Installing new, quirky apps under Linux

First off, you need to go through a bit of a cultural shift. When you’re looking for/at quirky, little apps; you should be for the Linux version.Secondly, installing and maintaining all your apps under Linux tends to be easier than under Windows. Yes, I said easier. In Windows, you find application “XYZ” on a website. You download a ZIP file and extract it to find an EXE. You run the EXE and it installs, but the program doesn’t run. Why? You’re missing something. It might be Microsoft’s .NET, Java, DirectX, etc…. Only it’s highly unlikely XYZ will tell you in plain English what went wrong. More likely, the app will just die without reporting an error. Then you’re off to Google to figure out what went wrong. Or if XYZ will run, it has no way of knowing when a new version is available or at best it can check their website for updates and when one comes out; you have to download, unzip and install the new version of XYZ (possibly uninstalling the old version first). Since you’re used to this, it doesn’t seem like much but it’s actually a complex operation.

Now let’s compare that to installing/maintaining apps under Linux (specifically Ubuntu). First off, you should enable the extra repositories and after doing so you suddenly have thousands of apps you can install with a few clicks in Synaptic. With the added bonus of Ubuntu automatically checking for updates to every single one you install and then enabling you to update all of them with a couple of clicks. And if some app you want to install requires other packages, then Synaptic will download and install those for you automatically. For the occassional app that is not include in the extra repositories, many 3rd party developers who work on Linux will provide their own repositories which you can add to your sources.list in Synaptic, which gives you all the same benefits as apps in the official repositories. True, there are still other 3rd party developers who don’t provide repositories but for some of these there are sites like Get Deb which offer pre-compiled DEB files for you to use in installing a given app. DEB files serve the same purpose as the installation EXE you download for Windows apps. Lastly, there are those developers where all they provide is the source code. For these, you can generally find detailed instructions on how to compile the app to use it. Though, I’ve been using Linux full-time for about 5 years now and I’ve yet to find a must-have app which was only provided in source code form that I had to compile.

In reply to More Linux at Desperados Under the Eaves.

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