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In Windows, software is just installed centrally in /programs but in Ubuntu its usually stored in the users local directory. When I install programs via add/remove they appear for my other user accounts as well which is great.

But I have downloaded an application that's been wrapped in a tar file. It doesn't need to be compiled, just needs a home and a launcher. When I installed it in my user account it worked fine but its only visible to me. Where should I install it so it's useable by all users?

The software in question is not available in the repositories.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

but in Ubuntu its usually stored in the users local directory.

Hmm. This isn't really true (or I misunderstood what you meant). Usually programs are installed using Ubuntu's package management system (deb packages), and they are available system-wide for all users. This is by far the preferred method of installing software.

When (on rare occasions) installing something outside the package management system, I tend to use /usr/local/programs, and create specific subfolders there for different programs. Often, I'll also put a symlink (or simple startup script) under /usr/local/bin to make it easier to launch these applications. Of course, /opt or any other location would do just as well, as long as you make sure all users can access the files and directories (as Bobby pointed out).

If you want such programs to appear in the start menu of your desktop environment, you'll need to take care of it yourself. E.g. this shows how to add entries (for one user?), assuming you use Gnome. I'm sure there's a way to add it for all users, but off the top of my head I'm not sure how; maybe others can help you there.

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What application? Please check if it isn't available through an external repository. Otherwise, copy it into the /opt folder and use chmod and chown to allow everyone to use it.

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