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I am relatively new to Linux, I am using Xubuntu 10.04.

A lot of the software I download from the net, e.g. Aptana/Eclipse are just ZIP files that I open and run.

  1. I wish them to be in a specific folder where I can reach them from everywhere when I run "Eclipse".

  2. I want them to be available to all users.

  3. I want to be able to start them from the drop-down menu on the desktop.

How can I do that?

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

There is some kind of "Filesystem Hierarchy Standard":

The Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS) defines the main directories and their contents in Linux operating systems. For the most part, it is a formalization and extension of the traditional BSD filesystem hierarchy.

I would put that stuff to:

/opt/   Optional application software packages

Read yourself:

For the rest of your questions:

  1. That's a matter of having the path to the binary / script you want to launch in the PATH variable. According to you want to do this via /etc/environment. You could also create a 'symbolic link' to the binary or write a launch script which you then place into /usr/bin or /usr/local/bin.

  2. See 1.

  3. For that you have to create a .desktop file and install it (make an entry in the menu to it) via xdg-desktop-menu.

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+1. But if only I will use the software, why must I become root and install the software to /opt? Wouldn't it be wiser to install the software to somewhere underneath /home/unforgettableid instead? If you were me, which exact location would you choose? – unforgettableid Jun 3 '15 at 9:58
@unforgettableid: you can "place files" wherever you like. /opt/local is a convention. the same way you can "place files" wherever you like on MSFT-Windows or on MacOSX. you will break conventions. if that is not an issues to you: go ahead and place the files wherever you like. – akira Jun 3 '15 at 11:43

You should use your system's package manager to do installation whenever possible. The package will be automatically located in an appropriate place. On Xubuntu, it's aptitude/apt-get/synaptic/Ubuntu Software Center. See Adding, Removing and Updating Applications.

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Yes, true. But not all software is available via the package managers. – Aviv Nov 4 '10 at 12:55

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