S. Donig my-mailfloods at
Thu May 12 09:13:54 UTC 2005

Hi Barry. 
> Hi.  I'm a windows user so please excuse the dumb questions.
No question is dumb. :) 
> How do I download a program (package) and load it?
Well there (at least) three major package formats for Linux: *.deb,
*.rpm and *.tgz or *.tar.gz . Ubuntu being a Debian-based system uses
*.deb as package format. For each exists another way to install as I'll
mention below. 
> I am using Synaptic Package Manager for getting packages.
That's a nice one. Do you know that you can add additional repositories
so that you get a greater choice of programs? On you'll find a guide on how
to do that. will also cover some other
aspects in depth you may be interested in, like installing software not
included in Ubuntu hoary. 
>  What I want to know is
> if I find a program on the internet, do I have to save it to a certain
> file area to UNZIP it and run the
> Synaptic program? 
If you mean: Can I download a package, copy it to certain place and it will be installed 
automatically: No. 
I can think of three scenarios dependent on what package you are to install.
Generally most software should be available via the graphical synaptics-interface. 
But there are packages (e.g. drivers for exotic hardware) which may be not available
through synaptics.
1) a *.deb-Archive which you found somewhere and have downloaded to your harddisk:
- open a terminal
- type: cd /path/to/the/file (e.g. /home/myHomeDirectory/)
- type: sudo dpkg -i ./nameOfThePackage.deb [sudo will grant you the right 
to install packages, type your userpassword in the password-prompt; -i says: install; 
./ means: from this directory]
- and if all dependencies are fulfilled, your package should install smoothly. If not, apt 
(which is the process behind synaptics) will either fetch the missing packages from the net
or will print out a error message you can post here for others may help you.

2) a *.rpm-package has to be converted to deb to be usable. Converting rpms should be your 
second choice, because a.) there is no way to control dependencies and b.) there might be 
differences within packages so that the newly installed package will overwrite a file from 
an Ubuntu package already installed. So you might want to make sure that all dependencies 
are (more or less) fulfilled before you install. You can do that for instance by having a look 
at rpm software-repositories like or
For converting such a package use alien.
- open a terminal
- type: alien [Return] and a list of possible options with alien will be displayed
- e.g. sudo alien -d /home/MyHomename/MyPackage.rpm will convert your package to a deb, 
then you can follow step 1) to install that deb.    

3) a *.tgz package. Contains either the source code or binary code of a program. Hence it 
is hard to say what to do without knowing which package you want to install. Generally speaking
you should extract it (right-click, choose: extract here) and go to the newly created folder.
There should be either a file called "make" or "install" which contains further information 
about that. If there is a certain package you want to install, you're always welcome to ask on
this list.  
> Do I have to use the text commands to open it? 
See above.
> Here is an example, I am a ham radio operator and there is a
> packetcluster program called CLX.
> I went to the site, downloaded it to my desktop, and there I stand.  How
> do I take that program,
> unzip it and install it?
If the tips provided above won't work, don't hesitate to ask again. Just 
provide some information on the package type and what you have done already.
> Sorry for taking up time and space here but I really do want to learn
> and this is REALLY foriegn
> to me.
You're always welcome.


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