Apt-Get Web Suggest


No direct link exists from web pages to the package in synaptic/gnome-app-install.

It would be nice if you could click on a url in a web page (install://bluefish) and trigger a suggested package to be displayed in gnome-app-install


Linspire CNR / Klik etc get a lot of kudos for 'one click install' ability, gnome-app-install is much more powerful yet users get lost between the website and application task.

It would be nice if you could click on a link on a web page and gnome-app-install opened with the application(s) listed (all ready for the user to select and install), it would also go a long way to bridging the install (download from web site) gap that MS refugees are used to.

At the moment the distance between seeing an app on a website and triggering the install is simply a long road to travel.

  • 1 I see the web site http://muine-player.org 2 I think cool, install this, so i click on the download link 3 I see the 'ubuntu' link and click it 4 I see a page saying "ubuntu has packages"

    5 I open Add/Remove (because of course i know what it does...)

    6 I type the search phrase "muine" after checking the spelling 7 I click the install check box 8 I click Apply 9 I click Apply again 10 I enter sudo password 11 Application Installs !!

Would be nice if that could be cut to

  • 1 I see the web site http://muine-player.org 2 I think cool install this, so i click on the download link 3 I see the 'ubuntu' link (install://muine) and click it, Add/Remove opens with application selected (or maybe force user 1 extra step to check it??) 4 I click Apply 5 I click Apply again 6 I enter sudo password 7 Application Installs !!

Thats a saving of 4 steps, a bit of typing and a bit of 'know how' to look in Add/Remove in the first place.

Package suggest links could then start appearing every where - blogs, forums, wiki's etc..

In an alternate universe if every distro handled the suggest link with thier own packaging system.... then we could have "click here to install for linux"....

Use cases

  • Blogger reffers people to 'cool' applications - http://diveintomark.org/archives/2006/06/26/essentials-2006

  • Ubuntu help documentation refers to an application that is not installed
  • Wiki howto gives instructions on how to apt-get packages
  • Forum users give instructions on how to apt-get packages
  • Email grandma an apt-get-install link to enable her to install that bridge game she wants
  • Bert fresh from switching from that 'other OS' is used to installing applications from web pages.
  • Firefox plugin finder could be redirected to install://flashplugin-nonfree etc...


  • Will only apt-get install packages in the existing repo lists does not cover adding new repositires (although maybe user could be prompted with the details of the repo they need to add with a nice warning...)
  • KISS - Keep it simple stupid, protocol only allows simple 'install'
  • Should allow a list of packages to be installed ie install://beagle%20monodevelop%20tomboy


  • Patch gnome-app-install to accept command line package selections [gnome-app-install --suggest=mozilla-thunderbird]
  • Patch gnome-app-install to allow selection by package names as well as key word search
  • Add keys to Gconf for install:// protocol to trigger gnome-app-install
    • (code exists)

http://img88.imageshack.us/img88/3972/screenshotdq6.th.png http://img88.imageshack.us/my.php?image=screenshotdq6.png


  • killerkiwi - The feed back from the forum is mostly positive the only real concern being security and the possibility that the protocol could be used for some devious means, mailto: etc have being doing this for years so I'm sure smarter people than me can think of a way to make this safe.

  • Warbo: This DEFINETLY needs discussion with as many distros as possible, maybe even freedesktop.org, to make it a standard. Obviously each distro can make their own handlers and plugins, but the URLs MUST be the same no matter what distro. Forks like Deb/RPM were pretty much inevitable due to the nature of GNU/Linux in those days, but these divisions are still the source of many flame wars and unenlightening comments from M$ fanboys today. Since this is a relatively new feature it must be finalised to something everyone agrees on before it starts getting used in different variations across the world. The only variations created by each distro inventing their own system would be petty anyway, such as one distro using "install://" and one using "package://" etc, and differences like these are completely unneccessary. (Also, I think Symphony OS is working on a similar idea)

Some thoughts & comments:

  • As package names differ accross distros, there will have to be a central registry for application names. Maybe some sort of namespacing (like a "vendor prefix") will be needed too?
  • I also wonder how this protocol would work with third party repositories? If you still have to explain how to add a repository, this protocol isn't very useful...
  • What if a certain version is wanted (e.g. for a link under a review)?
  • Why not use a small text file (e.g. XML or RFC-822 formatted) downloaded over HTTP instead of being limited to only a package name in an URI?
  • Why keep such an "installation protocol" limited to Ubuntu, GNOME, or even linux/unix? It would be really cool if one link could install a program on any OS, be it linux, Mac OS X or even Windows. I think both users and vendors would like a feature like that. Smile :-)

  • Using a text file is also an option see ThirdPartyAp, my self i like the simplicity of just adding a link - Killerkiwi

    • An URI is simpler, but it might requires changes to all browsers and other applications that show such links, while almost all those programs can pass a text file to a handler by using MIME-types. (Also, I think such an URI specification should be more formal than what you have now.) -- JanClaeys 2006-09-29 18:33:47

    • Adding a Gonf key in gnome will take care of this in all gnome apps (firefox obeys it as well), KDE has something similar for Konq that KDE apps seem to obey.. Really though I'd just like it to be easy for 'anyone' to add links with out having to host a file some where, Its been pointed out that a script some where that autgenerates the required files would be possible and would probably solve this issue. ie http://install.ubuntu.com?package=bluefish

  • About adding repos, I would consider this as the major security issue, keeping adding a repo as a seprate process protects you from installing unvetted software. Maybe thought the Software Properties dialouge could be displayed if the package is not found in the current repo list - Killerkiwi
    • Of course I wasn't proposing to add third-party repositories without approval by the user, and "Software Properties" is probably the most logical place to add such functionality. -- JanClaeys 2006-09-29 18:33:47

    • Why not get basic support for this now and work with freedesktop to get this standard across other distro's for feisty+1 -- Abbas Khan


aptgetinstallprotocol (last edited 2008-08-06 16:35:42 by localhost)