Here is an example question:

Libreoffice “The dictionary is already full.”

It is about LibreOffice, which is a package that is included in the Ubuntu ISO by default, but not made or maintained by Canonical or a second-party.

Why aren't these questions considered off-topic? They aren't about Ubuntu or a package that is included in Ubuntu and made or/and maintained by Canonical or a second-party that Canonical hired to maintain it.

EDIT What I really meant by what I said is programs that are not related to the system, such as LibreOffice, Blender, Inkscape, etc... Stuff like Unity, GNOME, KDE, grub, lightdm, etc... should be on-topic.

I have no idea why I did not mention that in the original question.

  • 4
    Consider that the number of packages actually maintained by Canonical is very small. We'd not have Ask Ubuntu if we restricted to Canonical-supported packages only. Jul 29, 2017 at 19:57
  • I don't understand what you see as different between Gnome and Inkscape. Both are just programs running on Ubuntu. What makes one "related to the system" and the other not? Jul 30, 2017 at 14:44
  • This is Ask Ubuntu, not Ask Canonical. :) Aug 8, 2017 at 20:13

3 Answers 3


Questions about using Ubuntu, the operating system, are on topic. Using an OS includes using applications running on that OS. That's pretty much all that using an OS means. So if we were to make questions asking about software not developed by Canonical off topic, we would have a pretty small site.

Basically, any software that runs on Ubuntu is on topic since we want to provide support to users of Ubuntu. Canonical develops and maintains a tiny number of tools. The vast majority of applications on Ubuntu (both those installed by default and those in the Ubuntu repositories) have absolutely nothing to do with Canonical.

For instance, should we make questions about using KDE off topic? Or Gnome? If your wireless doesn't work, should we send you away because the drivers aren't made by Canonical? What if you have a shell scripting question? I can think of very few questions on the site that are actually about programs developed by Canonical. Apart from questions about Unity, pretty much everything else on the site is about software not directly developed by Canonical. After all, the Linux kernel itself isn't developed by Canonical (although they do modify it for the Ubuntu kernel, the main developers are the Linux Kernel Group) but we can't make the kernel off topic!

So, in short, questions about using software running on Ubuntu are essentially about Ubuntu, and Canonical only maintains a tiny percentage of the software present in Ubuntu so limiting this site to those only would essentially make it useless.

  • I edited my question. Please read the edit.
    – Tooniis
    Jul 30, 2017 at 14:38
  • @Tooniis the same answer stands. I don't really understand the distinction you are making between programs that are "related to the system" and those that aren't. Should the site only allow questions about programs running in kernel space? Jul 30, 2017 at 14:45
  • system packages are necessary to make the system stable and usable, while non system packages are not necessary. Tell me which site is better to ask about blender: blender.stackexchange.com or askubuntu.com? This applies to all other non system packages, or I should say user programs. Also those user programs are not only available on Ubuntu or generally Linux, they are also available on other platforms, mostly Windows and Mac OS, so why not ask questions about them in Q&A sites about Windows or Mac OS?
    – Tooniis
    Jul 30, 2017 at 14:53
  • @Tooniis none of the packages you mentioned are necessary to make the system stable and usable. You can boot using UEFI directly without grub, and anything GUI-related is secondary and not needed. You are making a distinction that isn't really valid. Now, yes, there is a specific site for blender so you might want to ask there about using it, but not about installing it, for example. And there is quite literally nothing that is only available for Ubuntu. Everything is also installable on different distributions. Jul 30, 2017 at 14:57
  • but not to other operating systems
    – Tooniis
    Jul 30, 2017 at 15:00
  • 2
    @Tooniis what do you mean? Should we make basic tools like firefox, chrome, gimp, vim, emacs etc off topic because they're cross platform? We support software that runs on Ubuntu. As long as it is running on Ubuntu and your question comes from the perspective of someone using the tools on Ubuntu, it is on topic. That the specific tool also exists on other platforms isn't relevant. GRUB, for example, which you mentioned, isn't even actually running on Ubuntu. Strictly speaking, it has absolutely nothing to do with Ubuntu and is 100% OS agnostic. Jul 30, 2017 at 15:03
  • forget about what I mentioned. Why Q&A sites for those tools you mentioned (or some of them) exist? Also my question is WHY they are not considered off-topic. I am not looking for a yes/no answer. Now you answered me with yes (on-topic). Why are they on-topic? Is it because the site would be too small without them? If that is the answer I would tell you that most questions I see are not related to those tools.
    – Tooniis
    Jul 30, 2017 at 15:26
  • I agree that questions about the installation of them on Ubuntu should be on-topic, because they can be replicated on Ubuntu only. But the questions about using the tools, such as "how to add a bookmark in Chrome" or "How to convert a curve to a mesh in Blender" should be off-topic, because they can be replicated in any platform.
    – Tooniis
    Jul 30, 2017 at 15:28
  • 2
    @Tooniis no, they are on topic because this site's scope is "Help on using Ubuntu and software running on Ubuntu". The vast majority of the questions on the site are about using some piece of software on Ubuntu. Sometimes, that piece of software is the package manager and sometimes it is Chrome, but the main idea is the same: they're software that runs on Ubuntu. Basically, we aim to be able to help users of Ubuntu with any problem they face using the OS and that includes using software running on the OS. Jul 30, 2017 at 15:33

My take on this is that since the package is running on Ubuntu it's fair game. Granted questions relating to Libre Office might be more efficiently resolved utilizing one of the Community support options and the same could be true for blender or inkscape but it's not surprising that a new user of Ubuntu might turn here for assistance and also be unaware of the direct support options available to them.

  • 1
    "it's not surprising that a new user of Ubuntu might turn here for assistance and also be unaware of the direct support options available to them" that's a good point
    – Tooniis
    Jul 29, 2017 at 14:47
  • I edited my question. Please read the edit.
    – Tooniis
    Jul 30, 2017 at 14:38

This area of Stack Exchange (which is the platform Ask Ubuntu is on) is about using Ubuntu and helping people who use Ubuntu. There are many things I found about GParted on these forums whilst searching a few minutes ago, but they are asked here as they are related to Ubuntu, and anything related to Ubuntu here is not off topic. The whole point of the Stack Exchange community is to help people. So that means so is Ask Ubuntu. Whether it be about Ubuntu itself, LibreOffice, the Debian Package Manager, Apt, or Cowsay, we can all ask it here, as long as it relates to Ubuntu in any way. Ask Ubuntu is one of the largest Linux help platforms out here on the Internet. When searching for something I want to do on Debian, it's highly possible the answer is on here! To be honest, anything I need to search for is either on Ask Ubuntu, or Stack Overflow! I even came across this question (which is on the meta) whilst looking for how to change a mounted partition's size on Elementary OS (which is related to Ubuntu as it is based on our favorite OS!) I hope this answers your question, ~Dan

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