Meta Package Marketplace

When people ask me what I like about Ubuntu, the first thing I’m going to mention is the avid community, the second thing is the ease of getting a complete desktop experience.

But people are different and so are their needs. One person may need fonts for illustrations, another person looks for applications to record and cut pod casts and yet another person may be trying to install all games of Kenta Cho. The Add/Remove Applications dialog being well-sorted, easy and ready to use for anyone, is definitely helping a lot not getting lost in the huge amount of software the repositories offer, waiting to be installed. The number of applications accessible this way grew steadily, and this led to one of the problems especially new users face: The overwhelming amount of software, not knowing what they need or want, precise but confusing descriptions and no signs of the usually omnipresent community besides those almost meaningless stars. This cries for change, this cries for community involvement.

My idea would be to create an easy way for users to create and submit meta packages in order to share them with other people on a digg-like website. KDE already got a somewhat similar feature where applications can download themes, emoticons or scripts from and

Other than the feature of KDE, this kind of meta package marketplace would enable users to create meta packages only linking software available in the official repositories. Downloading and installing those packages should be possible for anyone (as in person, not account, still requires sudo/root),  Submitting meta packages and participating in the voting and discussions would however require people to register an Account, maybe on Launchpad.

While the creation of, and discussion about those packages would require to go to a website, the installation and the browsing of the same should not. An Application replacing the classic Add/Remove application would fill the gap, maybe featuring tabs to change from the classic lists to the meta package marketplace. Entries of the meta packages should contain an description, the number of positive votes or rating, what packages are part of it and a link pointing to the respective entry on the website.

I’m not sure about the quality of this idea, but I just felt like writing it down.

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5 thoughts on “Meta Package Marketplace

  1. How would these Meta Packages be created?
    I would love to be able to create a meta package which I can then use on the all the computers I admin, so that they get the same stuff installed.

  2. This sounds like a great idea, I think with some work it would definitely be a way forward for Ubuntu and possibly other distro’s.

    @Scott check out, it has some info there (post 3 is particularly useful). A quick google for “create meta packages ubuntu” will get you some more links if that doesn’t help :)

  3. @Scott As mrmonday pointed out you can easily create meta packages on your box. For this idea though, I’d prefer them to be created on the server/website for security reasons and for convenience.

  4. @Rayne Not exactly

    meta packages are *.deb files not containing applications themselves, but contain the control files and have dependencies. Take the meta package ubuntu-restricted-extras for example, it’s a ~35kB *.deb depending on flash, gstreamer plugins, etc. If you install this meta package it tries to install it’s deps from the repositories.

    Now, the idea of the website is to help users create those meta packages online or to upload meta packages they created on their pc.
    When a user goes to the website and downloads/installs the meta package, the software the package depends on is installed.