Install Applications in Ubuntu

Installing Linux software used to be a pain… now with repositories, it is easier than Windows… and free… “

Now, the process of installing free and legal software is almost seamless with the use of repositories. A repository is a collection of software ready for download and installation for that version of Linux. Also, there are many different repositories that are also available in addition to the “default” repository…

Adding the Multimedia Repository (Medibuntu)

When Linux is installed, there are no connections to software repositories involving restricted software (such as support for proprietary media technology such as “mp3“, “wma“, “avi” files, etc… Distributions such as Ubuntu encourage using “open-source” and “non-restrictive” technologies such as “ogg“, “Theodora” files, etc.

If you want to have your system detect this “proprietary” media, which should automatically run the Synaptic Package Manager to match the most appropriate software to automatically download and install on your system.

(In my own opinion, I think this is truly brilliant, and shows how fast Linux is becoming “user-friendly” to the novice Linux user)…

Here is a link to a webpage that provides instructions on how to do this:

Using the Synaptic Package Manager

The Synaptic Package Manager is a graphic tool to allow the user to search for, select, then automatically download and install applications in Ubuntu Linux. Basically, most current Linux distributions have a graphical software installation tool. For example, Yast (which stands for “Yet Another Setup Tool”) contains a section to install software from repositories in SuSE Linux. Yum or apt-get is the software installation tool for Fedora Linux…

Demonstration of Using Synaptic Package Manager

Let’s demonstrate my installing the games “Planet Penguin Racer”, “Frozen Bubble”, and “Open Area” on your Linux system by using the Synaptic Package Manager.

Steps to Install an Application with the Synaptic Package Manager:

  1. Click SYSTEM -> ADMINISTRATION -> Synaptic Package Manager.
  2. Enter your user password to confirm you are the administrator.
  3. Click on the Settings menu, and select “Repositories“. This will display a dialog box to allow you to select various software repositories. Some repositories only contain open-source software, while other repositories may contain proprietary software (for example, for hardware drivers). If in doubt, just keep the default selections… When you have made your repository selections, then click close.
  4. In the Synaptic Package Manager dialog box, click on the Search button.
  5. Type in the text: Planet Penguin Racer – the package should appear in the application window.
  6. Click on the check box that appears to the left of that application to select that application for download and install. A content menu will appear.
  7. Select the menu item called “Mark for Installation“. There may be an additional window indicating other software applications that need to be installed as well – just click on the “Mark” button.
  8. Click on the “Apply” button. In a few moments, that application will automatically be downloaded and installed on your system.
  9. Repeat steps 4 to 7 each time for the two other games called “Frozen Bubble” and “Open Arena“.
  10. When completed, close the Synaptic Package Manager application window.
  11. Test out to see the installed application by clicking APPLICATIONS -> GAMES -> Game Name

Since these applications (in this example, games) are “open source” programs, they may also be available for the Windows or Mac operating systems (like Planet Penguin Racer). Just as an interesting fact, Planet Penguin Racer was first developed for Linux (the original game name was “Tux Racer”). The name Tux refers to the official mascot of the Linux operating system which is a Penguin.

Many people may think Tux Racer is a “silly” game, but I saw it incorporated into an actual arcade game.

Here is a link to pictures of the arcade game at a Disney resort (notice it is called “Tux Racer”!) : Tux Racer Pictures

Other Installation Methods

Most popular software should be available from the default repositories. As you start using your Linux system and start installing more and more software, you may encounter an application that is NOT available in the Synaptic Package Manager.

If that occurs, you can perform a NetSearch to locate software to manually download and install. This can be a pain for the novice Linux user.

There are several types of ways applications are bundles for download and installation:

1. filename.rpm (RPM Package Mananger)
2. filename.deb (Debian Install Manager)
3. filename.tar.gz , filename.tgz (referred as a “zipped tarball”)

I am not going to go into detail how to install these types of files (It would be difficult for me to try to explain or anticipate all the problems that you may encounter installing using these manual methods).

Problems associated to installing using these manual methods will relate to two types of problems:

  • the wrong rpm or deb file for your version of Linux.
  • a dependency problem. A dependency problem means that the application that you are installing relies on some other software (or updated software version) that isn’t currently installed on your system.

I would recommend keeping with the Synaptic Package Manager to install software, but if you are determined to install software the manual way, here is a link to a resource that may provide help: Other Software Install Methods in Linux

I orginally created this article for my Ubuntu Guide WIKI:

Murray Saul


~ by Murray Saul on October 23, 2009.

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