Don’t worry, avid Ubuntu users, because the loss of Canonical’s Ubuntu partner repository won’t affect you one bit. We’re just telling you this so you’ll keep it in mind. The same thing Canonical has done through the Ubuntu mailing lists: alert you to changes that no one will notice, for transparency reasons.
In fact, if I ask you what a Canonical partner repository is, can you tell me? Maybe if you’re a long-time Ubuntu user, and even then you can’t even remember the last time you used it, because it’s not just a repository with little content: was-there, it still is-you had to manually enable it in the advanced software management settings.
At the time, this partner repository included packages – always proprietary, obviously – such as Skype clients, Steam or the Flash Player plugin, the last remnant of this distribution channel, which has been completely emptied since the release of Ubuntu 20.10. Indeed, there is nothing in the partner repository in recent versions of Ubuntu.
In short, the Canonical partner repository has been empty for over a year now, and for over two years the only package it contained was Flash Player, a living dead that received its last maintenance update over a year ago and should finally die out this year, but whose actual use in practice is negligible.
But what if some Canonical partner wants to include a shortcut package in Ubuntu? That’s exactly what the Snap Store is for, Ubuntu officials claim, and they’re partly right: as we said, a number of commercial developers have decided to distribute their apps through the Snap Store, which makes sense.
Read: KDE Connect is now available for Windows and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store
For example, Skype is now officially in the Snap Store and the Steam installer has been moved to the Multiverse repository… and yet, in both cases, you can still download packages from the official sites (there’s still Skype in Deb format, yes). However, as I said: third-party apps seem to have found their place in the new app stores, read Snap as well as Flathub.
A separate case is that Ubuntu is collaborating with Snap, which does not bode well, but that, as they say, is another story.