Ubuntu Software Center Not Working? Here Are the Fixes

Quickly fix Ubuntu Software Center to install the apps you want.

Fix Ubuntu Software Center Not Working App Featured Image

The Ubuntu Software Center makes life easier for those who want to install their favorite software without the hassle of using the Terminal or building things from source. It allows users to also quickly search for software and packages and automatically takes care of the dependencies along the way. Though rare, errors can happen that cause the Software Center not to work. A little troubleshooting can help you fix the Ubuntu Software Center not working issues.

Issues After Clearing Cache or System

Various users have reported that after clearing the cache or using any system cleanup tools, they started having some form of a problem with Ubuntu Software Center not working.

  1. If the Software Center loads at all and shows the “Update” tab, click that.
Ubuntu Software Center Not Working Here Are The Fixes Update
  1. Also click the “Refresh” button at the top-left corner. This reloads available updates and the Software Center. It’s also one of the few solutions that doesn’t require the Terminal.

Software Center Not Loading

Sometimes the Ubuntu Software Center fails to load. If you see a message such as “Unable to download from … ” it usually means that it cannot read the local cache, as it doesn’t exist.

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  1. To resolve this, you need to open the Terminal and enter:
sudo apt update && sudo apt -y upgrade
  1. If the above doesn’t work, you may need to reinstall Gnome-Software.
sudo apt autoremove gnome-software && sudo apt install gnome-software
  1. You can also try the following:
sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade -f
  1. This should pull down the latest version of Ubuntu, which might fix the issue. If you can’t open Terminal for any reason, try these fixes.

Corrupted Cache

This is slightly trickier to deal with and different than the above. Essentially, something has gone wrong with the cached packages, and the Software Center cannot read them.

  1. Go back to the Terminal and enter:
sudo apt clean
  1. The cache will now be completely clear. Enter the command:
sudo apt update
  1. This will pull a clean package list on your machine and should allow you to install software via the search.

No Images or Software

As you search for software, there are occasions where there is nothing loading. The same problem can display when there are no images within the “Editors Picks” section.

ubuntu-no-pics
  1. To fix this, type the following command in the Terminal. It will kill the software running in the Software Center.
killall gnome-software
  1. Remove the gnome file software location “~/.local/share/gnome-software.” Do this by entering the following in the Terminal:
sudo rm -rf ~/.local/share/gnome-software

If this seems scary, or you are afraid it will ruin your installation, opt to avoid deletion by moving it to another location. The Software Center will work fine either way. Just launch it as you would normally from the applications menu or the launcher if you have added it as a favorite.

Issues After Upgrading

While upgrading to a new version of Ubuntu normally goes smoothly, sometimes you’ll experience glitches after the process is complete. For example, the Ubuntu Software Center may not load or work at all. In this case, you may need to install Gnome Software from scratch versus reinstalling.

As with most solutions, open the Terminal and enter the following:

sudo apt install gnome-software

You’ll need to reboot to complete the process.

Crashing

This is a bit of an unusual problem, but sometimes the Software Center crashes when entering categories. Usually this can be resolved by running the update commands as shown above or reinstalling as before.

sudo apt install --reinstall software-center

The Language Fix

One of the oddest fixes for the Ubuntu Software Center not working problem is simply changing the language. You can even reselect your current language. This fix usually only works after you’ve recently installed a new version of Ubuntu, used system cleanup tools, or updated Software Center. This refreshes your system just enough to let Software Center start working correctly again. Strange, yet it’s effective for many users.

  1. Go to “Settings -> Region & Language.”
  2. Select “Language” from there.
Ubuntu Software Center Not Working Region Language

Tip: While you can select a different language if you want, just choose your currently installed language. If that doesn’t make a difference, choose another language temporarily, reboot, and open Software Center again to see if it helps. You can change your language back to the original after this.

  1. Select a language and press the green “Select” button.
Ubuntu Software Center Not Working Here Are The Fixes Language Choose
  1. You can also install a new language completely. Select “Manage installed languages” at the bottom of the “Region & Language page.”
  2. Press “Install / Remove Languages.”
Ubuntu Software Center Not Working Here Are The Fixes Install
  1. Select a language from the list and choose “Apply.”
  2. You can also uncheck your language and choose “Apply” to uninstall it. Reboot, go back to this window, and reinstall your language.
Ubuntu Software Center Not Working Here Are The Fixes Install Choose
  1. Click “Apply System-Wide” to apply your changes at the next restart.

Kill Snap Store

On some versions of Ubuntu, Gnome Software isn’t actually the Gnome Software app. Instead, it’s Snap Store. If killing “gnome-software” doesn’t work, you may need to kill “snap-store.”

  1. Close the Ubuntu Software Center.
  2. Open a Terminal window and enter the following.
killall snap-store
  1. Relaunch Ubuntu Software Center.

Use an Alternative to Gnome Software Center

While Software Center is often the go-to, it’s far from the only option to install software. There are different stores to use, or you can install .deb packages individually.

Fix Ubuntu Software Center Not Working App Grid

In fact, you’ll likely find yourself seeking out another way to install software when you eventually find an app that isn’t available in Software Center. Try these alternative methods:

  • Use App Grid: this is another alternative app store. The latest release supports Ubuntu 18.04 and up.
  • Search for .deb files individually: many websites offer their software for individual downloads without having to go through Software Center. Of course, never download anything from a suspicious site.
  • Try Synaptic: this is an alternative to Software Center that isn’t quite as user-friendly. However, in many ways, it’s far more versatile. Once you get used to how it works, you may discover you prefer it.
  • Use Flatpak: this is a universal software management system. Use it to search for, manage, and install apps. You can see what’s available before installing using Flathub.
  • Use Snap Packages: while Ubuntu versions after 16.04 already have Snap support built in, if you’re using Ubuntu 16.04 and older, install Snap support by using this command: sudo apt install snapd.

If you’re tired of Ubuntu itself, try these Debian-based alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent Software Center issues?

Ideally, keep the Software Center up to date. It’s important to note that older versions of Ubuntu might not support the latest Software Center versions. If you update Software Center, then start having issues, you may need to revert to an older version or upgrade Ubuntu.

What if I'm using an older device?

Software Center isn’t easy on your device’s resources since it’s such a major program. For older devices that keep having issues, it may be better to switch to Synaptic. While it’s not as user-friendly, it does work more smoothly on older hardware.

To install it on your device, open the Terminal and enter sudo apt install synaptic.

Can I remove Software Center from Ubuntu?

Yes. As long as you’re able to install software using other options, you don’t need Software Center, especially if you’re tired of random issues with Gnome Software Center not working. Open the Terminal and use either sudo apt autoremove gnome-software or sudo apt purge gnome-software. You can also use sudo apt install software-center to install the older version of Software Center for some older versions of Ubuntu.

All screenshots and images by Crystal Crowder.

Crystal Crowder
Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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