CIT 050 Index > Installing Software

Installing Software on Linux

These notes are tailored to Ubuntu. Other distributions of Linux have their own way of doing installation. We’ll talk about those in lesser detail. In all systems, you have to either be the superuser or be a user who has the capacity to do superuser-type actions.

The Ubuntu Way

Ubuntu uses the dpkg (Debian Package) management system. Each software package has all its files bundled up into a dpkg files that tells where it should reside, what files need to change when it is installed (such as menus in GNOME or KDE), and, most important, the package’s dependencies–what other packages must be installed along with the one you are interested in.

Ubuntu keeps repositories, which are servers that contain the latest version of all the packages, and they get downloaded when you need them.

Installing via GUI

From the System/Administration menu, choose Synaptic Package Manager. Once it starts, you may wish to choose Repositories from the Settings menu so you can see how all of this is set up. Changes that you make to the repositories are reflected in the file /etc/apt/sources.list

You can select packages by their category (at the left panel), or you may search for specific keywords. Use the search menu to search for chess programs:

search dialog box with 'chess' entered

From the resulting list, right-click 3dchess and then left-click the Mark menu item to mark it for installation.

list of matches with 3dchess chosen, marked for install

When you do this, the package manager realizes that there is a dependency and tells you about it and lets you mark those for installation as well.

list of additional package(s) needed

Once that is done, click the Apply button, and the package will be installed.

In Mandriva Linux, you can get to the GUI package installation by choosing Install & Remove Software from the main KDE menu, or by typing rpmdrake from the command line.

From the Command Line

Exit from Synaptic now (if you don’t, this next step will give you an error message telling you that the package management database is locked or in use by another program).

If you know the name of the package you want, you can install from from the command line by typing:

sudo apt-get install packagename

Try installing the tuxeyes package with this command:

sudo apt-get install tuxeyes

In Mandriva, the command is

sudo urpmi packagename

From the Command Line (part 2)

What if you just have a package file (with a .deb extension) that someone has sent you or you have just downloaded? Then you can use the dpkg command.

Download this raw package file from the server: xeji_1.2-11ubuntu1_i386.deb

Use the dpkg command to see the contents of the package:

dpkg --contents xeji_1.2-11ubuntu1_i386.deb

Then install it:

dpkg --install xeji_1.2-11ubuntu1_i386.deb

For Mandriva, the package format is RPM (stands for Red Hat Package Manager, so Red Hat and Fedora Linux both use this format as well). Download xeyes-1.0.1-7mdv2010.0.i586.rpm and use these commands:

# see package contents
rpm -qilp xeyes-1.0.1-7mdv2010.0.i586.rpm
# install
rpm -ivh xeyes-1.0.1-7mdv2010.0.i586.rpm

Installing from Source–Not for the Faint of Heart

Download zsnes.tar.gz from the server. It is a SuperNintendo emulator for Linux. Unpack it to your home directory, and then unpack the source:

tar -xvzf zsnes.tar.gz
cd zsnes
tar -xvjf zsnes151src.tar.bz2

Do a cd zsnes_1_51/docs and then ls. In the normal Linux/UNIX packaging world, there should always be a README file. IfWhen you read file README.LINUX you will find that you need to install the development libraries for SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer); do this by going to Synaptic and installing libsdl1.2-dev

Now cd ../src; ls This is a standard Linux/UNIX source packaging scheme; there’s a file named configure. This file will test to see that you have everything needed to build the package. Run it by typing:


It will give some messages, and then halt with an error:

configure: error: You need NASM installed to compile ZSNES

You can install NASM (the Netwide Assembler) from Synaptic, or install it from the command line:

sudo apt-get install nasm # Ubuntu
sudo urpmi nasm # Mandriva

Now when you type ./configure again, you should have everything needed to do the build. If you don’t, then use Synaptic to download the appropriate files. For example, if it says you are missing zlib, go to Synaptic and do a search for zlib. You will find that zlib1g is installed, but just below it is the zlib1g-dev package. The dev means that this package contains the files necessary to develop other programs (which is what you are doing).

You may also need to install libpng12-dev and libncurses5-dev.

Once you get through ./configure without errors, you will find a file named Makefile that contains the instructions needed to compile and install the software.

From the command line, type:


and just watch as the messages scroll by. Normally, I like to divert the messages to a file so that I can keep a record in case something goes wrong:

make 1>makelog.txt 2>&1

This builds the files. If you look at the directory, you will see that there is now an executable file named zsnes; if you type ./zsnes it should run. Some packages won’t run properly until they are installed in their appropriate destination folder, but this one will, so try it now.

You may then install the software to its destination by typing the following. Since the install puts files into system-access folders, you need to be the superuser to make this work:

sudo make install

That’s all there is to it. You should then be able to execute the program by just typing zsnes.