Acquiring software

Taking into account that the operating system is just the platform on which you are going to do everything you need to do with your computer, you will also need the software which will help you make those things come true.

Understand software as a single word for a large sets of instructions the computer will need to carry out the tasks we will ask it to do. Software comes in applications. Applications are composed of a variety of programs, and they are usually stored in a folder on the system hard disk. Some of those programs are the information the user generates, which are usually called user files.

Installing software for Windows users

Windows users usually carry out three steps to install a new application. The first one is to find the application's installer file, usually called setup.exe. The second step is to run it, usually double-clicking its icon. The third is to choose among a few options and wait for the installer to do the rest. Once the installation is complete, it is OK to get rid of the installer file.

Installing software under Windows is fairly straightforward, so you shouldn't have problems. My advice is to read all the options you have and making your own decisions when installing anything. Leaving the default options is usually not a good idea.

Windows installers are usually an .exe (executable) file. They also come as .zip (zipped packages) files. If the latter, you will need to unpack or unzip the software before finding the installer program.

In all cases, I repeat, it is safe to delete the installer program once the installation has completed as they are using up temporary files space anyways. If you paid for the software, then it's wise to keep a copy of the installer.

Installing software in a Mac computer

Mac/Apple users usually go through the same procedure, but with different names. Most Mac software comes in .zip, .sit (Stuffit) or .dmg (disk image) files. When dealing with zip or .sit files, you will need to unpack first and install next. .dmg files are like disks, so you will need to mount them as if they were a pendrive or CD before installing.

Likewise, once the application is installed, it is OK to just trash the installer files or images.

Installing software under Linux

Under Linux, its software doesn't use installers but package managers. Linux shares the packages among all the applications that need them, so routines will actually install the ones they lack. This is an advantage when Linux is compared to the others.

As Linux has many different distributions, there are two possibilities to acquire software under it. The first one is to use the operating system's package manager to download and install the requested software and its dependencies (the packages it needs to work) from the repositories. The other is to compile the source code yourself.

To download and install packages, each distribution will have its own command. Ubuntu, for example, uses apt-get.

# apt-get install package

...yet they would require updating, doing that with the command...

# apt-get update

Some distributions have presented this in a graphical menu, which will handle these commands for you. OpenSuse calls this the Yast.

The availability of one-line commands to install software usually allows to update everything with one command too. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most convenient things about being a Linux user. Mandriva users, for example, use a command which reads: urpmi --auto-update.

Installing from source has usually 5 easy steps:

+ Unpack the source files (this depends on the format they came in)
+ configure (usually ./configure)
+ compile (usually make)
+ install (usually make install)
+ and clean (usually make clean)

To be 100% certain look for the source readme or install files, or refer to your community's distribution.


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Knowledge + Computers