How to install things on Linux [Ubuntu]

As much as you love Minesweeper or Super Tux, soon in life you come to a point when you will want to install new software (usually from the internet repositories in Linux).

I’m not an expert on Linux nor programming but this is how i think about Linux and based on my experience, it’s how a newbie would want to get help.

In Ubuntu Linux i have found 4 methods of doing this:

  1. Go to Applications > Ubuntu Software Center. Browse and hit install.
  2. Go to System > Administration > Synaptic package Manager. Search, mark for installation and hit Apply.
  3. In Terminal use: sudo apt-get install [app name or library] – sudo will go into super user mode, this is requiered because applications sometimes put some files in restricted places for the regular user.
  4. Because Linux is Open source, there are tones of developers who make Linux software and this kind of software is found on repository servers (which you can install with the first 3 methods or as archives with source files, found on or places like that)

Method 4 in depth: How to install from source files (general scenario):

  • download the software/archive
  • navigate to the downloaded archive, usually /home/your_user_name/downloads/
  • right click the archive > Extract Here and you will get a folder (with …… stuff in it 🙂 )
  • find and read files like README or INSTALL (for Windows users – on Linux you don’t need to have file types so if you don’t see .txt or .doc or .exe it’s just fine, if you double click the file you can view it’s contents or run the file)
  • now you have to compile those raw sources of the software into a working application and we will use the Terminal here:
  • Open a terminal and go into the directory of the sources or visualy navigate in Nautilus in that directory, right-click inside the folder > Open Terminal and you will get a Terminal right into the working current folder.
  • type at the prompt:
  • ./configure [and press Enter]- things will happen
  • make [and press Enter] – things will happen again
  • sudo make install [and press Enter]
  • type your super user password and press Enter – if everything went ok, you should have a bright clean new application installed.


  • after you issue ./configure you get some errors. Software use different libraries that must be installed on the computer prior to installation and ./configure it’s setting up the installation process and will check if all the stuff the software needs (the dependencies) are installed.
  • if ./configure will stop with an error, usually you don’t have some library installed. The error, in general will show you very clearly what you are missing.
  • install the missing piece very easy with Synaptic Package Manager (Method 2)
  • run ./configure again. If you get an error again, go to the above steps to get rid of the new error.
  • if ./configure raised no error, continue  with make and sudo make install part.
  • in general, make and sudo make install will raise no errors if the ./configure part was ok.

How you can start the application ?

  • If the link is not in the Start Menu or on the Desktop, you can type the name of the app in a terminal from the /home/user_name/ folder
  • or if you don’t know where the app was installed, try to locate it:
  • locate [name_of_app]
  • go to the directory of the app and type it’s name and press Enter
  • if it doesn’t work, you have to make the app executable by right-clicking > Properties > Permissions and here check Allow execution…. After that double-click on the executable file or type ./[name_of_app]

I am open for corrections, sugestions and more info so feel free to pop in a comment and stay tuned…

P.S. i think this article is full of grammar errors 🙂


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