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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

By Jeremy LaCroix on August 01, 2008 (4:00:00 PM)

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Some Ubuntu fans out there may remember Automatix, a tool for Ubuntu that allowed easy access to many popular non-free applications and commonly-used audio and video codecs. It debuted a few years ago, and got negative reviews from Ubuntu developers and experienced users due to the risk of breaking dependencies, but it offered an easy solution for beginners who weren't familiar with the way deb packages worked. Automatix was discontinued in March, when its developers moved on to other projects. Now Ultamatix hopes to continue where Automatix left off.

Ultamatix 1.8.0 was released in July, 2008, with versions available for Ubuntu 8.04, Ubuntu Ultimate Edition 1.8, and Debian Unstable. Both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures are supported. Linux newcomers will be pleased to know that installation of Ultamatix is purely point-and-click. It doesn't require the use of terminal commands unless you don't have a graphical deb package handler installed on your system. For most configurations, all you have to do is download the deb package, double-click it, and follow the prompts. An icon for Ultamatix will then appear in your Gnome or KDE applications menu.

When you first start Ultamatix, you must accept the license agreement, because the codecs it installs are not legal in all parts of the world. It's up to you to be aware of the laws in your country. Ultamatix developers take no responsibility for any lawbreaking you do with their software.

If you've used Automatix, the interface will look familiar, since Ultamatix is based on it. Like Automatix, the software list is broken down by categories, such as Chat Clients, Email Clients, Codecs and Plugins, Eyecandy, File Sharing, Games, Media Players, and more. Each category contains several options. To install software using this tool, browse through the lists, check off everything you would like to have set up, and click "Start." Ultamatix takes care of the rest by downloading the selected software and all dependencies.

There are more applications available through Ulitmatix than it is feasible to list in one article. However, some of my favorites include Google Earth, VLC multimedia player, and Anjuta for development. In addition, the Games menu contains quite a few of my favorites, such as Frozen Bubble, Neverball, Wesnoth, Bzflag, and many more.

Ultamatix gets even better. For those who use Ubuntu and would like to experiment with other flavors of the distro, you can use Ultamatix to install Edubuntu and Kubuntu as well. If you want additional tools to administer your system, you can use Ultamatix to install Ubuntu Tweak, Bootup Manager (BUM), and Sysinfo. You can even use it to set up things such as NTFS support -- with full read and write access.

Ultamatix also takes care of uninstalling applications that are no longer needed, and even goes as far as to remove the unneeded dependencies as well.

 

On the downside

There's not much to dislike in Ultamatix. Yet, with thousands of great Linux applications out there, it goes without saying that it can't possibly include all of them. A few noteworthy apps that are missing are the Opera web browser and Thunderbird email client.

For advanced users, there isn't much benefit here -- most pros already know how to install any applications they want on their own. But, even so, they may still appreciate the convenience of having them all available in one place.

Finally, I had already installed some of the applications Ultamatix offers, yet there are no uninstallation options for those programs, only for ones that I installed through the tool. It would be nice if Ultamatix recognized that those programs were already installed through another mechanism, and gave me me an uninstall option for them.

Conclusion

The real value of Ultamatix is in making the Linux experience easier for new users, and any steps taken to ease the transition into the Linux world is definitely welcome. Time will tell, however, if Ultamatix will also inherit the controversy that surrounded Automatix or even if it will be as popular. Still, all in all, this is a great application -- and an easy way to install some of the most popular programs that Linux has to offer. And, best of all, in my tests, Ultimatix did everything it was supposed to do without a single hiccup.

Jeremy LaCroix is an IT technician who writes in his free time.

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Comments

on Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 195.188.250.62] on August 01, 2008 04:23 PM
Why would Thunderbird be included when it is free software and already in the default repositories?

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Re: Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.74.205.122] on August 01, 2008 04:59 PM
DO NOT USE ULTAMATIX.

It is just as sloppily coded as Automatix (http://www.geekosophical.net/?p=186). It does not bring anything new - use getdeb.net if you need updated things.

Additionally, I can't believe linux.com made this mistake of actually promoting this program. As if you didn't know of all the troubles that Automatix caused.

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.74.205.122] on August 01, 2008 05:03 PM
Codecs - medibuntu.org. It won't screw up your system, and it works.

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Re: Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.54.226.34] on August 15, 2008 09:39 PM
For that matter, just go to Applications -> Add Remove, type in "restricted" in the search box, hit the checkbox on Ubuntu Restricted Extras, and hit apply. You'll get every restricted thing you need right then and there without risk of breaking your system irreparably.

Ugh, why would you guys recommend a known system-destroyer, especially to newbies, the people *least* likely to be able to clean up the mess it causes?

