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GNU/Linux systems usually use a very different system of installing software compared to Windows or Mac.

Methods of installation Edit

Most GNU/Linux software is available as a 'package' that can be easily installed using a package manager such as dpkg or RPM.

The main tool that Debian users use is APT, the Advanced Packaging Tool, which automatically finds and downloads packages, then hands them over to dpkg to do the installation.

Some software is not available in the Debian '.deb' format, and needs to be compiled manually. This usually isn't too difficult however.

Some software is also distributed in a different type of package, such as RPM or Autopackage. There are ways of using them with Debian however - see below.

APT Edit

Main article: Installing with APT

APT downloads all the packages you need then installs them using dpkg, the actual package manager that does the installation. All the Debian packages (.deb's) that are needed are stored in some central repositories which contain the packages and an index to tell APT what packages are available.

RPM Edit

Main article: Installing RPMs with Alien

RPM is the RPM Package Manager (formerly the Red Hat Package Manager) that is used mainly by Red Hat-based distributions such as Fedora, Mandriva and SuSE. Many programs that are only available in RPM format, not DEB format, can be converted with a program called Alien.

Autopackage Edit

Autopackage is a distribution-neutral packaging system that works quite well with Debian. It is like the InstallShield system on Windows because it uses a 'wizard' interface. To install an autopackage:

  • Download the Autopackage .package file from the program's website
  • Open a console window
  • Change directories into the place where your package is saved
  • Simply run 'bash <package>.package' and you will see an interactive wizard to install with.
  • You may have problems with dependencies. Use the advice on the dependencies page to help solve them.

Compiling from source Edit

See: Compiling a program from source

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