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I am new to Ubuntu. How is installing software from a repository different from downloading the .deb file from a website and installing through the package manager?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

All the other answers are correct, you get:

  • Auto Updates
  • Dependencies

But most importantly, you get reliability. Repositories systems in place to make sure that the software you download will work on your computer. In windows when you want to install an application to fix a problem, you have to trust not only the website that's hosting it, but all the computers in between.

With key signing, you can be sure that you are installing software that the developers intended for you to install.

That just leaves the issues to you, to make sure that you chose good developers.

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Thank you, so repositories (1) keep software updated, (2) ensures that you have dependencies, (3) are reliable due to key signing. –  David Faux Feb 6 '12 at 14:08
    
Exactly. Though to be specific, the tool (apt-get) handles updates and dependences. The repository itself is just the location you can go to download. –  isaaclw Feb 6 '12 at 15:23
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Downloading from a repo with apt-get install will also make sure all of the dependencies are installed.

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Simply, when you install an application from a .deb file, you won't get package updates like you do when you install from a repository.

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The repository will keep you sofware up-to-date and install the dependencies as well. The .deb file don't do that, but it is portable.

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