‘Download for Ubuntu’ Button Campaign

Applications, delivering awesome apps to our users, and making it easy for developers to create and deliver their apps, is going to be critical to success of Ubuntu. Fortunately there is a lot of work going on in this area, more of which I will elaborate on later this week.

Part of this work is going to be making it easy for Ubuntu users to be able to download software. The Ubuntu Software Center is our primary mechanism for this, but we also know that users browse application and upstream websites and will often look at their Download pages to find an Ubuntu download.

Ideally we want any user who looks at a Download page on an application website to see this:

The user can then click this button and view more details, and ratings and reviews of the app in Ubuntu, and install it with just a click.

We Need Your Help!

Right now, many application websites don’t have these buttons on their Download pages. As such, I asked Michael Hall to generate a list of the most popular 100 applications in the Ubuntu Software Center, and generate the HTML.

To help with this, just do the following:

  • Go to the campaign wiki page (you will need to scroll the right to see everything as the page is quite wide)
  • Pick an application.
  • Find the application’s website (you might need to Google this) and see if the button is on their download page.
  • Now find the contact details for the app. This could be a mailing list, a specific person, a general email address etc. Again, you might need to do a little Googling to find the details.
  • Email the contact the HTML snippet for your app from the wiki page and ask them if they could include it on the Download page.
  • Add your name to the wiki page. to indicate that you reached out to them.
  • If you notice that they add it, add a link to the wiki page to the app’s Download page with the button!

If the developer asks why they should do it, emphasize that this will make it easier for Ubuntu users of their app to install it with just a click.

If we can divide and conquer we can spread the buttons further afield and continue to make it easy for people to install their favorate apps in in Ubuntu! Thanks for your help!

  • http://profiles.google.com/dscassel Darcy Casselman

    I know in the past some authors have stated some resentment of operating system repositories getting in between them and their users.  Even though an app is free (libre) software, they might ask for a donation, or offer pay-what-you-can pricing.  The Software Centre hides that completely, and the few authors actually trying to make a living from their work are cut off from a potential source of revenue.

    The Software Centre now offers software for sale (though doesn’t seem to have facilities for donations or pay-what-you-can).  Are there plans to offer authors of software in the repositories the option to set a price for their work, or allow users to donate?

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

    So… for projects which are lauchpad based..with no other official project homepage…. for example jockey-gtk which is in that list… why doesn’t launchpad already provide that button on the jockey launchpad page?  Or for that matter why doesn’t launchpad use this button for pretty much every project that advertises as having packages available?


  • https://twitter.com/YannDinendal Yann Dìnendal

    I contacted videolan, and they have a question about this: why link to https://apps.ubuntu.com/cat/applications/vlc/ when we could directly link to apt:vlc ?

    He also noted that the page says “Version: 1.0″, whereas the “real” Software Center correctly says “Version    vlc 2.0.1-4″.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, Jef, we just need someone to do the engineering to make it happen. If you know of a volunteer, that would be great. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for reaching out to apps! :-)

    We recommend to link to apps.ubuntu.com mainly because non-Ubuntu users won’t be able to load an apt URL. It also means that we can show people the ratings and reviews and other potential features for non-Ubuntu users.

    The version thing is a bug, we are working to track that down.

  • http://profiles.google.com/vperetokin Vadim Peretokin

    That page shows user reviews, which is important. Think of Android linking: it does not link you to the direct install, but information about the application.

    I wouldn’t want to install something I don’t know about yet.

  • Pierre Equoy

    That’s cool, but what about gaps in versions?

    I mean, take Battle for Wesnoth for instance. The latest version is 1.10, yet the version available by default on the latest Ubuntu is 1.8 (and the packet is wesnoth-1.8).

    Imagine getting on a webpage, seeing the new release of the software with amazing new features, going in the Download section, selecting “Download for Ubuntu”, and… being proposed to install the previous version (or even the version before).

    Should the software makers still show a link to their latest version and how to install it on Ubuntu (ppa and all…)?

  • http://twitter.com/tehhanz Hans Heintze

    Is canonical design responsible for this button? It does not match the official colour pallete or logo usage guidelines.

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

     This is an inherent conflict in Ubuntu’s decision to be structured both as a single-sourced linux distribution and an app platform.  You can’t be both simultaneously, at least not well. 

    The really good app platforms define a core OS which with centrally controlled release and update timescales and policies and then that OS/platform central authority gets out of the way and lets individual app developers define their own release and update timescales when moving new software content into the platform. Lower the barrier for managing the application deliverable as much as possible and give the app developers as much control over when users get the new app deliverables for the platform.

    To make the leap fully to an “app” platform Ubuntu will need to really look hard at what a core Ubuntu platform needs to provide, set update policy for that and then deliberately avoid enforcing a stability policy on the “app-space” which lives on top of the stable and well defined platform.  For example, there’s absolutely no reason why something like gimp or wesnoth should be considered part of the stable “app” platform. And yet these items still need to follow the SRU policy currently right? 

