Newbie to linux and a question

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Sat Dec 15 12:25:46 UTC 2018

Okay, I'm not sure how to help a newbie get started, but one thing I
think worth mentioning given the most recent message:

Manually downloading, compiling, and installing application software
on a Linux machine is something even experienced users typically have
little reason to do on a daily basis. This is because most modern
distributions come with a built-in package manager that will,
instructed to install a given piece of software, automate the process
of downloading a precompiled for that distro package of the
application, packages for all its dependencies, and installing those
precompiled packages.

Sadly, package management is one of those things that differs from
distro-to-distro, though distros that are closely related often share
the same package manager(e.g. Debian, Ubuntu, Knoppix, and most other
distros derived from Debian or one of its derivatives all use apt as
their package management system and offer a few standard frontends).

Plus, many "newbie friendly" distros err on  the side of including as
many different packages in their default installation as can be
compressed to fit on the install media.

I'm really only familiar with debian derivatives and the apt package
manager, but some of the most important commands are:
sudo apt-get update
To refresh the package lists.
sudo apt-get upgrade
To install all available upgrades for installed packages.
sudo apt-get install [packagename]
To install the named package along with all its dependencies.

sudo aptitude
will laucnh a console frontend for apt called aptitude which provides
many useful features such as:
A tiered list of all available packages divided first by install
status(upgradeable, installed, not installed, obsolete or locally
installed), section(Admin, editors, libs, net, utilities, among
several dozen others), and license(differs on distro, but Debian
itself uses main for free software, contrib for non-free software that
meets some criteria I'm not entirely sure about, and non-free for all
other non-free software), and then alphabetically by package name.
pressing enter on a package name brings up lots of information on that
package, such as description, maintainer, size, dependencies, and
available versions.
many keyboard shortcuts for quickly marking a highlighted package for
Built-in serach(useful for finding a package when you don't know its exact name.
Easy to read preview of pending actions prior to them being applied.
powerful conflict resolution capabilities.

And synaptic provides many of the same features in a gui application.

Oh, and if you really need to download and install something manually
because it isn't available through apt, Debian and its derivatives use
.deb packages, which can be installed by running:
sudo dpkg -i nameofpackage.deb

And as Debian and its derivatives are among the most widely used
distros, many devs will include .deb packages on their download pages.
Note: you're also likely to see .rpm packages, which are packages for
the Redhat Package Manager, used by Redhat Enterprise Linux, Fedora,
and their derivatives, and .tar.gz or .tar.bz2, which are compressed
tarballs, which usually contain a copy of a program's source code.
.rpm packages can be installed on Debian-derived systems, but this
requires the use of alien to handle the foreign package format and is
generally not recommended, and compiling from source generally isn't
needed unless you're part of active development.

I hope you find this information useful.


Jeffery Wright
Bachelor of Computer Science
President Emeritus, Nu Nu Chapter, Phi Theta Kappa.

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