How to install software in Ubuntu and Linux Mint

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Installing applications in Ubuntu and Linux Mint


1. Ubuntu and Linux Mint have a number of applications preinstalled, such as Firefox, Libre Office and Transmission. This is a pretty complete package, but hey, this is Linux and we want to make our own choices. Fortunately there are tens of thousands(!) of applications and software packages at your disposal.

Perhaps you're accustomed to installing Windows applications by "simply" manually downloading the installer of an application that you fancy, from some website. In Ubuntu and Linux Mint this works differently and even easier. You don't download anything manually from a website anymore.

Instead, you install only from the software repositories ("software store") of Ubuntu or Mint itself. A lot easier, because you don't have to spend time searching. No more manual downloads!

The advantages: ease and security

2. The advantages of installing from the repositories are twofold: it's easy and it's secure. Not only is the software in the repositories safe, but all applications that you install from them, are being kept safe on your computer by the centralized update function.

The updates from Ubuntu and Linux Mint apply not only to Ubuntu/Linux Mint itself, but also to all software that has been installed from the repositories!

Three different ways of installing

3. There are three recommended ways to install an application: by the application Software (Ubuntu) or Software Manager (Linux Mint), by Synaptic Package Manager or by the terminal command sudo apt-get install.

Installing software is also possible by installing manually, like in Windows. This fourth way bypasses the inherent security of the repositories and is therefore discouraged.

The application Software (Ubuntu) and Software Manager (Linux Mint)

4. Using Software (Ubuntu) and Software Manager (Linux Mint) is easy:

Establish internet connection.

Linux Mint: Menu - Administration - Software Manager.

In the Search box, type the name of the application you want, for example inkscape if you want to install that fine vector based drawing application (useful for Christmas card design). Or a descriptive term, like vector

Press Enter.

Double-click on inkscape and  click the Install button.


Ubuntu: in the side panel, click on Software (the shopping bag).

In the Search box, type the name of the application you want, for example synaptic if you want to install the versatile lightweight installer Synaptic. Or a descriptive term, like installer.

The search begins automatically, don't press Enter.

Click on Synaptic Package Manager and click Install.


That's it! The new application will be downloaded and installed automatically. A menu item for it, will be added automatically as well.

Synaptic Package Manager

5. With Synaptic Package Manager you have more fine-tuned control over the software packages that are in the software repositories of Ubuntu and Linux Mint. More so than with Software or Software Manager.

Synaptic is not part of the default Ubuntu installation, but you can install it by means of Software. In Linux Mint it's present by default.

Synaptic also works with queries, much like you use Google. In order to use it, you need to establish internet connection first.

Synaptic can be used like this: for example, you're looking for a simple notepad that's even leaner than the simple text editor Gedit. You've heard of the application Leafpad, and you want to give it a try.

Launch Synaptic Package Manager.

Ubuntu: click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: synaptic.
Click on Synaptic Package Manager.

Press the Search button in the toolbar of Synaptic and type leafpad in the popup screen.

Press Search in the popup screen.

Synaptic will then present you with a number of software packages that have something to do with Leafpad. In most cases you simply choose the package with the most appropriate name, in this case leafpad.

Notice also the description of the package, which appears below when you click on a package.

Tick leafpad and press the button Apply in the toolbar.

Now Synaptic fetches Leafpad from the repositories of Ubuntu, along with the necessary supporting files, and installs it for you. A menu item will be added automatically.

Easy as can be!

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Avoid using it: manual installation

6. Manual installation, like in Windows, is also possible in Ubuntu and Linux Mint. But this is discouraged, because it bypasses the inherent security of the software repositories! Also you won't have the benefit of the centralized update function, for manually installed software.

For manual installation you'll need to download an installer with the extension .deb (from Debian: both Ubuntu and Linux Mint are based on Debian). Simply doubleclick it like you would a Windows installer (.exe) in Windows.

Installers with the extension .rpm (Red Hat Package Management) are useless in Ubuntu and Linux Mint: those are installers made for other kinds of Linux distributions that are rpm-based.

You can also manually install Linux software that has no installer at all (mostly .tar.gz packages). But that's usually an awful job and definitely not suitable for beginners.

Want more tips?

7. Do you want more tips and tweaks for Ubuntu and Linux Mint? There's a lot more of them on this website!
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