[nmglug] Learning about options for installing programs, help please

Don Crowder donguitar at gmail.com
Thu Dec 3 13:22:52 PST 2020

Semantics can be an obstacle. I opened Synaptic after reading your post and
searched for "clip art".  I got a lot of results, none of which appeared to
be clip art but when I tried again, searching instead for "clipart", I got
specific and usable results.  When I'm looking for an application for a
specific purpose I don't normally begin with Synaptic.  I begin with
google. Of course if you google "free clipart for LibreOffice" you'll need
to pack a lunch because it'll take a while to screen the results. It's a
bit of a mixed blessing. :) Of course if I were a total novice wanting to
make a fancy poster and searched "Poster software for Linux", I'd get
fairly useful results. In either case, the answer you get is only as good
as the question you ask. My point is simply that if you can't get an answer
to your question, consider rephrasing the question. :)

On Thu, Dec 3, 2020 at 1:57 PM Ted Pomeroy <ted.pome at gmail.com> wrote:

> NMGLUGers, I use both 'apt' on cli and Synaptic(GUI) for installing
> packages. If I know the package name and how it fits into my system the cli
> is quicker and direct. I have usually reviewed the repositories in
> /etc/apt/sources.list; and have a sense of the differences between them.
> However, if I am in doubt or do not know the package name, but do know what
> area I need to have function more I use Synaptic and rely on its Search
> function and the brief descriptions of each package. A recent instance of
> this was a search for Libreoffice clipart that is free and compatible with
> my sources.list. While there is a vast amount of free and non-free clipart
> in the wider world, in Synaptic I could count on not getting caught up in
> ambiguous copyright or hidden hooks or incompatibilities. It is a trivial
> example I am sure, but gives an example of how the GUI aids me when I am
> short on other knowledge.
> I hope to see a few of us tonight at our Virtual meeting. Thank you, Ted P.
> On Tue, Dec 1, 2020 at 11:01 AM Akkana Peck <akkana at shallowsky.com> wrote:
>> LeRoy Diener writes:
>> > For example, one way to install a program is from apt.
>> > What does that mean? Is it related to typing in the CLI something like
>> sudo
>> > apt install ... ? Is it related to the etc/apt folder? What are the
>> apt is a program, used to install software on Debian-derived systems.
>> (You can verify that by typing which apt; which will show that apt is
>> /usr/bin/apt).
>> You can run it to install packages (apt install), to update the
>> system (apt update && apt upgrade or dist-upgrade), and for
>> various other functions.
>> apt originally stands for "Advanced Package Tool", and it's also
>> used as a general name for the way Debian packages software,
>> and all the programs that support it (in addition to apt, there are
>> lots of helpers like apt-cache, aptitude, apt-file, dpkg, synaptic
>> and on and on). You can read more about the general use on Wikipedia:
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/APT_(software)
>> Some of those programs build in extra stuff: e.g. aptitude has
>> nicer searching than apt-cache and different dependency management
>> from /usr/bin/apt, while synaptic has a GUI for people who aren't
>> comfortable running in the command line. But even if you use some
>> of these tools, e.g. Ubuntu's package manager GUI, you're still
>> "using apt" underneath.
>> > pros/cons?
>> If I'm on a Debian system, I always install software using apt
>> unless there's a good reason not to. That way, when I update my
>> system, I automatically get updates for every apt-installed package.
>> Some reasons that would lead me to install a program some other
>> way than apt:
>> - not available in apt, either because it's proprietary (e.g. Zoom)
>>   or because nobody has packaged it
>> - the version in the distro I'm running is too old, and I need
>>   features or bugfixes that come with a more recent version
>> - I plan to contribute to the package, so I need the cutting
>>   edge version built from source
>> > Another way to install is into home bin.
>> > What does that mean? Is it related to the home/bin folder?
>> You can, optionally, create a directory named "bin" inside your
>> home directory -- so you could refer to it as ~/bin, $HOME/bin,
>> or /home/your-user-name/bin -- and add it to your PATH, the
>> environment variable that controls where the system looks for
>> executable programs.
>> In my ~/bin, I mostly put programs I wrote myself, and a few
>> scripts I downloaded from a trusted source. It isn't somewhere
>> I typically install downloaded software packages.
>> > Where are the programs coming from if installed using apt or not from
>> apt.
>> When you install using apt, the programs are almost always coming
>> from your Linux distro's repositories for the version of the distro
>> you're running (e.g. Ubuntu 20.04, Debian Wheezy). You can choose to
>> add additional repositories outside the distro, but that's fairly
>> unusual and something you have to do deliberately. For instance,
>> some people make PPAs ("Personal Package Archive") for Ubuntu to
>> distribute newer versions of certain programs than the ones Debian
>> distributes.
>> > How safe are programs from outside the repository? Which places are
>> safer
>> > than others?
>> Programs from outside the repository are only as safe as the place
>> you're getting them. For instance, if I download firefox from
>> mozilla.org, I figure that's pretty safe; if mozilla.org got
>> compromised it would be all over the news and I'd hear about it.
>> But if someone on an IRC channel says "Hey, there's a great program
>> you can download from harrysprograms.com", that's obviously not
>> safe. You have to use your own judgement and common sense when
>> downloading out-of-distro packages.
>> Some sources can be misleading. For instance, Python programs can be
>> installed using pip, perl programs using cpan, ruby programs using
>> gems; you would think these should be safe because they're coming
>> from the organization behind Python or Perl or Ruby, but they're not
>> really, because anyone can upload programs to those systems. That's
>> also true of the AUR system in Arch Linux. So again, you have to use
>> common sense: is it a program a lot of people seem to use and trust?
>> Has it been around for a long time?
>> > Does it make a difference which folder on my hard drive where the
>> programs
>> > are installed to?
>> No. If you're running it, you're running it, regardless of where it
>> lives on your file system.
>>         ...Akkana
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