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.215.114.165] on August 01, 2008 05:12 PM
Seriously...there was a reason that most seasoned and even middle of the road ubuntu users and the developers and pretty much all of Ubuntu hated and didn't want people to use Automatix. It shredded the system so you couldn't install updates and the like. I thought this was supposed to be an intelligent publication...Why are you promoting a tool that the _community_ says is bad and dangerous?

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 170.146.91.6] on August 01, 2008 06:43 PM
Please do not use Ultamatix. As someone else noted, it is a bunch of hacky scripts that will cause breakage if you try to update your system. Use the medibuntu repositories instead. They are maintained by a core developer, and are actual packages that will not mess up your system.

See here for more info about why Ultimatix is a bad idea for Ubuntu users: http://www.geekosophical.net/?p=186

I also encourage the author to update this post to reflect the comments here that people may otherwise not read.

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.133.71.41] on August 01, 2008 06:57 PM
I am the creator of ultamatix, and thank you Jeremy for your kind words, even though it may look the same it is the changes in which I have done under the hood that make it much better then automatix ever was. My base for starting to write it was to read everything that was wrong with automatix and fix them. You can read the hige list of what was wrong with automatix as well as what I did to fix them on my forum http://forumubuntusoftware.info/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1365&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=50&sid=22f2ef41c98de9e5bf1880e18efb3413#p14250

Thanks again,

TheeMahn

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.74.205.122] on August 01, 2008 07:23 PM
Unfortunately it looks like you a) Ignored Medibuntu and getdeb.net, which already do everything without breaking thing, b) Didn't fix everything as evidenced by the post, c) Decided to duplicate work on a third-party module instead of actually helping out Ubuntu.

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Ultamatix = Automatix take 2?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.58.64.246] on August 01, 2008 08:47 PM
From what I understand, Ultimatix still uses the --force-yes and --assume-yes flags. These flags are downright dangerous in the hands of new users. This is just "help_me_trash_my_system v. 2" and it's sad that it was even released.

Please, for the sake of your system, don't use this crap. You can do anything you need to do by simply learning the supported way to do things.

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.169.163.65] on August 01, 2008 11:41 PM
I wish the article had dug under the hood and told us if UItamatix fixed the many scary problems with Automatix, or if it's just a name change. Automatix had a lot of serious problems, and calling UItamatix a good thing because it's user-friendly does readers a disservice. Applications that damage your system are not user-friendly, no matter how pretty and easy they are.

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.93.121.107] on August 02, 2008 05:08 AM
IMO Ultamatix is worst than automatix.
Installed it yesterday.
A few second later my update manager popped up and reported many broken dependencies related to the update.
By chance I had a backup copy of my source list and desinstalled Ultamatix and restored the correct source list.
Those ultamatix guys will never have my two cents and linux.com should prevent their readers.

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.114.142.224] on August 03, 2008 01:56 AM
Packages can be installed via Apt, why reinvent the package-management wheel?

I still do not see the need for such an application, unless you really are that stubborn in not wanting to learn, at the very least, how to use Synaptic or Adept. Failing this, Ubuntu has got the built in Add/Remove function for a good reason, therefore negating any need whatsoever for Ultamatix, or any derivative.

Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...Still Worthless...

"help_me_trash_my_system v. 2" LOL....

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Two sides to every story

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.84.108.79] on August 03, 2008 04:51 PM
See, the problem is there are also people who used Automatix and had no subsequent problems - like me.
What can I say?
I used it in my early Ubuntu days, it did what it was supposed to do, and I never had trouble with my updates (although I tend to keep my updating-for-the-sake-of-updating to a bare minimum anyway).
If the guy who is working on Ultamatix is actually improving things, then great. If he's not, I don't see the point of his project.
Automatix was useful for newbies who couldn't work out how else to get what they needed, but most distros/package managers have moved on a lot since those days and it's much easier to get the necessary codecs etc.
I'm happy to wait and see how he gets on before I pass final judgement.

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Same here

Posted by: TK on August 05, 2008 07:08 PM
I ran Automatix back in '06 and have run the auto upgrade ever since without these kinds of issues. I do run updates just about every time I get them from Ubuntu and haven't had a broken package yet. Good point that there are a significant number of people that did use Automatix without issues.

Having said that, any new installations I do will simply use the built-in tools and the medibuntu repositories.

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Re: Two sides to every story

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.54.226.34] on August 15, 2008 09:41 PM
Um, you're supposed to install updates. It's not "for the sake of updating." It's this little thing called "security."

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One more way to install appications on Linsucks - great, thanks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.106.215.147] on August 03, 2008 08:01 PM
"let me count the ways" - 1,2 ...I am already confused. Should I use add/remove or just Synaptic? Where are the applications on Synaptic? Why the application or the version of the application I need is not in my repositories even though the application has been "out there" for 6 month already? Why there are so much crappy or unusable apps on add/remove, really? Why do I have to deal with all those repositories? Can't a software maker just make one installer for Linux? Why not? Too windoze like (this is the most stupid argument)? There are no unified APIs to write against? Why not? So how do I install regexxer on OpenSuse? So this ultishmucktux, is it contributing to the problem of application-installation-fragmentation on Linux or is it helping to solve it?
By itself it is decent tool, however in the above context it is a no helper.

