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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
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In a very general sense a ppa is a cookbook of sorts. You do a search for an application. It should or may say to add in a ppa to allow installation. Then when you try to install the ppa has the directions.
Distribution: Debian Wheezy, Jessie, Sid/Experimental, playing with LFS.
PersonalPackageArchives are usually located at Launchpad but you can have your own located anywhere you want to. On the launchpad page that is for the PPA there will usually be a drop down you click on to locate your version of Ubuntu, click the drop down and a small box will appear that gives you the archive address for your sources.list. Add it to your sources.list and refresh. You should now be able to access the archive through synaptic, apt, aptitude.