Sometimes the easiest solution is right in front of our eyes, and we fail to see it (probably because it’s too obvious). While looking through the forums it’s become evident to me that some people are needlessly driving themselves nuts browsing through categories in Synaptic Package Manager, desperately trying to find that program to install or remove, when they could be using the Quick search bar in plain view in the toolbar.
While the program’s displayed name and actual package or command name can vary, in most cases, typing in either will get you results.
If you know the actual package name, type that in, otherwise just type in the displayed name you’re familiar with. Results will immediately appear underneath.
You can even use this just to find out the package name, which could be handy for recreating a launcher you deleted. As an example, if you accidentally deleted the “Compiz Fusion Icon” launcher from your System Tools menu, you could type that into the Quick search bar and find that fusion-icon is the actual command, so use that info to make a new launcher.
Of course, if you’re looking for new software for specific tasks, and don’t know any program names, you need another approach. While I actually recommend Googling to find what’s out there, so you can read reviews and see screenshots, it’s actually very easy to use Synaptic to do it all for you. While there are different categories you can browse on the left, that can be somewhat overwhelming. So simply enter the type of software you are looking for, and you should get some results to browse through.
You can then view all the info that the developer has given by clicking on a program and reading what’s in the Description tab at the bottom.
You can add important words to help limit your results. For example, “video convert” will weed out the players, libraries, plugins and codecs that would also be presented if you merely typed in “video“.
You can then look at the Description to see if the programs are what you need.
Using these simple methods, you should be able to find all the software you’ll ever need. Note that to increase your chances of finding everything that’s available, Synaptic‘s list of repositories (ie: places to find software) needs to be a fair bit more extensive than you get in a vanilla install of Ubuntu. So check out these topics on how to add more repos:
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