Canonical Displays Controversial “Advertisements” in Shell Updater • The Register

Some Ubuntu users are not happy about getting a promotional message on the command line when upgrading their system.

As we detailed last week, Canonical’s Ubuntu Pro support offering for its Linux distribution is now free for up to five computers. If you start your computer from the command line with the apt command will give you an unsolicited display of the schema – and some users are not happy about that.

Complaints have surfaced on Reddit, Mastodon, and the company’s StackExchange page, AskUbuntu.

This is far from the first time Ubuntu has faced such dissatisfaction. Last time, it was an advertising message on server login screens that led to complaints. This was just text added to it /etc/motd file (ie message of the day), but part of the annoyance is that it retrieved the information from the internet – in theory, that could fail or cause unforeseen network access.

A decade ago, it was Amazon listings in search results and fundraising on the download page.

The new message appears when using Ubuntu’s Simplified apt Front-end for the underlying Debian Advanced Packaging Tool, although as we mentioned when looking at some Debian derivatives, Debian itself has now adopted that apt Command. If you prefer the older one apt-getand apt-cache Commands are still present in both Ubuntu and Debian and do not show the message. They are a better choice if you also script the operations.

Although no one outside of the company expected this, there has been a warning if you redirect this for years apt Output of the command:

WARNING: apt does not have a stable CLI interface. Use with caution in scripts.

For what it’s worth that Registration number FOSS Desk doesn’t really see this as an advertisement. The news informs system administrators about a free service that’s worthwhile if you need to keep a few old machines running. If you don’t live online, you may have missed the news and it’s worth knowing about.

If you like the simplicity of use apt command, but are irritated by such things, there are alternative wrappers around the underlying APT package management system. You could install aptitude, which used to be the Debian-recommended “high-level” wrapper around the APT toolchain.

There are also more modern alternatives. One is Wajig. The documentation can tell you more about what it can do – including managing daemons, viewing logs, and more.

Another option is the Nala package manager, which brings some of Red Hat’s extra niceties dnf Command to Ubuntu and its kin. Nala can do multiple downloads in parallel, check for faster mirrors and more, and its output uses more formatting for better readability.

Both are implemented in Python – which might increase their appeal to Pythonistas and make it easier to see how they work under the hood. ® Canonical Displays Controversial “Advertisements” in Shell Updater • The Register

Rick Schindler

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