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Re: One more way to install appications on Linsucks - great, thanks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 63.226.230.93] on August 06, 2008 02:19 PM
>>> Why the application or the version of the application I need is not in my repositories even though the application has been "out there" for 6 month already? Why there are so much crappy or unusable apps on add/remove, really?

Yes, quality of apps is a problem. there is too much low quality stuff making it into the repository. But guess what, the situation is really no different from windows, except that there is a lot less of free software and you usually have to pay$ for the krappy broken app on the windows side of the fence. Part of the reason the software takes awhile to be added is because someone needs to review it first and decide if it's worthy of being added....

Just remember, the term "Vaporware" was created to describe *Windows* software.


>>> Why do I have to deal with all those repositories? Can't a software maker just make one installer for Linux? Why not? Too windoze like (this is the most stupid argument)? There are no unified APIs to write against? Why not

So? Show me the repositories for Windows????? Where do I get programs for Windows?? Oh, there aren't any? I must go to thousands of different websites -- one for each program or small collection of programs. I must find the download page and go through a set of prompts that is unique to each website. Then when I get the program and install it, the only thing I can be sure of is that I have to double click it to install it. But each program has it's own unique installer, sure a lot of them do use the MSI installer but a lot of them don't use it. There are at least half-a-dozen major commercial installer programs for Windows apps, plus the developer can write their own unique program.

Why can't I do an automated install on Windows without having to click a zillion buttons like I can on Linux? Why must I reboot the computer thousands of times during the install process?

Why can't I install/run Microsoft Works and Microsoft Office on the same computer? After I have removed Microsoft Works in order to be able to "upgrade" to Microsoft Office, why then can I *not* use Microsoft Office to open my documents that I created in Microsoft Works???!!!!

Why does Windows suck so badly when I have to pay so much for everything????

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.61.53.234] on August 03, 2008 11:08 PM
I used Automatix in the beginning, I'm sure it broke something but it got me a system that had various things I would otherwise never have had. I was happy then. But to-day? Almost everything come out of the box, and a quick search in the forums will, as also pointed out by many here, tell you to install medibuntu.

Actually there's something fishy about this article. What's that about Thunderbird for example? Does Jeremy not know that Thunderbird has been in the repositories for a long time? It sounds more like someone who hasn't used Ubuntu for quite some time and still rely on that obsolete knowledge.

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 97.119.54.135] on August 03, 2008 11:34 PM
Automatix developer here, I went through the Ultamatix code and found a few things. First its based off Automatix2 for Gutsy. Second they did fix a few of the "minor nitpicks" that I left behind in the Gutsy version, the serious problems were fixed in the Gutsy version of Automatix2. Last, they added --force-yes to installation commands, which can be very dangerous. I go a bit further in depth on my blog, http://automatixdeveloperblog.blogspot.com/.

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To the developers of Ultamatix:

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.8.218.89] on August 04, 2008 07:59 PM
I'm sure your intentions are indeed good. Launching and maintaining services like Automatix/Ultamatix is a heavy and longterm commitment. It's a tough process to gain the trust required. Unfortunately this trust can only be gained by proof. Hopefully you'll succeed ;o)

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.87.147.83] on August 07, 2008 01:11 PM
I think it is a great program. I have installed Google Earth and many games with it that are not in the Ubuntu repos. For these games I would have to add a third party repo anyway, or find a .deb package that doesn't work. The only, and I mean only problem I found is that if you have other 3rd party repos added that has a newer version of the package your installing then you may end up with broken packages. So yelling, OMG Ultamatix broke my Ubuntu, is rather silly. activating any repo that contains different versions of the same packages your Ubuntu repos have can cause broken packages, and then it takes what, about 2 minutes to fix those problems.

And to Jared, you may want to dig around those forums better. I can understand you defending your original work. Force-yes is used only because the developer assumes total idiots aren't installing his software. He assumes that if you check on a box and click start then that is what the user wants to do. Ultamatix also runs Lintian, but I'm unsure if this version of Ultamatix is out for the public yet.

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Ultamatix may be a worthy successor to Automatix for new Ubuntu and Debian users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.249.50.250] on August 13, 2008 10:56 PM
I have installed and run Ultamatix on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Ultimate Edition, along with Dreamlinux 3.4 (also debian-based) with
ZERO PROBLEMS!!!
A word for the skeptics out there, DON'T KNOCK IT 'TILL YOU TRY IT.

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My pants

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.122.177.187] on August 28, 2008 07:22 PM
I just shit my pants. I did I did. And then I eated it.

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