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Old 11-13-2008, 06:25 PM   #1
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Linux basics that I am missing trying to switch from windows

I have been trying to get switched from XP to Ubuntu but I am missing one of the basics of linux. I have tried to use linspire and then I tried openSUSE and now I am onto Ubuntu and the one thing in all of them that is common is I don't know how to install software. I can use the add/remove software just fine but there is other things that I find on the internet that I download that are .gz files and are not .deb and I don't understand how to install them. Here is a couple of steps that they have me do:

1. `cd' to the directory containing the package's source code and type
`./configure' to configure the package for your system. If you're
using `csh' on an old version of System V, you might need to type
`sh ./configure' instead to prevent `csh' from trying to execute
`configure' itself.

Running `configure' takes awhile. While running, it prints some
messages telling which features it is checking for.

2. Type `make' to compile the package.

3. Optionally, type `make check' to run any self-tests that come with
the package.

4. Type `make install' to install the programs and any data files and

5. You can remove the program binaries and object files from the
source code directory by typing `make clean'. To also remove the
files that `configure' created (so you can compile the package for
a different kind of computer), type `make distclean'. There is
also a `make maintainer-clean' target, but that is intended mainly
for the package's developers. If you use it, you may have to get
all sorts of other programs in order to regenerate files that came
with the distribution.
I know that anyone that is using linux will know this but I have not been able to find the answer. Where do I type `cd' and make and make install?????

If i could figure this out then I think that I would be on my way. Every software that I have tried to install assumes that you already know this stuff. Even the beginning web pages and things on the internet assume that you already know this.

HELP. I am almost considering going back to windows, but I don't want to. Not over the basics anyway.

Thanks for your time.
Old 11-13-2008, 06:40 PM   #2
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In the first place, I'd strongly recommend trying to stick to SW available via the pkg mgr you've got until you get more used to Linux. That should be able to provide the sw (or equiv) of almost anything you want. The repositories are extensive.
If you really want to go this route, here are some guidelines.

(you may need to be root to do some of this)
1. Open an xterm (cmd line) and create a dir to put the sw into. I usually create one (named after the sw I'm going to install) under the /opt dir.
2. download the sw into the dir
3. cd to the dir

4. If its eg x.tar.gz or x.tgz file, that's a tarred+gzipped file, so to unzip/unroll it

tar -zxvf <filename>

if its x.tar.bz2 or x.tbz2, thats tar+bzip2, use 'j' instead of 'z'

tar -jxvf <filename>

If you are not sure, you can use the 'file' cmd to check what you've got thus:

file <filename>

5. Often that will create a new subdir under the current dir. In either case, look for a README or help file or something like that eg anything.txt
That will tell you what to do next.
Generally you'll need to be in the dir where the src code is to do the configure/make instructions.

Useful links:

Last edited by chrism01; 11-13-2008 at 06:41 PM.
Old 11-13-2008, 07:01 PM   #3
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Registered: Aug 2001
Location: Fargo, ND
Distribution: SuSE AMD64
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I'd just make a couple small changes to what was said. I have a "downloads" subdirectory in my home directory. That is where I save downloads to and where I untar the .tar.gz package and build the package. All of the steps except "make install" should be done as a normal user, so you want to build a package in your home directory where you have full read/write/execute rights.

The last step will normally install to directories under /usr. However, you may want to change that to /usr/local/. Look at "configure help" to see how to change the base of the installation from /usr or /usr/local. Add /usr/local/bin to your PATH in your ~/.bash_profile file ( or ~/.bash_login or ~/.profile, whichever you use).
Also make sure that /usr/local/lib is in /etc/ and run "ldconfig" as root. Then the libraries will be found when the program loads. You only need to add /usr/local/bin, /usr/local/sbin to PATH and /usr/local/lib (/usr/local/lib64 for 64 bit distro as well) to /etc/ once. /usr/local is guaranteed to be left unchanged by your distro.

An advantage of using your distro's repository is that the source is built using the same versions of libraries. If you download a projects source from the web, you will often have more dependencies you need to satisfy because the same libraries you have are the wrong versions.
Old 11-13-2008, 08:05 PM   #4
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In addition to using add/remove software in ubuntu, use the synaptic package manager. There are over 25,000 packages in there, and you can search them for keywords. I have found that I am almost always able to find a package in the repositories that accomplishes whatever task I'm looking for.
Old 11-13-2008, 08:32 PM   #5
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Old 11-13-2008, 09:33 PM   #6
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Using the synaptic package manager worked it had what I was looking for. I didn't know that this was in here. Thank you very much. For now I am going to just stick with the synaptic package manager until I get a little better with linux. I am hoping to learn a lot more and become an expert but that is down the road.

Thank you very much again.
Old 11-14-2008, 07:25 AM   #7
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