.04

A new software is bound to have some bugs – bugs that go undetected during the entire pre-release phase. Post-release, when users encounter these bugs, they are officially logged and are then fixed after sometime. While this procedure just works in most cases, in case of a major bug that affects some core functionality used in day-to-day affairs, things can get a bit frustrating if it isn’t fixed soon or if the fix takes time to be rolled out to all users.

Case in point: A bug in Ubuntu 16.04’s Gnome Software application that prevents the utility from installing third party .deb files. Although the bug was first reported in April and – as per documented details – was soon fixed, a quick look at the comments section reveals that many users are still facing the issue.

Now it could be that these users (who are saying that the bug still exists) are missing something on their end, but the fact is that they are still stuck and presumably with no idea about how to install a third-party .deb package without Gnome Software. So keeping that in mind, we’ll be discussing a handful of workarounds, explaining how you can install such .deb packages if Gnome Software is not working for you.

If you have been an Ubuntu user for the past few years, you’re likely aware that starting with Ubuntu 16.04, Gnome Software has replaced the Ubuntu Software Center application. So, an easy way out of the third-party .deb installation problem is to re-install and use Ubuntu Software Center instead of Gnome Software.

To bring the Ubuntu Software Center application back, just run the following command:

sudo apt install software-center

While the aforementioned command should work without an issue (it did in my case at-least), just In case you receive a “package missing” kind of error, you can try fixing it by executing the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Once the installation is successful, you can install any .deb package through Ubuntu Software Center.

The second workaround is to install .deb files using dpkg, a command line tool that lets you install, build, remove, and manage Debian packages. Here is the command that you need to execute in case you want to use dpkg:

sudo dpkg -i [deb-file]

For example:

sudo dpkg -i /home/himanshu/Downloads/test_1.0-1.deb

Please note that in case you encounter any dependency related issues, you can try fixing them using the following command:

sudo apt-get install -f

The third way is to use the GDebi tool. The tool lets you install local deb packages and automatically resolves and installs their dependencies (if any). You can think of GDebi as APT but for local packages. To install the tool, execute the following command:

sudo apt-get install gdebi

The tool comes both as a command as well as a GUI-based application. To install a .deb package using GDebi on the command line, run the following command:

sudo gdebi [deb-file]

To use the graphical client, first launch it through the Ubuntu Dash:

gdebi-dash

Here’s what the tool’s UI looks like:

gdebi-gui-launch

To install a .deb package, first select it by heading to “File -> Open.” For example, I selected the KDEConnect package.

gdebi-kdeconnect-package

You can see that the “Install Package” button is now active. Just click it to start the installation.

Keep in mind that GDebi will always try to resolve dependencies from its knowledge of whatever is present in the standard Ubuntu repositories – if a required package isn’t there, your installation process will fail.

None of the workarounds mentioned here are difficult to set up and use – it just depends on what you prefer. If you aren’t totally allergic to the command line, I’d recommend you learn the gDebi tool. And do keep looking for why the .deb installation issue is still there on your system and apply the fix as soon as you understand what’s going wrong.

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