With most programs it's simple (.tar.gz file):
tar zxvf filename <- to unpack
cd directoryname <- to move to a directory created during unpacking the source
./configure <- to run configuration script
make <- to compile
make install <- to install
As I've written before, it's a standard way, working with most sources. You can test it with something not essential, for example a game. Freeciv (www.freeciv.org
) may be a good choice.