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For years now, we have added links to apps.ubuntu.com with pretty little icons and banners. Recent consensus is that we should stop adding those links (I agree).

However, the existing links had at least some value, until now. Their target pages used to have buttons with the apt:// URLs, so even if the site didn't have recent releases, visitors could have conceivably used those buttons to install the software.

No longer:

$ curl -I https://apps.ubuntu.com/cat/applications/vlc
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2018 11:22:14 GMT
Server: Apache
Location: https://snapcraft.io/store
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

The redirection makes no attempt to use the original URL, so users who click on such links are faced with a search page:

I think this makes for terrible UX.

As I see it, we don't have many options. We can:

  1. remove such URLs as we come across them
    1. or go on a rampage
  2. ask SE to mass-remove them (not likely to happen, but probably worth a shot)
  3. ask Canonical to use the package name as a search term:

    https://apps.ubuntu.com/cat/applications/vlc ->
    https://snapcraft.io/search?q=vlc
    

    This way, the links retain some marginal utility (though I assume the vast majority of "applications" on apps.ubuntu.com haven't become snaps).

  4. Change these to http://apt.ubuntu.com/p/... (as suggested by @dessert). There are ~1500 posts with this URL vs ~2800 posts with apps.ubuntu.com.
    1. Possibly by asking either SE to do so or Canonical to change the redirect.

Thoughts?

  • I didn’t even notice I used a different link, but http://apt.ubuntu.com/p/PACKAGE, e.g. http://apt.ubuntu.com/p/sl works like a charm – maybe we just replace the links? Or maybe replace with apt links directly, if that works? I consider this feature very useful, we should not remove, but rather replace the links IMHO! – dessert Jun 13 '18 at 12:17
  • @dessert added that as an option. But that domain doesn't do HTTPS, I think. – muru Jun 13 '18 at 12:46
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    Not evereybody (me) may want to direct people to snaps – Takkat Jun 15 '18 at 10:15
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    I cannot access apt.ubuntu.com. It just replies with an empty response. – Nonny Moose Jun 18 '18 at 13:33
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    P.S. Suggestion: simply change the links to apt:// links. – Nonny Moose Jun 18 '18 at 13:34
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    This is a great example (spanning the whole stack exchange network) on why links to external websites should be discouraged and minimized, because even seemingly "reputable" websites will eventually break their URIs even though it's not cool to do so – pipe Jun 19 '18 at 15:34
  • @pipe links to external resources are generally OK provided that the answer summarizes their content (adding a link is also good so the Wayback Machine gets another chance to crawl it). Unfortunately APT links are not summarized, probably we should just point to apt://. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jun 20 '18 at 13:39
  • +1 1.1. rampage – Robert Riedl Jun 21 '18 at 10:41

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