Automatix is an easy to use high level package manager for commonly requested applications. It has been recommended for new Ubuntu users who want to easily set up their system with applications. However, some say that Automatix has serious problems.

The Ubuntu Technical Board has recently reviewed Automatix. They found that Automatix’s problems make it unsupportable in Ubuntu. Here are the issues that look most significant to me:

  • Automatix is poorly packaged.
  • Does not prevent other package managers from being started while Automatix is working.
  • Removes packages without asking user.
  • No internal dependency management.
  • Removes Ubuntu packages in favor of tarballs.
  • Does not check if unmounting a filesystem is successful.
  • Ignores Adobe Acrobat license that does not allow redistribution.

Personally, I think that the need for Automatix is small now. For many applications it is simple to download packages and install them from the Internet even when they are not in a repository, and the automatic codec installer and restricted manager both work well. However, Automatix can easily get some otherwise challenging-to-install software. I am not sure if any of these reasons are good enough to stop me from recommending Automatix to newbies. Their website sums up what I think, which is that the majority of users are not affected by these problems.

Is Automatix2 safe? Folks in #ubuntu on IRC keep telling me it isn’t.
Yes, it is perfectly safe. Thousands of users worldwide use Automatix2 every day without any issues.


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