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Four top tips for installing software on to Linux PCs

Four different installation methods and their pitfalls

Installing software when you using Linux isn't a particularly hard task, but installations do come in several different varieties. We've rounded up four ways to install new software on to your Linux PC in a bid to help you choose the way that's right for you.

When it comes to Linux as an OS, installing new software isn't a particularly hard task, but installations do come in several different varieties, so it's worth understanding the differences and what you'll need to know to make them work. We've rounded up the four ways to install new software on to your Linux PC in a bid to help you choose what's right for you.

Use the built-in package manager

The easiest way to get new software onto a Linux system is to use the integrated package management system that is included with your distribution. You can use the package manager to download thousands of software packages that have been pre-built and tested for your specific version of Linux.

In Linux OSes, software packages are usually equivalent to applications, although an application may in fact consist of several packages. For example, a graphics editor app may be made up of a package with the main program, a package with the documentation, and a package with the system libraries that the application needs to run.

One advantage of using an integrated package manager is that it will usually download and install all the related packages that your chosen package depends on. With a live internet connection, you can download everything you need in one operation.

Another advantage to using the built-in package manager is that the system will periodically check for upgrades to your newly installed package(s), which means that they will stay up to date - although 'up to date' is a relative concept with packages.

The package management system used in Debian-based distributions (including Ubuntu) is called the Synaptic Package Manager and is found under the System menu. If you know the name of the package you want to install, you can also install it from the command line by typing 'sudo apt-get install packagename' (packagename is the name of your chosen software package). Be aware that the names can be a little quirky.

Red Hat-based distributions (including Fedora) use a system called PackageKit under the covers. You can get to the graphical front end by going to the System menu, clicking on Administration, and then Add/Remove Program. From the command line, you use 'sudo yum install packagename'.

NEXT PAGE: Using a third-party package

  1. Four different installation methods and their pitfalls
  2. Using a third-party package
  3. Use the application's own installer
  4. Compile it yourself

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