How Do You Install Linux Applications?

If you are a command line guru, you call upon your zypper, yum, conary or apt-get from the terminal, and you awk sed grep your way to what you’re after.

For me, unless I know exactly what package I want–and I often don’t–I typically turn to Synaptic, the graphical package manager that graces my Ubuntu notebook. Synaptic is a really nice application, and I’ve spent untold hours nerdily sifting through the massive software catalog that Ubuntu inherits from Debian.

There are six packages in the repositories that match a search for “Software Defined Radio.” They hail from the GNU Radio project, and it pleases me to know that when I finally get around to playing with SDR and GNU Radio, they’re waiting just a few clicks away.

I’ve also used Synaptic to resolve unasked questions, like when I tried to gauge the health of the java-gnome bindings project by searching for packages with a java-gnome dependency.

Like I said, nerdily.

I’ve mentioned favorably Ubuntu’s simpler Add/Remove Applications tool in reviews before, but I don’t usually use it myself, since I think of myself as a Power User.

It turns out, though, that the simpler tool launches faster and searches faster, too. I needed a color picker to help me come up with a color hex with which to customize a Web application. Just after I kicked off a search for “color picker” in Synaptic, I flipped over to the Add/Remove program, typed in the same search and still beat good old Synaptic.

So even us Power Users (circa Windows 2000) can learn to benefit from simpler tools–at least some of the time.

And happily, during the brief link hunt that I carried out to come up with the apt-get et al howto links from the first paragraph, I learned a couple new terminal tricks. I guess I’m off to play with apt-cache policy now, and inch imperceptibly toward command line gurudom. Nerdily.