Can’t Install Deb File on Ubuntu 20.04? Here’s What You Need to do!

Brief: Double-clicking on the deb file doesn’t install it via the software center in Ubuntu 20.04? You are not the only one facing this issue. This tutorial shows how to fix it.

On the “things to do after installing Ubuntu 20.04” article, a few readers mentioned that they had trouble installing software from the Deb file.

I found that strange because installing a program using the deb file is one of the simplest methods. All you have to do is to double-click the downloaded file and it opens (by default) with the Software Center program. You click on install, it asks for your password and within a few seconds/minute, the software is installed.

I had upgraded to Ubuntu 20.04 from 19.10 and hadn’t faced this issue with it until today.

I downloaded the .deb file for installing Rocket Chat messenger and when I double-clicked on it to install this software, the file was opened with the archive manager. This is not what I expected.

Error Opening Deb File
DEB files opened with Archive Manager instead of Software Center

The “fix” is simple, and I am going to show it to you in this quick tutorial.

Installing deb files in Ubuntu 20.04

For some reasons, the default software to open the deb file has been set to Archive Manager tool in Ubuntu 20.04. The Archive Manager tool is used for extract zip and other compressed files.

The solution for this problem is pretty simple. You change the default application in Ubuntu for opening DEB files from Archive Manager to Software Install. Let me show you the steps.

Step 1: Right click on the downloaded DEB file and select Properties:

Open Deb Files

Step 2: Go to “Open With” tab, select “Software Install” app and click on “Set as default“.

How to fix deb file not opening with software center

This way, all the deb files in the future will be opened with Software Install i.e. the software center applications.

Confirm it by double clicking the DEB file and see if it open with the software center application or not.

Ignorant bug or stupid feature?

Why deb files are supposed to be opened with Archive Manager is beyond comprehension. I do hope that this is a bug, not a weird feature like not allowing drag and drop files on the desktop in Ubuntu 20.04.

Since we are discussing deb file installation, let me tell you about a nifty tool gdebi. It’s a lightweight application with the sole purpose of installing DEB file. Not always but some times, it can also handle the dependencies.

You can learn more about using gdebi and making it default for installing deb files here.

On a related note, you may also want to read about deleting deb packages.

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  • doesn’t fix it by the way. they still won’t open. have to use the command line and dpkg.

  • Wonder if this is related to the difficulty with Livepatch GUI…have to set it up in terminal.

  • I am running Ubuntu 20 and this happened to me while installing google chrome. However, the solution here did not work. What did work was to open the terminal, navigate to where the .deb file was stored and running “sudo dpkg -i .deb”

    • Thank You! I had an issue with the `snap-store` (“Ubuntu Software”) and this helped alot.
      If someone else is having the same issue, try closing the “Ubuntu software” window and then run the command
      `killall snap-store`. Then try opening the “Ubuntu Software” app again.
      Good luck! :)

  • There seems to be several issues with debs going on with 20.04 and I didn’t realize which the tutorial was for until halfway through.
    “Brief: Double-clicking on the deb file doesn’t install it via the software center in Ubuntu 20.04?”
    That could describe my issue of “Error: file not supported,” too. Perhaps you ought to add the specific issue like “opening with Archive Manager.” to the brief?
    Thanks for the hard work,

  • Unfortunately, i still get an error that says “Cannot install (filename) .AMD … system is .ARM “