The Ubuntu operating system can be extended by installing packages from additional repositories, such as the Universe, Multiverse and Restricted repositories. Installing these allows you to install additional applications. Learn how to do this and more here.
Additional repositories in Ubuntu
Ubuntu, the popular Linux operating system, comes with its own main repository by default. If you install simple packages, which are normally part of the Linux operating system or closely related to it, it is quite likely that they will be present in the main Ubuntu repository. If so, it also means that they have been made official (and supported to some extent, for example with security patches) by the Ubuntu team.
The main repository is enabled by default and the packages in it are open-source, which means that you can check out the source code for a particular package and even suggest patches for it, etc. It is to some extent due to the open source. resource that the Linux community has thrived, and has become so varied in choice over the years, ie with a rich variety of applications available.
There are three other repositories you can enable or disable namely Universe, Multiverse and Restricted. Also note that you can even turn off the main repository if you wish, although normally it doesn̵
What is the Universe Warehouse?
The Universe repository offers a collection of additional software that can be installed on your Ubuntu workstation. This repository offers community-maintained open source software, and while there is no official support for the packages / applications in it, most of the software in the Ubuntu Software Center comes from this repository.
To enable this repository, click Activities at the top left of your Ubuntu Desktop / GUI and type software. After this, click on the ‘Software & Updates’ icon, which is slightly darker than it Software Updater icon.
Once inside the Software updates window, check it Community-maintained free and open-source software (universe) checkbox. Once you do that, an authentication dialog will likely appear. Log in by typing in the password for the UserID you are using (note that the active UserID is shown in the dialog box) and click Authenticate. Then click on it Close to button at the bottom right of the dialog box.
As a side note, if you find that you do not have enough permissions to take these or other software-related actions, you may want to read the article How to control sudo Access on Linux on how to add your user to the
sudoers group, but keep in mind that this can have other security implications as well, especially if you were to enable passwordless sudo privileges for your account (although not covered in that article).
A new popup will appear:
Click on ‘Reload’ to continue, and the caches of the software repositories (ie what is available on the repository is stored locally on your computer) will be refreshed.
What is the Multiverse Warehouse?
The Ubuntu Multiverse repository contains software packages that may cause copyright or legal issues. In principle, one should see per package what the applicable license, legal and restrictive issues are and how they relate to you and your system.
This repository is also supported by the community. With potentially less supported and closed source packages in this repository, the risk of security vulnerabilities is slightly higher here. For example, the community would not be able to patch a closed source package, and there are generally fewer people to maintain packages.
On a more general note (and this certainly does not apply to all packages in the multiverse repository), when software is limited by different licenses, in certain cases it may be good for a user to install a package that is different could not be bundled. with the operating system. This can also apply to packages in the limited repository that we will discuss below.
For example, packages that cannot be part of the base Ubuntu operating system (or main repository) due to conflicting licensing requirements can be installed by the user just fine when installed separately from the operating system as a whole. They may simply not be bundled with it. An example of this is incompatible open-source licenses that, when used, would change (or want to change) the overall license of other packages. Therefore, such packages cannot be bundled with the main operating system. One can research packages and their licenses to find out if this applies.
Note that you may want to avoid using the multiverse repository on servers, especially if those server (s) are public on the Internet.
Enabling it Multiverse repository requires identical steps to the ones shown above, but this time the check mark is made for Software limited by copyright or legal issues (multiverse). Don’t forget to reload when you’re done.
What is the Limited Warehouse?
The Ubuntu Limited repository contains proprietary drivers. For example, you can find NVIDIA GPU drivers here. This repository is officially supported by the Ubuntu team. The software in this repository is somewhat structured ‘downstream‘from the hardware manufacturer / supplier. For example, NVIDIA may release a new driver set for its GPUs, and Ubuntu’s team will integrate these drivers into its limited repository.
All software in this repository will display the text Property in the licensing section while browsing the Ubuntu Software Center.
Enabling the Ubuntu Limited repository again requires identical steps as shown above. Just tick Proprietary device drivers (limited). And don’t forget to reload when you’re done.
In this article, we looked at adding the Ubuntu Universe, Multiverse and Restricted repositories. We also learned about the differences between the different repositories and gave some tips along the way. To enjoy!