In this article, we are going to cover the available options for installing software on Ubuntu. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with an arsenal of tools for installing the exact software you want on your Ubuntu server! We will be installing three different software packages from source, deb, and flatpack.
Typically, the Ubuntu OS ships with an excellent package management system called APT. Apt-get, or the more recent apt command, are the interfaces users would typically utilize to search for, download, and install packages.
What happens when you need to install something on your Ubuntu server, but the software package isn’t available for installing via apt?
What if you need to build a software package from source to access the newest features from the latest version of that package?
How do I locate the dependencies for the software I need?
We will answer those questions below!
- This tutorial assumes you have root access to your Ubuntu server and are logged in as the root user.
- The steps in this tutorial were executed from a Liquid Web Unmanaged Ubuntu 18.04 LTS server.
How Do I Locate The Software Dependencies?
In order to locate the software dependencies. we will need to search for the software package in packages.ubuntu.com. Click the link and review the information there to get started.
In the above interface, type in the package name in the keyword field, select the Ubuntu distribution and then the Section from which the software may be located. You will have four options for the Sections dropdown:
Let’s start our search for git in the “Distribution” Cosmic and “Section” Main repository:
Next, click on Search to locate the results of the research. The results page will open listing Exact hits and Other hits. In this case, we have an exact match in the main repository as well as four other references under Other hits.
Next, click on the link in the Exact hits section:
cosmic (18.10) (vcs): fast, scalable, distributed revision control system
1:2.19.1-1ubuntu1.1 [security]: amd64 i386
1:2.19.1-1ubuntu1 [ports]: arm64 armhf ppc64el s390x
This would take us to the additional dependencies packages page related to the git software. The next section identifies whether the software is required, recommends, suggests, or enhances the software in some way:
So, we can now see the required dependencies identified by the red dot next to the package names. This lets us know that we need to install those packages in order for git to work correctly.
Install Software From Source
In the following summary, we will be installing the git versioning software system based on the information we located above.
Step 1: Get The Server Ready
As a best practice, make sure your packages are up to date:
apt-get update -y
Next, you’ll need to make sure you have a compiler available. Run this command to install build-essential:
apt-get install build-essential -y
Step 2: Download Dependencies
When installing a package from source code, you’ll need to manage the installation of the package dependencies. We’ll use apt-get to install git’s dependencies:
apt install build-essential dh-autoreconf libcurl4-gnutls-dev libexpat1-dev gettext libz-dev libssl-dev -y
Step 3: Download The Source Package
Once the package dependencies are in place, it’s time to download the package with wget:
Next, we need to extract the archive and cd (change directories) into the new git directory:
tar -xvzf v2.23.0.tar.gz cd git-2.23.0/
Step 4: Install Git
Now that we have our package extracted and ready to go, we need to configure it:
You should see an output similar to this:
GIT_VERSION = 2.23.0 GEN configure
Next, let’s verify that all of the dependencies necessary to build the package are available by running this command:
After that, we’ll build the source code:
Now that the binaries are all built, its time to install git:
That’s it! The last thing to do is to verify that git is working:
The output should look something like this:
git version 2.23.0
The short version of the commands above for reference:
wget file tar -xvzf file cd into folder ./configure && make && make install
Install Software From A .deb File
In this scenario, we will be installing ‘jq’ from a deb file. Jq is a lightweight and flexible command-line JSON processor.
Step 1: Download the deb File
The first thing we need to do is get the .deb file to install. In this example, we will be grabbing the exceedingly useful JSON parsing utility jq:
Step 2: Install Dependencies
Much like our previous install of a package from source, it may be necessary to install dependencies ahead of actually installing a package via a .deb file. The dependencies for this version of jq can be found here:
apt-get install libjq1 libc6 -y
Step 3: Install the package
Now that our dependencies are squared away, we can install the package with dpkg. Under the hood, apt-get and apt, use dpkg to install packages:
dpkg -i jq_1.5+dfsg-2_amd64.deb
Great! Now all that is left to do is verify jq is installed:
dpkg -i jq_1.5+dfsg-2_amd64.deb
The output should be as follows:
Installing Software From A Personal Package Archive (PPA):
The Personal Package Archive or PPA is a proprietary repository for developers to provide versions of their software packages in a specific storage medium.
This scenario allows for installing software that may not be available in the official Ubuntu package repositories. In the next section, we will be installing flatpack itself and then use it to install Cowsay.
The Cowsay program is familiar to many but for those who may not know, Cowsay creates an ASCII picture of a cow stating a specific message you add:
cowsay hello there _____________ < hello there > ------------- ^__^ (oo)_______ (__) )/ ||----w | || ||
Step 1: Setup The PPA Archive
First, we need to add the PPA as a source for apt. Later, we are going to walk through installing packages on the command line with Flatpak, so we are going to take this opportunity to install Flatpak via the official FlatPak PPA:
add-apt-repository ppa:alexlarsson/flatpak -y
Next, we will update apt, so it is aware of the package repository we’ve added, by updating it:
apt-get update -y
Step 2: Install Flatpak
Now that the PPA is set up, we can install Flatpak:
apt-get install flatpak -y
Let’s verify Flatpak is installed by checking the version:
flatpak --version Flatpak 1.4.3
Installing Software With Flatpak
Flatpak is another package management tool, not unlike Snap. It encapsulates the dependencies of a given application and makes them installable across most Linux distributions. Flatpak is used to install desktop Linux applications. It offers a command-line interface to install applications which is what we will cover here.
Add a Flatpak Remote Repository
Like all other package management systems, Flatpak requires a reference to a repository of packages in order to be able to download packages for installation. Run this command to add the Flathub repository:
flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
Locate an Application And Install It
All that’s left to do is find an app and install it. First to search for an app run this command:
flatpak search Cowsay Name Cowsay Description Cowsay, a state of the art Cowsay generator using GNOME conventions Application ID org.gnome.gitlab.Cowsay 1.7.1 Version Branch Remotes stable flathub (broken down into a more readable format)
To install it, run this command:
flatpak install Cowsay -y Looking for matches… Required runtime for org.gnome.gitlab.Cowsay/x86_64/stable (runtime/org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.34) found in remote flathub org.gnome.gitlab.Cowsay permissions: ipc network wayland x11 ID Arch Branch Remote Download 1.  org.gnome.Platform x86_64 3.34 flathub 207.8 MB / 318.4 MB 2. [ ] org.gnome.Platform.Locale x86_64 3.34 flathub < 322.7 MB (partial) 3. [ ] org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default x86_64 19.08 flathub < 90.8 MB 4. [ ] org.freedesktop.Platform.openh264 x86_64 19.08 flathub < 593.4 kB 5. [ ] org.gnome.gitlab.Cowsay x86_64 stable flathub < 56.3 kB Installing 1/5… ███████████████▊ 79% 3.2 MB/s 00:17 Installation complete.
And that’s it! We have installed software from source, a deb file, and then installing a program using flatpack.
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