Automatix Alternatives

After installing Ubuntu, you may want some easy way to get codecs, Flash, and Java, along with other essentials. However, many people will tell you to use some program called "Automatix." To start off, let's get the definition from our friendly IRC bot at freenode:

Automatix2 is a script that tries to install some software, and often fails and breaks systems. We don't provide support for it, and we strongly discourage its use. Problems caused by Automatix are often hard to track and solve, and it might sometimes be easier to !install a fresh copy of Ubuntu. See also !WorksForMe

Basically, if you use Automatix, you will not be able to get the level of support that you normally can from the Ubuntu community. While Automatix installs some commonly used programs and services, it is often easier (and safer) to install them yourself. Automatix right off the bat requires to use the terminal to add a repository for itself, something that a new user will probably avoid.

I have tried Automatix myself, and while my system worked fine for the time being, it refused to upgrade.

Sometimes, it may also install unwanted programs. You may end up with more than one media player, for example. You will need to remember which one has the proper codecs installed to play files.

Here are some great alternatives to Automatix, most of these available right when you install:

Ubuntu Restricted Extras

Ubuntu Restricted Extras is a package that installs many common things along with it. It does not try to modify any configuration files like Automatix might. It includes the most recent version of Flash, Java 5 & 6, the "msttcorefonts" package which installs common fonts like Arial and Times New Roman, and some other little goodies.

To install, just type "restricted" into the Applications > Add/Remove dialog, and check the box that appears:

Ubuntu Restricted Extras

Most users will be able to stop right there with the installations. But if you are the media type, this package might not catch every kind of media you want.

Automatic Codec Installation

This one handles itself. As long as you are connected to the internet, if you try to play a movie file that does not have the codecs installed, they will be downloaded and installed for you. See this post.

Remember that while Automatix is a nifty tool in itself, you will spend more time fixing things or removing programs it installs that you don't want than you would have if you just did it using the supported methods. Install safely.

Avatar for jacob Jacob Peddicord - http://jacob.peddicord.net/

Jacob is a web developer, student, and programmer from Ohio. He is a staff member at the Ubuntu Forums and is most likely a fanboy of the distribution. He loves to write in code and words, play video games, and rant about topics most would have abandoned long ago. Jacob uses GNOME and is never seen running stable software, much to the demise of his laptop.

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Discussion: Automatix Alternatives

  1. Chris (guest)

    # Posted on 12 May 2007 at 07:12 AM

    I've been using Automatix for quite some time now and I've never had any problem. I think that Automatix's benefits far outweigh any problems that it may has, and further I think the problems are isolated incidents. The rash reaction from the Ubuntu community is, in my opinion, classic unrestrained open source zealotry.

    Automatix makes the process easy and fast and gives new users access to a full set of new programs that they would have to search around for and manually install if they go any other way.



  2. Jacob (guest)

    # Posted on 12 May 2007 at 07:16 AM

    See this specification: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/CommonCustomizations

    Also keep in mind that while you can use Automatix and not have any problems, you will not receive support for it or anything it installs at the foums. You will be deferred to the Automatix sub-forum for support.



  3. Chris (guest)

    # Posted on 12 May 2007 at 07:23 AM

    That's exactly the problem. I have always had (and will continue to have) a problem with Linux distributions trying to centralise software installation under one roof. Perhaps it makes things easier for the developers - and to that end I suppose it is the smarter decision. But it is not going to make things easier for your average third party developer and user. This delay in the availability of Pidgin is the prime example. I want Pidgin. I want it now. But Ubuntu, in their quest for perfection, needs to redo portions of the program and get it packaged exactly right. what is the point?

    A simplified, distributed, and decentralised software installation system is needed. This is something that, I'm sorry - Windows and OS X do right. It's easier for third party developers, it's easier for users... package management is annoying.

    Automatix is at least making an effort to hide the package management system and decentralize things a bit, and I applaud them for it.



  4. Jacob (guest)

    # Posted on 12 May 2007 at 07:49 AM

    My personal reason for not using Pidgin yet was because I cannot find a .deb file that has plugin support for all of the extra plugins I have enabled. These, however, are in the repository, but for Gaim. Otherwise, yes, I would have just used the decentralized .deb file.

    The thing about APT is that it is decentralized - but you have to remember that there are packages in the realms of supported and unsupported. Once you cross the boundary, you are on your own.



  5. Jacob (guest)

    # Posted on 12 May 2007 at 07:51 AM

    Here is a fine example I what I'm talking about: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=439688&highlight=automatix



  6. CJ (guest)

    # Posted on 12 May 2007 at 01:32 PM

    I think this article is way off the mark. Automatix is one of the best things to come along for Linux in a long time. I have used it on my Edgy install and my Feisty install with no issues whatsoever. For someone, newby, that wants to get everything installed in 1 shot it's a must have.



  7. tallman (guest)

    # Posted on 12 May 2007 at 11:29 PM

    I never had a problem with automatix. And I used it many times while on edgy and feisty. And I will use until I find any prove you article to be true.



  8. Jacob (guest)

    # Posted on 13 May 2007 at 07:25 AM

    Heh heh heh. It looks like this article is backfiring on me. I'm not saying that Automatix will break your system 100% of the time, but if you use it incorrectly then it can happen.

    Here's the deal: I'm going to install Automatix2 on my system, and go through the install process, documenting every step, every password prompt, every click. I'll post the results here on FOSSwire. Then, I'll compare that to installing the packages by hand.



  9. lancest (guest)

    # Posted on 18 May 2007 at 07:02 PM

    Although Automatix initially worked installing codecs later I found later that I could not play Xvid files and also not playback DVDs.Tried install/reinstall VLC/Totem/Gstreamer codecs both with Automatix then Synaptic to no avail. What a mess!! Automatix does break media systems sometimes and I won't use it again. Either it works all the time or I won't use it on any of my systems. Not safe.



  10. Ben (guest)

    # Posted on 27 August 2007 at 08:38 PM

    A little late, I know, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

    The problem with Automatix is that it gives you applications, not functionality. I used EasyUbuntu back before the release of Feisty, because it gave me all the functionality I wanted: DVD support, Flash, Java, and drivers (although I always did the drivers by hand). In short, it gave me everything I needed to take full advantage of my computer. I had my graphics card working, I could play any DVD and almost every codec, a full Internet experience, etc.

    What Automatix does is try to install every application you might want. The inclusion of Opera, to me, is a prime example. Firefox is included by default, supported, and with just a few plugins, works perfectly. If you want Opera running under Ubuntu, that's fine, but this goes beyond getting you "up and running". In its quest to give you every application you might want, Automatix goes through a lot of unofficial channels. I tried it once, and saw it downloading a lot of software from the web, rather than a repository. I have no problem with third party repositories, as long as the maintainer knows what they're doing. I use many, in fact, mostly for single applications, and it's what I love about APT. Going outside of that, however, should be a task for experienced users. Don't put this in the hands of newbs.



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