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Migrating From Windows To Linux, Part 2: Installation

Installing Applications

People love Linux for its flexibility. If the program you want isn't included with your distribution, then simply find it, download it and install it. Downloading is easy enough, but installing is a different matter.

Installing programs on Linux is much different than installing programs on Windows. On Windows, you usually click on an .EXE file and keep clicking next until you are done. Generally the install files are self-contained, meaning that you don't need extra programs to help you along the way. The notable exception to this is the .NET framework that some programs require.

With Linux, it's much different. If the application isn't installed with your distribution, you must either install it as source code or by using a binary format. You are also required to download other programs/packages to make your program work. For example, the GTK+ Development package is required to compile many programs. If you didn't install it, you will be in big trouble later on.

As stated earlier, Linux software comes in two versions. The first is called binaries, and may be easier for the beginner. Binaries are similar the familiar .EXE in Windows. You run them and usually the program installs. Binaries usually have the ending of .RPM, which stands for Redhat Package Manager.

Source code is the second format in which Linux is distributed. Source code is composed of raw C++ in text files. The text can be viewed and changed. In essence, you get to see what is under the "hood of your car," as compared to Windows, where the hood is welded shut. Source code must be compiled, which turns the text into binary files. If you play with Linux long enough, you must get used to compiling source code, because some programs only come in source code. Don't worry as we have a downloadable training video that shows you how to compile. In no time, you will be a master compiler.

One gotcha that happens often when you compile a program is insufficient permission to access a folder or file. Becoming the root user, which is similar to the Administrator in Windows, usually solves this. From the command-line, you simply type su root and then ENTER. You will be prompted for the root password. When you are done with the installation, type exit and then ENTER. This will turn you back into a normal user.

If you simply must run your Windows programs, chances are you can make them work with WINE . WINE is a free Linux program that will trick Windows programs into thinking they are running inside of Windows and not Linux.

Download the Application Installation training video: