Ubuntu Software Center Not Working? Here Are the Fixes

Since its inception and release, the Ubuntu Software Center has made life easier for those who want to install their favourite software without the hassle of using the Terminal or building things from source. It served as a landmark moment for Ubuntu, allowing users to also search for software and packages quickly and automatically take care of the dependencies along the way. The Software Center was a departure from older tools like Synaptic, which while it worked perfectly, had less polish and a less user-friendly look.

It seldom happens, but there are times when there are some errors with the Software Center that cause it to fail. It can be frustrating, especially for users who are new to the distribution. So what should you do? Here are some the causes and the fixes for when the Ubuntu Software Center is not working.

Software Center Not Loading

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Sometimes the Ubuntu Software Center fails to load. If you see a message such as “Unable to download from …” then it usually means that it cannot read the local cache because it doesn’t exist. To resolve this you need to open the Terminal and enter:

You can chain these commands using the && syntax. If the above doesn’t work, then you may need to reinstall Gnome-Software.

You can also try the following:

This should pull down the latest version of Ubuntu which should fix the issue. For example, there was a bug within the initial release of 16.04 that caused the Software Center to fail when loading.

Corrupted Cache

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

Now the cache will be completely clear allowing you to enter:

This will pull a clean package list to your machine and should allow you to install software via the search.

No Images or Software

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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. This is not helpful to the newbie or older user who perhaps only knows their favourite software by the icon or image.

To fix this, you need to head back to the Terminal and type the following:

This kills the software running within the Software Center.

Next, you need to remove the gnome file software location “~/.local/share/gnome-software.” Do this by entering the following in the Terminal:

If this seems scary, or you are afraid it will ruin your installation, you can 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 favourite.

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 earlier in the article or by reinstalling as before.

This resolves some of the common problems that can happen with the Software Center. What have you encountered, and do you have any fixes that would help others? Let us know in the comments section below.

4 comments

  1. “do you have any fixes that would help others?”
    Yes. Use Synaptic.

    You tout Software Center for all those who do not want “the hassle of using the Terminal or building things from source”. But then, when Software Center goes south, you tell these people to resolve their problems by using the command line which they supposedly do not want use.

    “The Software Center was a departure from older tools like Synaptic, which while it worked perfectly, had less polish and a less user-friendly look.”
    I’ll agree that Software Center is more polished than Synaptic and has a more user-friendly look. However, glitz and eye-candy do not necessarily make an application better. “User-friendly” does not only mean more glitzy, it also means that it does more and/or better for the user. That is where Software Center falls flat on its face. Synaptic can install, delete and upgrade/update multiple applications, install, delete and upgrade/update system software (including kernel versions), lock package versions and fix broken packages. Synaptic can perform all these functions in one execution. Software Center, OTOH, requires multiple executions to perform the same functions. So what if Software Center shows me how popular a package is with other users. I install packages because I need/want it, not because it happens to be popular. I’ll take the unpolished, user-unfriendly Synaptic over the glitzy, good looking Software Center every time. In over 10 years of using Synaptic, I never had the problems that you describe above. Synaptic is like a Timex watch – It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

    1. 100% agree. The first thing I do with any Debian based OS is to install Synaptic if it is not already installed. For all the software centers I have encountered over the years not one can hold a candle to Synaptic.

  2. Wow, I didn’t know the Software Center was broken in so many different ways! Thsnks for explaining, despite yourself, why to avoid it.

  3. Thanks “No Images or Software” helped!

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