ORB: New Generation of Linux Apps Are Here

ORB apps for offline and portable apps installation in Ubuntu

We have talked about installing applications offline in Ubuntu before. And we are going to talk about it once again.

Orbital Apps has brought us a new type of application package, ORB, with portable applications, interactive installer support and offline usage ability.

Portable applications are always handy. Mostly because they can run on-the-fly without needing any administrator privileges, and also it can be carried around on small USB sticks along with all their settings and data. And these interactive installers will be able to allow us to install applications with ease.

Open Runnable Bundle (ORB)

ORB is a free & open-source package format and it’s different from the others in numerous ways. Some of the specifications of ORB is followings:

  • Compression: All the packages are compressed with squashfs making them up-to 60% smaller.
  • Portable Mode: If a portable ORB application is run from a removable drive, it’ll store its settings and data on that drive.
  • Security: All ORB packages are signed with PGP/RSA and distributed via TLS 1.2.
  • Offline: All the dependencies are bundled with the package, so no downloading dependencies anymore.
  • Open package: ORB packages can be mounted as ISO images.

Variety

ORB applications are now available in two varieties:

  • Portable Applications
  • SuperDEB

1. Portable ORB Applications

Portable ORB Applications is capable of running right away without needing any installation beforehand. That means it’ll need no administrator privileges and no dependencies! You can just download them from the Orbital Apps website and get to work.

And as it supports Portable Mode, you can copy it on a USB stick and carry it around. All its settings and data will be stored with it on that USB stick. Just connect the USB stick with any system running on Ubuntu 16.04 and you’ll be ready to go.

Available Portable Applications

Currently, more than 35 applications are available as portable packages, including some very popular applications like: Deluge, Firefox, GIMP, Libreoffice, uGet & VLC.

For a full list of available packages, check the Portable ORB Apps list.

Using Portable Application

Follow the steps for using Portable ORB Applications:

  • Download your desired package from the Orbital Apps site.
  • Move it wherever you want (local drive / USB stick).
  • Open the directory where you’ve stored the ORB package.

    Using Portable ORB Apps 1
    Open the directory and right-click on the ORB package
  • Open Properties of the ORB package.

    Using Portable ORB Apps 2
    Add Execute permission to ORB package
  • Add Execute permission from Permissions tab.
  • Double-click on it.

Wait for a few seconds as it prepares itself for running. And you’re good to go.

2. SuperDEB

Another variety of ORB Applications is SuperDEB. SuperDEBs are easy and interactive installers that make the software installation process a lot smoother. If you don’t like to install software from terminal or software centers, SuperDEB is exactly for you.

And the most interesting part is that you won’t need an active internet connection for installing as all the dependencies are bundled with the installer.

Available SuperDEBs

More than 60 applications are currently available as SuperDEB. Some of the popular software among them are: ChromiumDeluge, Firefox, GIMP, Libreoffice, uGet & VLC.

For a full list of available SuperDEBs, check the SuperDEB list.

Using SuperDEB Installer

  • Download your desired SuperDEB from Orbital Apps site.
  • Add Execute permission to it just like before ( Properties > Permissions ).
  • Double-click on the SuperDEB installer and follow the interactive instructions:
    Using SuperDEB Installer 1
    Click OK
    Using SuperDEB Installer 2
    Enter your password and proceed
    Using SuperDEB Installer 3
    It’ll start Installing…

    Using SuperDEB Installer 4
    And soon it’ll be done…
  • After finishing the installation, you’re good to use it normally.

ORB Apps Compatibility

According to Orbital Apps, they are fully compatible with Ubuntu 16.04 [64 bit].

Reading suggestion: How To Know If You Have 32 Bit or 64 Bit Computer in Ubuntu

As for other distros compatibility is not guaranteed. But we can say that, it’ll work on any Ubuntu 16.04 flavors (UbuntuMATE, UbuntuGNOME, Lubuntu, Xubuntu etc.) and Ubuntu 16.04 based distros (like upcoming Linux Mint 18). We currently have no information if Orbital Apps is planning on expanding its support for other Ubuntu versions/Linux Distros or not.

If you’re going to use Portable ORB applications often on your system, you can consider installing ORB Launcher. It’s not necessary but is recommended installing to get an improved experience. The shortest method of installing ORB Launcher is opening the terminal and enter the following command:

wget -O - https://www.orbital-apps.com/orb.sh | bash

You can find the detailed instructions at official documentation.

What if I need an app that’s not listed?

If you need an application as ORB package that is not available right now, you can contact Orbital Apps. And the good news is, Orbital Apps is working hard and planning on releasing a tool for creating ORB packages. So, hopefully, soon we’ll be able to make ORB packages ourselves!

Just to add, this was about installing apps offline. If you are interested, you should read how to update or upgrade Ubuntu offline.

So, what do you think about Orbital Apps’ Portable Applications and SuperDEB installers? Will you try them?

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  • I quite frankly do not see the point. You make the point that they might be great for those who have limited internet connection, well how to do initially get these portable apps? do they magically appear on your pen drive or CD? I doubt it. Can you purchase them via some sort of service that mail them via snail mail or regular shipping on a pen drive or CD? If not then why not just choose your Distro of choice and then simply install your desired apps from a known and trusted Distro repository when you are able to be online? In my opinion this is just another not really needed item in the Linux universe that only really serves to further confuse the new Linux user. I have used Linux since 1999 and have noticed over the years that there are a lot of developers that have a major issue and that is the not invented here syndrome, so there is an over abundance of utilities etc that are reinvented supposedly because they are “Better” than what has preceded it. A good example are utilities for configuring your network or WiFi that are pushed out with the popular desktop environments, with many times I have needed to use the command line that always works. I have run across several older utilities that are not quite as visually appealing as the newer ones but that just worked. I cannot remember the name but I discovered one when using the light weight Puppy Linux a few years ago. I am rather old fashioned and strongly believe that if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. For me my favorite desktop environment that I used for many years was Gnome that is before the devs broke it by releasing v 3. In my opinion all they really accomplished was to upset probably over 50% of their user base who quickly abandoned the desktop in search of something else. They broke a very popular desktop for the sake of change and this is not always for the better.

    • Hi Robert,

      Fair question. And to answer that, I’ll answer from my past experience.

      You see, when I say ‘limited internet connection’, I don’t mean no connection at all.

      10-12 years back, when Internet was scarce in India, most of us used to go to an ‘internet cafe’. With these public computer with internet, we used to download software, put them on USB drive and then used it to install software on personal computers.

      Things have changed but not a lot. In developing countries, many people still have limited internet connectivity. Unlimited internet connection is still a luxury. Many people use their mobile network and connect the PCs via hotspot.

      When each MB of data connection is counted, I see ORB apps a good solution. You download the SuperDeb (either in an internet cafe or on your personal computer using your own data). You make a collection of these files on your external hard disk for future usage. This way, one doesn’t have to use internet connection each times a certain software needs to be installed (on the same computer or several computers).

      I agree that if the OS has the apps installed by default, this wouldn’t be needed. But then, an OS cannot install all the software by default.

      For the part of “reinvented supposedly because they are “Better” than what has preceded”, I agree to a larger extent. You shouldn’t neglect the design part though.

      To me, if someone is reinevnting the wheel, it better be a rubber tyre rather than a square wheel just because square looked cooler.

  • Besides the portability option, would you say these are better than canonicals snap packages? Snap’s bundle their dependencies as well so I’m curious which one is better.