Installing Software in Ubuntu


Most Windows users who migrate to Ubuntu end up confused about software
installation. They go to a website, download a .tar.gz file,
double-click it, and don't see a Next-Next-Next-Finish wizard. This
tutorial is intended to introduce you to the preferred methods of
software installation in Ubuntu.

Rather than leaving it up to the user to track down installer files and
keep applications updated, Ubuntu (like many other Linux distributions)
has a software package management system that provides a searchable
database of easily installable applications (like an online shopping
cart but the software is cost-free), which it will download and install
for you with a few clicks.

For those of you with smartphones, it's a very similar process
to installing applications using the iTunes App Store or Android

Installing 101: Ubuntu Software Center

The best place to start with this package management process is to use a simple interface for it called

Ubuntu Software Center

. (The Software Center is available as of Ubuntu 9.10; in Ubuntu 9.04 and earlier, there was a similar interface called



Go to


and select

Ubuntu Software Center


If you already know what software you're looking for, you can begin
typing the name of it in the top-right corner to begin the filtering
process. If you don't know, you can also browse by category.

Either way, when you find the application you're looking for, click on the little arrow next to it.

You can read a description of the application or view its website
to get more information about it. Once you're ready to install it,


Since this installation will modify system files and make the
application available to all users of the system, you will be prompted
for your password if you're an administrator of the system.

Wait for the application to install, and then it should be ready to use.

Advanced interface: Synaptic Package Manager

interface for the package manager is Synaptic. Synaptic works very
similarly to Add/Remove, but it has more advanced options. It allows
you more categories and custom filters, and shows you supporting
libraries (not just user applications).

To access Synaptic, go to

System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager

. Then enter your password and click


You can click the


button or press Control-F to
search for software. Once you've found the software you want to
install, right-click it and mark it for installation.

Once you've marked all the software packages you want to install (or remove, too), click


, confirm by clicking


when prompted, and then wait for the package files to download and install. Once they've installed, click



Manual download: .deb

Most of the time,
if you need software, you can use Add/Remove or Synaptic to install it
from the online repositories. Sometimes, software is not available in
the repositories, and you have to go to a website to download it. If
you are able to download a file with a .deb extension, this is the
software package format Ubuntu prefers.

For example, Skype is not in the default Ubuntu repositories, so you
can go to the Skype website, and download the Ubuntu package.


Skype doesn't always update their Ubuntu packages. So, for
example, in this screenshot Skype lists the installer file as being for
Ubuntu 7.04, but I'm using Ubuntu 8.04. Opera, on the other hand, even
if it hasn't changed its browser version numbers will have all the
Ubuntu release versions to choose from. Try to select whichever version
seems most appropriate.

Once the .deb file is on your desktop, double-click it to install
it. You'll be prompted for your password, and then you can just wait
for it to install.

You should then be able to use Skype or whatever application you installed.

Last resorts: .rpm and .tar.gz

preferred way to install software in Ubuntu is to use the package
manager, which you can access through Add/Remove or Synaptic. As we've
seen with Skype, sometimes you can also find a .deb for software not in
the repositories. But what if you can't find a .deb?


If you can't find a .deb, you can try a .rpm. These
files are packaged for other Linux distributions (usually Fedora or
Mandriva), but there is an application called


(which you can install using Synaptic) that allows you (most of the time) to convert .rpm files to .deb.

Read more about this process



As a last resort, you can download a .tar.gz file. The .tar.gz file
extension indicates the file is a compressed set of files and folders
(the compressed files you see in Windows usually have a .zip
extension). If you see the .tar.gz, it could be compressed files that
have a precompiled binary file, or it could be compressed files that
have the source code allowing you to

compile the application from source.

If you have trouble installing a .tar.gz file, you can ask for help on

the Ubuntu Forums



There are other guides out there that help you understand software installation a bit better.


The above essay comes from