How To Install .deb Packages Without “Ubuntu Software” in Ubuntu 16.04

By Michael Tunnell on April 29th, 2016


Ubuntu 16.04 is the first version to include the new replacement software app, GNOME Software–and it already has a show-stopping bug. Currently, in Ubuntu 16.04, it is not possible to install third-party applications using the Software app.

This misstep is only temporary as Canonical is already hard at work on solving the problem. In the meantime though, here are some ways to install those DEB files without the Software app.

The Graphical Solution: GDEBI


GDebi Package Installer is a graphical solution that will supplement the Software app by installing .deb files stored locally on your computer. GDebi is a great installation tool in its own right, featuring a streamlined process with repository access for dependency resolution. GDebi is located in the default repositories for Ubuntu in 16.04, so we’ll be able to use the Ubuntu Software app to install it. Somewhat ironically, yes, we’ll be using Ubuntu Software to work around the problem with Ubuntu Software.

Open the Ubuntu Software app and in the search box towards the top of the window, type “gdebi”. The Software app will automatically start searching as you type so you should see the results immediately. Once, the results are displayed you should see two almost identical entries. One of these is the standard version of GDebi and the other is the modified version for use on the KDE Plasma desktop environment. We can accomplish the task with either option, but I’d recommend selecting the non-KDE version in this case.


Once you have GDebi installed, open the File Manager and navigate to the folder where you have stored the .deb file. The default location would be the Downloads folder inside of your /home folder. Once there, right click the .deb file and select “GDebi Package Installer” from the “Open With” submenu.


With the .deb file opened in GDebi, you’ll see an “Install Package” button in the top right of the window. Simply click this install package button and enter your system password when prompted to do so. At this point, GDebi will handle the rest. You’ll know the installation is complete when the “Install Package” button changes to say “Remove Package”.

The Terminal Solution: APT


As you might expect on a Linux machine, you can also utilize the command line. We’ve written about simplifying your command-line package management with “apt” instead of “apt-get” before, and this is yet another example of how the “apt” command can simplify the process. In the past, you needed to change the working directory to the folder that contained the .deb file and run separate commands for dpkg and apt-get. In 16.04, though, you can simply use the “apt” command:

sudo apt install application.deb

For a more specific example, let’s say you downloaded the .deb for Google Chrome to the Downloads directory in your /home folder. Run the following command:

sudo apt install ~/Downloads/google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb

“~/” is a symbol that automatically associates to the current user’s home folder, in my case it would be “/home/michael/”.

It’s a Third-Party And I’ll DEB If I Want To

Ubuntu 16.04 shipped with a rather large bug, but the solutions to work around it are fairly simple. Canonical has already developed a solution to this problem so hopefully these workarounds won’t be needed for too much longer. Still, it’s always handy to have them in your back pocket should something like this arise in the future.

Michael Tunnell is a Linux expert and a long-time How-To Geek forum member.

  • Published 04/29/16
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