I am running on Ubuntu 11.10 32 bit, and I am wondering what packages of software I should download; namely, RPM, DEB, or TAR GZ. I have encountered having to choose from this list while trying to download avast! internet security and Adobe Flash Player.

6 Answers 6


Ubuntu (like Debian, on which Ubuntu is based) uses .deb packages. HOWEVER, I don't recommend downloading packages and installing them outside of the Software Center if you can help it. Ubuntu Linux is different from Windows or Mac in that regard. You can use the Ubuntu Software Center to search for and install packages, or command line tools like apt-cache and apt-get if you're feeling geeky.

For example, to get the Adobe Flash Player, simply install it via the Ubuntu Software Center. You could additionally install Ubuntu Restricted Extras, which will install other common proprietary media formats like MP3 as well.

As for Avast, it doesn't seem to be in the repositories, but perhaps you could find a suitable alternative such as ClamAV. Also, remember Anti-Virus protection isn't generally needed on a Linux system in the same way it is needed on a Windows system. I run Clam on Linux file and email servers simply to keep viruses from getting passed on to Windows machines that may connect.

Hope some of this helps you.


Ubuntu 11.10 and other Debian based distributions work best with DEB files. Usually TAR.GZ files contain the source code of the program, so you would have to compile the program yourself. RPM files are mainly used in Fedora/Red Hat based distributions.

Though it is possible to convert RPM packages to DEB ones.

Note, make sure you download the correct architecture package for your system. i386 usually means 32-bit OS, x86_64 usually means a 64-bit OS.


First always check Ubuntu Software Center. Flash is available for Ubuntu. If you really really need to newest version you need a deb. Only need to remember that there are 32 and 64 architecture versions.

Regarding avast: if you want it to scan for virri and you only use Ubuntu... forget about it. At the moment the only thing you can use it for is for scanning incomming and outgoing traffic to and from Windows machines inside your network. Avast is not in the repositories so if you really believe you need this download.

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    +1 for promoting the "First always check Ubuntu Software Center" policy. It is a best-practice no-brainer until you are more familiar with Ubuntu/Linux in general
    – MestreLion
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 22:03

DEB file will be the best for you. It's binary version and very easy to install (By Just double click). It will automatically resolve dependency if have any. If you fail to find deb file then you should download tar.gz which is source-code version (not compiled). General way to compile and install tar.gz version is following

1. Extract the tar.gz file
2. Open terminal the and : cd your_file_directory/Extracted_directory
3. ./configure
4. make
5. sudo make install

The process differ from source to source. Most of the source follow this way. To make sure the process read the READ-ME file provided by the developer(in extracted directory)

First, try to find your packages in software center which is default installed with ubuntu.

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    Never ever use sudo make. Root privileges is only needed to install, not build.
    – MestreLion
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 21:58
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    Also, installing apps via source is generally a bad idea in Ubuntu: you may miss menu entries, icons, and many other desktop and system integration. For standalone, command-line only software this may be OK, but if a .DEB is not available, an unexperienced user should think twice about going the tar.gz route
    – MestreLion
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 22:00
  • If you do find a package that is only available in a tarball (name.tar.gz), it's a good idea to install it using checkinstall. It will keep a record of the install and allow you to easily uninstall it later. See: asic-linux.com.mx/~izto/checkinstall . It should be available in your package manager.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 22:02

The other answers here are largely right. You should look in the package manager first, and failing that, use a .deb file. .deb is the default package type for Debian-based systems like Ubuntu, and it'll install all the files in the right place, and you shouldn't have any problems (unless the package is out of date). Note that .deb files built for different Debian-based distros are slightly different, but will usually work. The only problem you may face is if certain required libraries aren't available, or are called different things. If that happens, your best bet is to ask here or on other ubuntu forums about how to deal with that specific problem.

If .deb files aren't available, you can use .rpm files on a debian-based system. The most reliable way is to use the alien package, which is available in the package manager. This basically converts the .rpm file to a .deb, making sure to use all the correct file paths, and then (optionally) installs it. You can simply run:

sudo alien --install /path/to/package.rpm

If you're feeling adventurous, you can compile from source using a .tar.gz. This method is quite often prone to annoying failures, such as missing libraries, but will generally work if you're persistent and are using up-to-date sources. If you plan to go down this route though, you may as well learn how to use git or what ever other version control system the software you want uses (assuming it's open source), so that you can get the most up-to-date version, with any bug-fixes (although this opens you up to newly-introduced bugs as well).


i think linux don't need to have antivirus, because when you want to install software, your OS inform you and want to get admin password from you, linux just need backup! you can convert .rpm onto .deb, but not recommended and you can convert .run onto .deb ... by this action you can download any thing you want

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    Don't just say "you can convert...", say how to do it. At least mention the tools needed so the user can google for it.
    – MestreLion
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 22:06
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    Also, converting from .run and .rpm to .deb is a little too advanced for a user that is asking about Flash and Avast. And suggesting that you "can download anything you want" is a very bad practice in Ubuntu. It can encourage newcomers to run any flawed script he finds out there and end up messing his system way beyond his skills to fix it.
    – MestreLion
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 22:08

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