10 April 2009

How Apt: Apt-urls Arrive

One of the unsung virtues of open source is the ease with which you can add, remove and upgrade programs. In part, this comes down to the fact that all software is freely available, so you don't need to worry about cost: if you want it, you can have it. This makes installation pretty much a one-click operation using managers like Synaptic.

Now things have become even easier:

As of this morning, apt-urls are enabled on the Ubuntu Wiki. What does this mean? In simple terms, this feature provides a simple, wiki-based interface for apt, the base of our software management system. It means that we can now insert clickable links on the wiki that can prompt users to install software from the Ubuntu repositories.

That's pretty cool, but even more amazing is the fact that when I click on the link in the example on the above page, it *already* works:

If you are a Firefox user on Ubuntu, you will also note that the link I’ve provided here works, too. This is because Firefox also allows apt-urls to work in regular web pages.

Free software is just *so* far ahead of the closed stuff: how could anyone seriously claim that it doesn't innovate?

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lefty.crupps said...

How does this work in relation to installing, say, malicious software? Does this only prompt Apt to install from its current repos, or does it link to any .deb file, which anyone could create to capture passwords etc?

The great thing with repositories is that they're trusted software. Adding random .deb packages can compromise the OS, especially as they require root privileges to install.

This sounds very nice and I hope the changes to Apt are shared upstream for us Debian users!

glyn moody said...

My understanding is that it only installs from repositories that you already have on your system - which should handle the malware problem.

Jim said...

@lefty.crupps - My original post on this topic answers that question. It only relies on the users configured repositories, so it won't be going out to grab random .debs from unknown websites.

If you have configured PPAs, though, you would need to be at least sure that you aren't installing untested software from those archives if you don't want to be installing untested software.