How to Manage Your PPAs with Ubuntu’s Software & Updates

The Software Center in Ubuntu doesn’t contain all software. To install third-party software, you will have to add Personal Package Archives (PPA) to the system. Although it’s easy to add and remove PPAs to Ubuntu through the terminal, some people consider anything involving typing commands to be “hard to use.” If you find yourself in this camp, don’t worry. You can add, manage, and remove PPAs through Ubuntu’s Software & Updates. Let’s see how that works.

Click on Ubuntu’s main menu icon or press the menu (“windows”) key on your keyboard. Type “software” in the search field.

Choose “Software & Updates” from the available entries.

Software & Updates includes the default package (“software”) sources for Ubuntu, by its creators, Canonical. To add a new repository (“source for packages/non-Canonical software”), move to the “Other Software” tab.

When there, click on the “Add” button on the bottom left of the window.

Enter the PPA you want to add for your new software source in the window that pops up.

Sublime Text’s repository was used for this example, so in this case, the “APT line” is:

After clicking “Add Source,” the new repository appeared after the existing “Canonical Partners.”

That wasn’t enough to be able to install Sublime Text, though. To be sure of the software’s authenticity and the trustworthiness of the repository, we also have to add a PGP key.

In the terminal, adding a new PPA key is just a command away. When working The GUI way, the process is more complicated. First, visit the provided key’s URL with your favorite browser.

The browser will prompt you to either open or save the key’s file. Choose how you’d like to save it.

Return to “Software & Updates” and move to the “Authentication” tab.

Click on the “Import Key File …” on the bottom left of the window.

Choose the key file you downloaded and saved to import the authentication key.

That’s it. You just added a new repository to Ubuntu. After your next software update, the software available from this source will appear among Canonical’s “official” suggestions, and you can install it as usual.

If sometime in the future you decide to stop using the software and wish to remove it, uninstall it like you would any other piece of software. Then, return to “Software & Updates.” Like before, move to the “Other Software” tab but this time select its repository and click on “Remove.”

Proceed by also removing the Authentication Key for it and then updating your software sources one more time.

And remember, whenever you decide to learn more about how to add and remove software from the terminal or about what PPAs are and how they work, we’re here for you.

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Odysseas Kourafalos

OK's real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer - a Commodore 128. Since then, he's been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

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4 comments

  1. Howe does one find out what the PPA for a software package is? For instance, if I wanted to install Zoom Video Conference in Ubuntu, how do I find the PPA address etc.?
    I know to which site to go in order to download Zoom but there is nothing there that reveals what the PPA etc. is.

    1. Not every app is in a PPA. Most apps are downloaded from distro repositories. Some, like Zoom, are downloaded directly from the developers site, again there are no PPAs involved.

  2. Who vets the PPAs to make sure they contain no malware? It certainly is not Canonical. Or is it all on the honor system?

    I guess the same questions ca/should be asked about AURs.

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