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