    That SRU policy makes a lot of sense when you view Ubuntu as a single-source distribution. But its very troublesome from the app platform pov..as it represents a significant policy barrier between the app creators and the users of the platform. What app developer wants to fight their way through the SRU gauntlet when its just as easy to through installable packages on their own project website and encourage users to get the new version directly from them?

    If Android had an SRU policy that covered apps as a aggressively as Ubuntu’s SRU policy does…Android wouldn’t have an app ecosystem…no one would bother jumping through those hoops.


  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    We’re testing this with our new “extras” repository that contains apps submitted through developer.ubuntu.com, it allows mid-release updates and new packages.  We’ll take what we learn here and apply it to other areas of Ubuntu in the future.

  • Anonymous

    I just received a reply from a developer (Cheese, for what it’s worth) that doesn’t want to add the button, should the entry be removed from the Wiki?

  • Ian

    I’m able to log into the wiki, but when I navigate to the AppPromotion URL, it logs me out. I’ve contacted the deluge dev’s and requested the button be added to their website

  • Ian

     The Deluge devs aren’t eager to switch to the new style of link while the version bug is still around.  They’re open to considering it otherwise though.

  • Randall

    Jono, this is an EXCELLENT idea. Than you for spearheading this.

  • Randall

     I meant “THANK YOU” :)

  • Guest

     The user can then click this button and view more details, and ratings and reviews of the app in Ubuntu, and install it with just a click.

    So it’s not okay to have this button link to a .deb file–it must link to the package in the Ubuntu Software Center? That seems a bit strict.

  • Peter Rhone

     Good point, it would be cool if the app store had the ability to donate to a project.  Though, if the person found the “download for ubuntu” button, it means they were on the project’s homepage, where there presumably is a “donate” button to.

  • http://ernstfamily.ch/jonathan Jonathan Ernst

    And why link to an image in some date specific WordPress directory. It would be better IMHO to have a shorter, more long-term looking link. With the current code if you decide to use something else than WordPress you’ll have to redirect requests or have every site show a broken button.

  • https://launchpad.net/~eythian robin

    Linking to a .deb file is a terrible idea, as it side-steps the package manager. In particular, you get no updates.

  • nll

    What about games in Desura, or at least the open source ones?

  • Nononon

    although they may download more software from other people not just that one project

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

     I’m sure it will provide interesting lessons and its probably the best approach towards introducing the new model to make sure it works for new apps. 

    However the real test for Ubuntu’s dev/release working groups will be when you are ready to start nudging well known and highly used things like gimp from the distro release model into the app release model.  The really hard questions with regard to policy are going to be how one transitions existing things from universe-centric merge/freeze release model into the less coordinated app model.   There’s definitely going to be some interesting problems in navigating that transition.


  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    That would constitute a very drastic departure from Debian, where we currently get the vast majority of our packages. 

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    I’ve added 2 new section to the bottom of the wiki page, one to place those upstreams who have added the button, and another for those who have declined to use it.  I’ve gone ahead and moved Cheese to the second.

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    I’ve added 2 new section to the bottom of the wiki page, one to place those upstreams who have added the button, and another for those who have declined to use it.  I’ve gone ahead and moved Cheese to the second.

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

     Sure it would… but it would be more consistent with an “app platform.”   It will be very difficult to be both a best of breed “app platform” as well as a derivative of debian….especially when there’s no agreed on definition of what “apps” are and what “apps” are not.  Is gimp an app like Jono continues to speak of it? Or is it not?  If it is.. then it needs to be managed as part of the app platform mechanism..not like a derivative distro package. If its not an “app” then you need to circle the wagons and figure out a clear definition of what an “app” actually is so you can get some cleaner messaging about the “app” workflow through your release process. 

    Just look at this download button campaign. How many of those things would really be welcomed as part of the new app release workflow instead of the traditional debian merge process and SRU policy? Or would there be considerable pushback to keep the SRU policy in tact for many of those items?  Your already committed to advertising these things as “apps” but they aren’t developed or managed as “apps.”  You are setting so very mixed and inconsistent expectations with this advertising push.

    These are exactly the sort of very hard problems Ubuntu faces by trying to be an app platform and a debian derivative at the same time.  If Debian was itself an app platform, it would be easier..but Debian hasn’t bought into that paradigm yet and as a result your going to feel an immense amount of pain trying to be both things at once..with no clear boundaries.

    And beyond that the mixed messaging about what Ubuntu is meant to be and to provide is going to really cause more and more confusion and will continue to greatly benefit Android in the marketplace, simply because its easier for Google to describe with written guidance the ecoystem workflow for app submission for all external developers.  The Ubuntu development guidance is a bit…fractured.

    You have to find a way to make it dead easy for existing popular upstream projects to make the leap from universe package to managed app submission. You can’t just focus the process on new apps that aren’t in debian while also attempting to cast all existing applications as “apps”. It’s highly inconsistent and damaging.


