[Nottingham] BT Broadband / Linux

Iain Moppett Iain.Moppett at nottingham.ac.uk
Tue Mar 21 09:37:23 GMT 2006

At the risk of information overload, does this help? Installation from a source-code tarball

If what I downloaded from the net is a Linux source code in the form of a compressed tarball (*.tar.gz or *.tgz), the installation procedure is longer and more troublesome than with the binary-only rpm. I typically install the program as root.

First, I change my current working directory to /usr/local:

cd /usr/local

Second, I decompress the tarball that I downloaded from the Internet:

tar -xvzf /home/the_dir_where_the_tarball_is/my_tarball.tar.gz

This extracts (option "x") the contents of the *.tar.gz (or *.tgz) tarball, unzips it (option "z"), while talking to me more than usual (option "v" = verbose). Please note that the option "f" means "file", so the filename must immediately follow the letter "f". The contents of the tarball are extracted into a subdirectory which tar creates under my current working directory, which in the typical case is /usr/local/ . The tarball knows what the new subdirectory should be called.

If the tarball is not compressed (e.g., *.tar), I may use:

tar -xvf /home/the_dir_where_the_tarball_is/my_tarball.tar

Third, I have to figure how the new directory is called, then I cd into it:


cd the_new_program_subdir

Since some of the directories have long names, I use the great autocompletion option to save on typing--I just type the first few letters and then press <TAB> .

Fourth, most programs are compiled by executing these three commands:



make install

The above commands can take some time to complete (1 min? 0.5 h?). If any of them fail, it might be an idea to read the README or INSTALL or whatever info is provided with the new program. Some programs may require customization of the environment (e.g. definition of their path) or installation of an additional library, or yet something else. It can sometimes be a pain. Very simple programs might not need the "./configure" or/and "make install" step, in which case "make" alone will do.

Fifth, if everything goes well, I find the new executable which I just compiled. The names of executables display in green when running this command:

ls --color

Now, I can run the executable, for example:


Some programs automatically install the executable to /usr/local/bin, so I may want to try:


Sixth, if I plan to run the program more often, I create a symbolic link to the executable from the directory /usr/local/bin :

cd /usr/local/bin

ln -s /usr/local/the_new_program_subdir/the_executable

This way, the executable (actually, a symbolic link to it) is on my PATH and it can be run by simply typing its name (no need to type the full path to the executable any more). Some programs will install the executable (or a link to it) in a "bin" directory in which case you skip the last step.

Cut from this website:  http://linux-newbie.sunsite.dk/html/lnag.html

>>> incandescant at gmail.com 03/21/06 5:42 am >>>
On Tue, 2006-03-21 at 00:41 +0000, Ebrahim Makda wrote:
> untarring is like unzipping on windows.
> The downloaded source file , will be called something like  blahblah.tar.gz
> you need to type the command :-
> tar -zxvf blahblah.tar.gz
> to 'unzip'  and 'untar' the source.

Or just use the GUI? <Gasp>

On Gnome you can right click the file and select "Extract Here" or "Open
with Archive Manager" for control of what to extract and where to.
KDE has a similar mechanism, I believe.


Joshua Lock <incandescant at googlemail.com>

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