All right so I’m on my way to Palmdale (Hello Happy from Zero Gravity Racing!), not like anyone should care, I just thought it would be nice to mention. And I’m thinking about what I should write about. And now that I think about it, I notice that at school, most people are trying out Ubuntu, or some other Linux distro, not only is it recognized as a decent operating system, but also as one that trains the user on how the machine really works and functions, also how to install software the right way and not the Windows way, which is by simply clicking next, next, finish. Ok so to get started I’d like to introduce you to the software center. (Codename AppCenter)
Now, in an ideal world, installing software should always be this easy and free. So how does all this voodoo work? It’s basically just a simple GUI front-end for the Debian Advanced Packaging Tool. And well simply put, all these packages you see available are actually available on a server out there precompiled and just ready to be installed on your specific Ubuntu system. In fact the amazing thing about the software center is that you can go to the server online and just straight up download it from there. But this is only recommended if you know exactly what you need, because you may miss a package or a couple of dependencies, which are packages that depend on others. It’s a little complicated, but that’s why some people prefer to manually install or compile the software.
So I’ll be to the point, if you can, install software from here, if it’s not available here, then proceed to the next step.
Search the online site, Sometimes the one in the software center, or repository as it’s sometimes called, doesn’t carry that program you are looking for and you try looking and maybe if you do find it, it turns out to be an older package that doesn’t have all the new features in there yet. But don’t worry there’s still hope. Downloading straight from the site is still an effective method. Now, you can download Linux software from download.com, but I don’t trust any software site to put in my system, unless it’s direct from the manufacturer, or in this case, the official site. Let’s use Cairo-dock as a good example, this is a cool dock that you can download from the software center, my favorite, but I use AWN now, don’t judge me. But the one in the repository is a bit old, and the site has the newest one always, well, you might have three options, 1: Download the .deb from the site and install the .exe method, but to tell you the truth, when you do this, you are going to have to do this every-time you install a new one, it won’t update automatically with your system. And that’s a drag, that’s why most people prefer the second method, adding it to the software sources list.
The Software Sources is a list on your Linux machine that keeps track or sites that have software to be available for your pc. You can add the specific cairo-dock PPA, is what it’s called and it will automatically add dependencies and the newest version with every update, and adding a PPA is a simple as one command line, given to you from the website or adding one line to the list with a nice GUI.
This is what the openSUSE Software Sources looks like, at least on my machine, automatically Google added chrome here, how nice of them, i added the VLC and VirtualBox one. Ubuntu one works almost the exact same way, along with most distros.
Now the last resort, compiling it yourself, the nice thing about Ubuntu us that you rarely have to do this, but on some occasions you have to, and this involves reading that dreaded README file that you Windows users like ignoring for some reason. Or in Linux’s case, the INSTALL file. This will explain how to properly install or compile the software for your specific system. Most of the times it as easy as “cd /to/program/path” “./compile” “make” “sudo make install” and wham, it;s installed on your system.
One other thing I forgot to mention about .debs, is that they are perfect for installing web browsers. Yes that’s right, if you go to www.google.com/chrome you will see at the bottom the option to install a Linux version, no one ever sees that link unless their looking for it, very secret. And it offers to install a .deb for your Ubuntu whether it’s a 64bit or 32bit, and the best part about this is that it adds the PPA automatically while installing! So next time you update it will automatically check for the newest chrome. Opera browser does this too, and along with very well built debs. Making life easier and lazier. Because underneath the .debs is just software and a bunch of terminal commands telling it where to put it, where as compiling, you have to type in the commands yourself, and every package is different so you learn something about your system. So remember, some .debs automatically add to the Sources List, but not all, it might warn you about it, so don’t install .debs like some crazy trigger-happy lolo.
Now let’s say you didn’t like certain software you put in your computer, how do you remove a .deb? I can’t find the uninstall button? Well, you know how to do this in the software center, click remove, but for a .deb, there’s this thing called, computer janitor, and that removes .debs, also you can go into the Software Packages in system administration and there you might see some deb packages that are installed on your system, here you right click and remove. Now with compiled packages that’s tough, because usually you have to find the location you installed from and run “sudo make uninstall” and that might remove it, or in the install folder there might me an uninstall script for you, maybe even in the folder location in your home folder, it really depends on the package itself, usually the README or INSTALL file will tell you how to, so make sure you read a lot! That’s why most people don’t like to compile on Linux for that matter, might as well hate it all right? Well, there’s a good reason, most people don’t understand the seriousness of installing software, they all think it’s point, click accept, next, next, finish. And to remove it’s an uninstall icon, but you notice that the more you do that on a Windows system, it will slow down? Yes, even by keeping it clean, if you install and remove software often, registries, .dlls, system files get bogged down, and Linux doesn’t have this problem, the only problem is getting the software to work, and if your willing to put in the time to get that on program to work, it would be worth it and no system slowdowns ever (If properly maintained). I got used to Linux cause I remember that when I still used windows, I would often, restore my pc monthly, yes, monthly I would delete my Windows and replace it with a fresh, premade (Home made of course) Custom Windows backup. And it was worth it, I could test, play and once it felt slow, replace. It’s nice, but you don’t get to know your pc well like that. Now I can go 6 months without replacing my main OS. However most of the time I resort to that is my own fault. If you are not careful and you install crazy PPAS on your system, and don’t maintain your Linux system you can break it, so slow it down like crazy. Because in the end, Windows or Ubuntu, it’s all imperfect software, and we’re all imperfect humans.
I also want to get around to talking about wine, the best way to install this Software is by going to the site and adding the repository to the Sources List. That way you always have the latest one. If you are using a stable system like Debian, and you want to use the beta one, you might have to compile it. Ok, now what is wine? Oh sorry I tend to get carried away. See, Ubuntu will always have some Windows program it will never be able to replace, such as, certain video games, company software and maybe ones you don;t like the Linux replacement, such as I know people who can’t live without MS Word, weirdos. Haha just kidding, Well, Wine allows you to install most windows programs on Linux, I think I mentioned this before, and it works so well, one dude I installed Ubuntu for called me up and said he was having trouble installing iTunes. I told him, go to the site, see there how it says for Windows and Mac only? If you can find an Ubuntu or any other Linux version please tell, me, I would pay for it! But he was confused because he could install his other windows software but not iTunes, he forgot he was using Linux, not windows, anyways, Wine is that good, it let’s you run .exes and other windows software with virtually no difference in windows. However for somethings, like iTunes, wine may not replace, so either compromise is necessary, eg, banshee, amarok, rhythmbox, or a dual-boot is necessary, but understand that you have options! And that’s one thing you’ll never get with windows or Mac. Say you like garage-band for mac, if you use windows and want to get it, the only option is buy a mac. See, in the Linux world you have options, most of the time. And that can sometimes be a blessing or a curse, but most of the times, it’s a blessing, especially for us who like to do things the hard way.
PS, i have yet to finish that VirtualBox vs Vmware post, i accidentally deleted the post, darn you human error!, and i have to rewrite it, plus i have been slacking, for i am a slacker, darn you american laziness!
Posted on March 20, 2011, in Linux Stuff and tagged Advanced Packaging Tool, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Software Packages, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Software Center, VirtualBox. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.