I have just installed Ubuntu for the first time on PC, I have done some googling to get an idea about installing any application in Ubuntu but yet not clear about the proper procedure !!

Most of the time when I try to install any application. Example: Opera,

  1. I downloaded the Opera installable package from http://www.opera.com/.
  2. Ran the downloaded file but the installer hangs up.


  1. If I try to install any installation package from Ubuntu Software Center/Software Source.
  2. Initially, it starts downloading but takes too long to process and fails almost in middle of 100%.

Question: Is there any reliable, proper and easy step-by-step procedure?


The preferred way of installing an application under Ubuntu is via apt-get or aptitude, personally I use aptitude due to that I've had better experiences with it overall, but the decision between using apt-get or aptitude is entirely up to you.

Only Aptitude can search for applications though, so let's say you'd like to install Pidgin, you'd want search for it to get the exact name:

aptitude search pidgin

In this case, the package name is just pidgin, however, you'll see a lot of plugins and other stuff for Pidgin. To install Pidgin (or any of the other things seen here), you'd type:

sudo aptitude install pidgin

So, pidgin is just the exact name of the thing I wanted to install, I could take the name of anything else from the list, and it would install fine (except if it was already installed).

In other cases, the specific applications might not be available via aptitude, and then you have a few options to choose from usually:

  • Compile from source
  • Find .deb package
  • Adding the PPA
  • Binary installer

Many applications offers a .deb package, which is basically what an .exe is for Windows, just simpler. A .deb is a Debian software package, kind of a binary package for Debian based systems (such as Ubuntu) You simply double click it from Nautilus, and then you enter your password, and click "Install Package", extremely simple! However, note that using this method you might not be able to update it via aptitude later on, however, the application might have it's own update feature, but that's rare. It's always preferred to add the PPA, then the application can be updated via aptitude, more on that in a second!

Compiling from source is another option, which can require a little more effort, normally an INSTALL file would be available in the source, in which instructions would be present, such as dependencies for the install. If a specific application might have a dependency, you would normally install this by aptitude, just like showed above, however, it can be a real jungle when dependencies depends on other packages. Then for compiling, the usual procedure is:

sudo make install

It's rare you have to do this though, it's usually only when you want bleeding-edge software, or small open source projects to be compiled.

This way is usually preffered over the two others, you add the PPA (personal package archive) to your list of PPAs. For instance, Shutter has a PPA. You add the PPA to your software sources (for instructions, check the shutter guide, it's pretty good), and then you run:

sudo aptitude update

To update the software sources. And then you can simply install it by running:

sudo aptitude install shutter

There are probably a few other ways applications can be installed, usually if you download closed-source software, you would have a binary file (or .sh file), and then it's simply a matter of typing:


To start the application (or installation wizard).

Another thing is, sometimes you might end up with a .exe file which people say should run under Linux. Sometimes you can install it via Wine, in other cases you can run it via Mono (you might have to install Mono, do that via aptitude!):

mono file.exe
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  • 2
    Uh, apt-cache search pidgin. – user1686 Jan 25 '10 at 14:10
  • aptitude search and apt-cache search are both equally valid. – Broam Nov 15 '10 at 17:06

As far I can remember opera is not in the repository. It comes as a .deb package.

If that's true you could use the gdebi installer:

sudo gdebi opera.deb

The normal way is to use the Ubuntu repository. For example:

aptitude search jdk

this responds with something like

p   sun-java6-jdk         - Sun Java(TM) Development Kit (JDK) 6

now you know the exact name of the package and you can install it

sudo aptitude install sun-java6-jdk
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If you are using the default desktop environment (Gnome), and don't want to use CLI, try the Ubuntu software center, found in the applications menu. If you don't have the newest version, it will be named Add/Remove.

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For installing any application you will have some that require installation from sources. If this is the case, then you will need to do as the other posters have recommended to install a compiler (GCC) and then when you download and decompress the source folder, you will cd into that folder, then...

$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install
$ make clean

In general almost all programs that you will need to install in Linux will have sources available and as such will be the method that will work in the widest variety of circumstances. This will mean that your programs are compiled for your particular system and will run faster with smaller binaries. Plus you will better understand what your system is doing which is the Linux way of doing things...

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