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Choosing a download manager in Ubuntu

After I wrote the guide on how to schedule downloads in Windows and Ubuntu, somebody wrote to me a very long email after they read the piece.

According to the tirade, Wget is the best download manager ever and how dare I tell people to use aria2c without mentioning this core truth. The diatribe ended by telling me how I should do the world a favour and show myself the way to the after world.

Of course, I am used to such invective correspondence and polemics which are primarily every successful and awesome person’s problem so my foes can rest assured I will not be offing myself soon.

I have, however, decided to in fact point out the fact that Ubuntu, and most Linux distros, do in fact come with a download manager called Wget as my nemesis pointed out to me and that there are a lot of other download managers that one can use in Ubuntu.

I am going to look at my favourite download managers and where possible provide a list of pros and cons of each manager.



wget-min (1)

As I have already pointed out, Wget comes preinstalled on every Linux distro from Ubuntu to Puppy Linux and Tinycore. Like all Linux goodies, this is a command line program which makes it powerful and forbidding at the same time.

Wget is extremely versatile: it can run in daemon mode, allows you to put your download list into a text or HTML file, can act as a bot, can keep retrying until a file is retrieved, can resume downloads, make you coffee and just about everything else you can dream of.

It does not,not however, support multi-threading (multiple connections to the same server) which is not a big deal if you have a 20 Mbps FTTH connection but is a pretty big deal on slower internet connections.


To install type the following commands in your terminal:

sudo apt-get update&&sudo apt-get install aria2c

Aria2c does pretty much everything Wget does and more. Like Wget, this is a pretty much command line program which again can be a turnoff for those who are easily intimidated by the command line but gives power and flexibility to power users.

It is multi-threaded, which means a significant speed boost for those on slower connections. It also supports torrent downloads all you need to do is supply the magnet link or torrent file location or URL as an argument and you are done. I have however encountered strange errors when attempting to download torrents using magnet links so it is far from a perfect experience.


A uget download manager window. Image credit

Uget is, in my opinion, the best GUI download manager in Ubuntu. It can act as a GUI front end to the powerful aria2c download manager which means it can do what aria2c and Wget can do and the “command line is too hard” cry babies can use it too.

It has the added advantage of browser integration although this does not currently work with the Chrome browser. There are also things like batch downloads, clipboard monitoring, download categories, automatic download scheduling, the ability to shutdown the computer after downloads have been completed among a host of other features. Uget is the Internet Download Manager of Ubuntu and you can never go wrong with it.

Follow the commands below to install it:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:plushuang-tw/uget-stable
sudo apt update
sudo apt install uget



Back when Firefox was my favourite browser, downloadthemall was also my favourite download manager and if you are one of those who still swear by Firefox then this is the download manager for you. It is easy to use, can be used to download all links in a page in Firefox, can be integrated with the FlashGot plugin, supports batch downloads and it is multithreaded. The big drawback is that this is still a plugin and you will need Firefox for it to work and it does not support scheduling and these are important to me.


Image credit
Image credit

Flareget is like the internet download manager for Linux. The free version pretty much sucks, so if you really want to get anywhere with this download manager you will have to part with $20 every year. It works well, but I am not paying $20 bucks for a download manager. It is especially great if you have command line phobia.


Whenever I want to download single files instead of in batches, I use the Axel download manager and accelerator. It is a pretty powerful but simple command line program that allows you specify things like the number of connections.

I have found its performance to be way better than that of aria2c although it lacks the bells and whistles of the later. It is useless when you want to make batch downloads since you cannot specify input files although you can work around this by creating a simple batch script instead if you are determined enough.

sudo apt-get update&&sudo apt-get install axel


Rsync is the granddaddy of download managers and ranks as my favourite non-interactive download manager. It is not for the faint-hearted however as it takes a lot of command line arguments which can overwhelm even the best of us Linux users.

I have a special $1.99/month VPS with OVH that I use with Rsync since in order for it to work it needs to be installed on both the server and client computer. I download all the larger files that I want to this VPS which is on a 1Gbps connection. Once my ISP’s off-peak period kicks in the cron daemon on my client computer runs a rsync command that syncs the remote folder with my local folder.

Setting up rsync for the first time is a bit involved. First you need to set up certificate based authentication between the local and remote computer, create the folders that you want to sync and set up a cronjob to automatically sync the two folders. Once you have done this you can simply download your files to the remote VPS whenever you want and wait for them to appear on your local server. Only incremental changes are downloaded.

I make do with uget,axel and rync myself but Ubuntu is all about choices, you find what works for you and stick to it or change it whenever you want. See nemesis, wget is not the only download manager in Ubuntu and it is certainly not the most powerful.

Image credit:

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6 thoughts on “Choosing a download manager in Ubuntu

  1. Download manager wont help us till we know how fast the net*one LTE connection is. Garikai taura na Nigel atipe ma speed test that were promised day before.

  2. On a serious note. If I have two ethernet interfaces say wlan0 and eth1 or eth0 and eth1 how do i spread the threads across both interfaces for a single torrent?

    1. Kkkk! I am sure he is working on the speed test thing but it’s the government dude . I am sure there are lots and lots of forms to be filled before he gets through to some CDE who will give him the permission to go and fill more forms to be allowed to be considered to do the test.

      Anyway I am not yet sure how you can do this but I will look into it.

  3. Generally, I don’t do a lot of command-line downloading on Linux, but when I do, it’s probably with wget… or apt-get for downloading .deb files. I don’t swear by firefox as much as I do, but I still stongly believe DownThemAll is still the best, light and FREE download manager out there.

  4. The correct name is “DownThemAll!” and not “DownloadThemAll”. For the rest, it’s a very good post and I’m going to share it on my social accounts. The troll that sent you emails was pretty dumb since the single connection “limitation” alone does not make wget always the best choice. 🙂

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