I'm (kind of) new on ubuntu and I'm having a heck of a time figuring out how to download executables. For example, I tried to download Eclipse and a Java environment this morning. On my Windows XP PC, this would have worked fine, I would have double clicked on the download and the executable would have opened. However, on Ubuntu, when I do that I get a .tar folder and, even by extracting it, I don't see where it gets me.

Could anyone help ? Thanks a lot !

  • What tar is it? – Frederik Spang Mar 27 '13 at 8:04
  • Well extract tar, open terminal, move to extracted directory, and see what you have there, using ls -la, look you may find executable file. For example if its eclipse just run in terminal ./eclipse – hingev Mar 27 '13 at 8:06
  • It says it's a tar.gz. I'm not too sure about how terminal works, but I'll try and find a good tutorial on the web. But isn't there any other way than executing the terminal every time I want to open it? Supposing I want to do some programming for example. Isn't there some way of having it in the dock or on the desktop? That would be more practical than executing through the terminal ! – Thomas Cunningham Mar 27 '13 at 8:21
  • @ThomasCunningham for that you must make an .desktop file, and pin it to dock or unity or any launcher. – hingev Mar 27 '13 at 8:55
  • the 'apt-get install' advice is generally good - or you can use the Ubuntu Software Center, which is the GUI equivalent. However, specifically for eclipse, there are some arguments to downloading the .tar.gz file and using it instead - there is some discussion of this and how to do it here: help.ubuntu.com/community/EclipseIDE and askubuntu.com/questions/26632/how-to-install-eclipse – Warren Mar 27 '13 at 14:26

I had the same confusion when moving from Windows. "Where's the installer executable to download and install?" I would ask.

In Ubuntu you've got a few other options, mainly the Software Centre (graphical) or a command-line installer like apt-get. I like apt-get. Once you get used to it (and trust it), it is so much easier.

On the command-line, try this:

sudo apt-get install eclipse

Enter password, confirm the download (because it's ~200Mb), and it will get and install the application for you.

If you don't have an executable in your system, typing the name in the command-line will often give you useful suggestions of what packages to download. So if you're looking for javac, say, entering it will give you a number of package target names that contain the javac program.

When you want specific versions of applications, things get a little more involved. If you can track down the .deb file you want, Ubuntu will recognise it as such and bring up the Software Centre installer screen if you double-click on it. If you have a tar file as you mentioned above, generally you extract it and then run an executable contained within it. But with tar files you may run into library compatibility issues.

  • All right, that helps a lot! Thanks for the great answer Ash ! – Thomas Cunningham Mar 27 '13 at 8:50
  • 2
    No problem. I always think that when I was starting out with Linux, someone should have sat me down and said, "Forget that way of installing, embrace apt-get, it will solve a problem you didn't know you had". Good luck with your codin'. – Ash Mar 27 '13 at 9:15
tar xvzf packagename.tar.gz 



make install
  • I think, the complicated stuff should be left for more advanced users. Beginners usually don't want and don't need to compile from source. Also, your answer lacks a lot of important information, for instance that software installed that way often can not be uninstalled, at least not easily (check out checkinstall for that purpose), or that there are usually options that should be passed to configure (always, I repeat, always run ./configure --help first). – soulsource Mar 27 '13 at 13:44

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