The above posts are GREAT advice
almost all the time it is MUCH easier to use the already built and packaged software for your distro
-- in your case a debian based distro
it can be fun and very educational to build software
BUT it takes some time to learn things
-- A LOT of time sometimes --
in a source package there are normally ( but NOT always )
or a folder called "Doc"
readme and install MIGHT ??? have the build instructions
but most of the time a standard "boilerplate" stating in 500 words
---- your root password ---
or they might tell you to read the documentation on there web site
the normal everyday tools on linux are gcc and "Autotools"
but not always
it might use "cmake" , " scons" or " qmake " or something else
--- example : cmake --
one example of a slightly non standard build process is the astronomy Planetarium program " Stellarium "
it uses "cmake"
you have to make sure that the source for ALL the build dependencies ARE INSTALLED and working !!!
this is a lot of work
sudo apg-get install stellarium
is much easier
-- example for scons ---
a HP calculator ( using the original HP rom's)
-- i use the hp 41c and the hp 15c on my openSUSE install
( i still have my 15c , but my 41 was stolen a few years back,it was my first REAL calculator )
-- i will NOT go into detail on building this
example for "qmake"
the QT4 ( not the qt3/kde3 or GTK 2.4) build of Celestia
-- i have posted the instructions for this all over the web
and read the celestia forum
but building programs from source is a way to LEARN things
but it takes time, patients , reading , MORE READING , and a lot more patients .
A good and rather complicated project ( but easy to do )
is build " The Gimp" photo editor
it is VERY VERY well documented
with a ton of guides on the web