  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    It will indeed be difficult, I don’t know of any other distro that is trying to support both ecosystem, but I’m very excited that we are trying.  We’re already seeing some of fruits of that labor landing in the Ubuntu Software Center, and more and more developers are starting to see Ubuntu as both a viable platform and a lucrative market.

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

     I’m glad your excited. Now if you could just provide some guidance for developer of things like wesnoth and supertuxkart so they can take the leap from derivative package to managed “app” so they don’t have to push updates to users to a ppa outside of the software center mechanism which you are asking them to advertise. 

    Seriously… supertuxkart now lists 3 different ways for Ubuntu users to download the “app”  This is probably not what this campaign really intends to see. And they listing multiple ways only because as upstream developers they can’t control the cadence of updates in the official Ubuntu repository. Get that fixed for upstream developers so they can take more control. Provide the written guidance to help existing upstream project transition to the new app review process.  Right now playdeb is actually a better app platform for Ubuntu than anything Ubuntu official offers..simply because it makes it easier for upstream developers to rev their deliverables without a hard SRU policy to meet.


  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Rest assured that I will be giving them such guidance just as soon as we have it to give. :)

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

     There is no rest for the wicked.

  • Damarus999

    I’ve noticed that using these buttons breaks the launcher auto-hide, at least when launched from Chrome. I raised a bug here:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/unity/+bug/1008097Has anyone else encountered this?

  • Damarus999
  • Anonymous

    Great! That’s perfect :)

  • http://www.ubuntubrsc.com/ Julian Fernandes

    Hello Jono,

    First of all, that is a great ideia and i will start sending mails tonight for sure! But i have some things to note here: 1. Could you replace the image with a optimized one? If we use this image on our website, we get a lower Google PageRank/YSlow rank, because the imagem isn’t optimized yet. I optimized the image (2.5%) with Trimage and the result is here: http://i46.tinypic.com/2uj5p3o.png

    1. Could we get the source of the button so we can translate it? We wanted to use it on Ubuntu-BR-SC’s website, but since our website is in portuguese, the button doesn’t go well with it.

    2. Is there any way we can translate the web software center? I mean, our users (Brazil) acess it and see english text… not all of them use Ubuntu and not all of them know english, so if a first timer comes and see the link and think Ubuntu is all in english… we just lost a user :/

    Thanks for your time (:

  • Anonymous

     This is the one time where not only is there not a single tiniest point in which I disagree with you, but where you perfectly express what I wanted to say. I hope very much that Canonical takes what you said to heart and fixes the problem as you suggest.

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

     What if I told you that I was actually providing beneficial and well thought out points of view in the hopes that Canonical will actually do exactly the opposite of what I suggest and make additional strategic mistakes simply because as a corporate entity they’ll resist anything I suggest as an outsider because they view me as not really having the best interests in mind?  And I guess they are sort of correct in being wary of me. The best way I can think of sabatoging Canonical’s business interest is to come up with really good ideas for them, tell them about it and watch them instinctively do the opposite.  Seems to be working.


  • Anonymous

     I should have seen this misunderstanding coming. What I mean to say is that you write a lot and I see you everywhere. Almost each time you write there is something I disagree with. Sometimes a small thing, sometimes a big thing. Sometimes I agree with everything you say but it’s not something I’d bother with.

    This time you spoke my mind exactly.

    I didn’t mean to imply in any way that you are a troll or anything like a troll. I recognize you as a critic who usually has something valuable to say.

  • Carles Oriol

    This button is only valid for english “readers”. 

  • https://launchpad.net/~airon90 Airon90

    Please, could you create localized buttons?

    EN: Download for Ubuntu EO: El?utu por Ubuntu IT: Scarica per Ubuntu

  • http://supertshirtshop.com/t-shirt-designs/funny-t-shirts funny t-shirts

    That page shows user reviews, which is important. Think of Android linking: it does not link you to the direct install, but information about the application.

  • Anonymous

    I understand your point about not wanting to install something that you don’t know about. However the “Download for Ubuntu” button is on the download page of the application. So, presumably you’re going to install it without finding out how others feel (since you’re at their download page looking for the installer).

    I would say that as long as the version in the ubuntu repositories is the same as what’s available on the application site, this is a good thing. But, if I’m at the application site looking for version x.xx and I click the “Download for Ubuntu” button and install a previous version, I’m not going to be happy.  Either I’ll complain to Canonical (or someone in Ubuntu) or I’ll complain to the application developer.  The end result is that the application developer will remove the button–as it’s generating complaints because it installs an earlier version).

  • Jackie40d

    Did you leave a way to show the desktop as Gnome  and not the floating icons I do not like it and a 80 year old man I put on Ubuntu did not like it  . . I had to go thru a gob of stuff to get it back the basic Gnome look and nice and clean looking . . Right now I am using 11.04 and do not really want to go to 11.10 with the floating icons stuff to much work to get back to a nice desktop