In­stalling soft­ware

There are many ways to in­stall soft­ware in Linux, both in and out­side the Ter­mi­nal. What method will best suit you?

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Many Linux pro­grams are stored in what are called repos­i­to­ries (re­pos). Th­ese are online chan­nels that bun­dle to­gether soft­ware of sim­i­lar types, built for spe­cific ver­sions of that dis­tro, Ubuntu for ex­am­ple (so Ubuntu 16.04’s re­pos aren’t the same as those for Ubuntu 14.04, or in­deed 16.10). To fo­cus on Ubuntu there are four main chan­nels for each sep­a­rate ver­sion: Main, Re­stricted, Uni­verse and Mul­ti­verse.

The Main repo con­tains open-source soft­ware that can be re­dis­tributed and is sup­ported by Ubuntu with reg­u­lar up­dates. Uni­verse con­tains free and open-source soft­ware where the com­mu­nity pro­vides up­dates. Re­stricted houses pro­pri­etary (closed source) tools and drivers re­quired to sup­port Ubuntu on ev­ery­day hard­ware, while Mul­ti­verse con­tains soft­ware that’s not free nor sup­ported.

Th­ese re­pos can then be ac­cessed by pack­age man­agers like Soft­wareCen­tre to pro­vide you with a con­ve­nient cen­tral lo­ca­tion for in­stalling and au­to­mat­i­cally up­dat­ing pack­ages.

Be­yond repos­i­to­ries

The ma­jor­ity of pro­grams that you need can be found with th­ese four main re­pos. If you find the Soft­wareCen­tre some­what lim­ited in scope, try a more ro­bust (and a bit more ad­vanced) pack­age man­ager by search­ing for Sy­nap­tic to in­stall the Sy­nap­ticPack­ageMan­ager. This pro­vides a more thor­ough search of re­pos to help you find the pack­ages you’re look­ing for, and gives you a more com­pre­hen­sive (per­haps too much so) list of pro­grams out of the box.

Not all pro­grams are avail­able through the de­fault re­pos – some of­fer their own, which you can add to your pack­age man­ager in one of two ways: ei­ther via Set­tings > Soft­ware & Up­dates > Other Soft­ware, or through the Ter­mi­nal (see below). Once in­stalled, you’ll be alerted to any up­dates when made avail­able by the soft­ware main­tain­ers.

Other pro­grams can be down­loaded in­di­vid­u­ally as pack­ages, which work in a sim­i­lar way to pro­gram in­stall­ers in Win­dows. Th­ese con­tain ev­ery­thing that’s needed for the pro­gram to run suc­cess­fully – not just pro­grams, but ref­er­ences to de­pen­den­cies too, which you’ll be prompted to in­stall if they’re not al­ready on your sys­tem.

Th­ese files of­ten come with a .deb ex­ten­sion. Save this to your Downloads folder, then dou­ble-click the file to pro­ceed – you’ll see your pack­age man­ager should take over at this point. Note that while it’ll record the in­stal­la­tion, your pack­age man­ager won’t be able to de­tect any up­dates – that’s down to the pro­gram or its main­tainer.

In­stall from the Ter­mi­nal

Fa­mil­iarise your­self with the apt range of tools, and you’ll find most of the time the Ter­mi­nal is the best way to in­stall soft­ware pack­ages. Start with the fol­low­ing com­mand: $ sudo apt-get up­date

This re­trieves the lat­est pack­age lists (in­clud­ing up­dated ver­sions) from all in­stalled repos­i­to­ries. The fol­low­ing two com­mands in­stall and re­move soft­ware: $ sudo apt-get in­stall <pack­age> $ sudo apt-get re­move <pack­age>

The fol­low­ing com­mands up­dates all in­stalled soft­ware: $ sudo apt-get up­date && sudo apt-get up­grade

You can also add repos­i­to­ries via the Ter­mi­nal. Many third­party re­pos are hosted at https://launch­pad.net and can be added (if you trust the source) us­ing the fol­low­ing com­mand: $ sudo add-apt-repos­i­tory ppa:<repos­i­tory name>

Ubuntu’s Soft­ware Cen­tre pro­vides a one-stop shop for in­stalling and man­ag­ing soft­ware.

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