Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Installing Programs on Linux

One of the first things I found confusing was how to install a program. I am used to using Windows where I go out and download the exe file and install it. With Linux it is a whole different ball game. I suggest you refer to my package management post here. With Linux instead of an exe you install a package or install from source (which is the hard way). Usually a distro will provide you with an add/remove programs option or a GUI package management program so you can check and uncheck what you want to install and what you don't want to install. I will focus on how to install programs in Ubuntu since that is what I am most familiar with, but these suggestions will work with almost any Debian based distribution.

Add/Remove Programs...
Sounds very windows like doesn't it. Well in the Ubuntu menu in the top left of the screen there is a link to Add/Remove programs. This is the easiest way to install programs in Ubuntu. It lists all the programs that are available from the repositories (where the packages are stored) and you can just check and uncheck the programs you want to add or remove. Very simple.

With synaptic you are given more control but still have a GUI. It lists every package including dependency files that are available for your distribution. You can check parts of programs that maybe aren't working to remove certain files, or add a certain dependency if you are installing software that needs the dependency. Synaptic gives you a lot of control in a nice interface.

The fastest way to install and remove programs. This is a CLI program. It is the hardest of the three to use but like I said the fastest. Many Linux enthusiasts are command line junkies and would easily give up any graphical interface for the command line. I have no reached that point yet, except with apt-get. I love popping open a terminal typing "sudo apt-get install firefox" and boom it downloads and isntalls really quick. You can also remove with this line by typing "sudo apt-get remove firefox" this will remove any program files that only firefox was using from your system. Apt-get is very versatile and very fast. The only part I have problems with is figuring out the names of something I want to install and then have to open synaptic to find the list of available packages.

Like I said this all applies to Ubuntu but can be applied to other distros as well, espcially debian based distros. Others have yum, or rpm, but I can not remember how to use them because I mostly use Debian based distros.

Thanks and God bless,

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