Building Software Packages for Linux: Getting Started

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You have downloaded or otherwise retrieved a software package. Most likely it is archived (tarred) and compressed (gzipped), in .tar.gz or .tgz form. It must first be copied to a working directory. Then it is necessary to untar and gunzip it. The appropriate command is tar xzvf filename, where filename is the name of the software file, of course. The de-archiving process will usually install the appropriate files in subdirectories it will create. Note that if the package name has a .Z suffix, it will require uncompress PACKAGENAME, then tar xvf PACKAGENAME rather than the above procedure.

Sometimes the archived file must be untarred and installed from the user’s home directory, or perhaps in a certain other directory, according to the package’s config info. Should you get an error message attempting to untar it, this may be the cause. Read the package docs (especially the README and/or Install files, if present) and edit the config files and/or Makefiles and Imake files, as necessary, consistent with the installation instructions. Some software packages permit automating this process by running make install to emplace the binaries in the appropriate system areas.

You are now ready to proceed to the build stage of the process.

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