What do you do when an application isn't packaged for your Linux distro?

Software isn't always born ready-to-install. A package maintainer does the work to make sure each release works with your Linux distribution.
265 readers like this
265 readers like this
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Opensource.com

Package managers make life so easy that many of us have forgotten what things were like in the olden days when getting a piece of software to work with your system was a real test of patience and endurance.

But even so, not every piece of software comes readily packaged for your distribution of choice. Maybe you're lucky and it's a single file binary (from a trusted, verifiable source only, we hope!). Maybe it's a .tar.gz file that you simply need to decompress. Perhaps it comes as a Flatpak or Snap file which will work across distributions. Or maybe you're going to end up compiling from source. May the dependency gods smile upon your efforts!

Whatever you decide to do, we hope it brings a little bit of appreciation for the hard work that the package maintainers who keep your Linux distribution do every day in order to make the consumption of software easier.

Every time you yum, dnf, zypper, apt, apt-get, or pacman, we hope you'll take a moment to be thankful for the tireless packagers, and maybe everyone once in a while, wish them a thank you.

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9 Comments

I must admit, in the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint (deb) universe, I'm surprised how seldom it happens. Usually, there're only a couple apps I need to install outside of the default repos, and for all but one or two, they're PPAs...

I am asking myself why did I decide to use Linux everytime I cannot find package.

Missing from the poll:
[X] Package it for myself, locally

Building from source is a skill that most should pick up, even if you rarely do it. This is part of the built-in power of Linux. Something else you get from building yourself can be quick fixes for problems you identify. For some projects, you may report a problem one day, and it's fixed a day to two later. Not only have you gotten around the problem, you've become part of the development team making the project better for everyone.

Absolutely! Being able to build software can teach every user to understand more deeply how it works. Quite often, a package is built in a generic fashion in order to service the wider user base. Subsequently, these builds might lack certain options or optimizations. A sysadmin or engineer should know how to build in order to optimize to their specific needs.

For rpm based distros (rhel, centos, fedora, etc)
1) Check for third party repos I would trust
2) Check COPR
3) Check flatpak
4) If it is not in any of these, question if there isnt something better. If it was really this useful, it's probably available in one of those.
5) If I still can't find anything better, or a different solution all together, compile from source.

I'm a new Linux Mint user. I had to install a driver that I could only find as an rpm. With advice from another forum, I used alien to make a deb package. Worked fine.

Even when it is available from my distribution, I sometimes want to go to sources. Most of the time this will include GNU Emacs.

Nearly every distribution compiles Emacs using scroll-bars from the GTK+/GNOME widget library, which makes them behave like scroll-bars on commercial desktops (Mac, Windows, etc.) I much prefer the old-school scroll-bars that are rarely seen today except attached to an xterm window. Emacs has a configure-time option for this - to use GTK+ widgets for everything other than scroll-bars. I always compile my own copies with this configuration.

As a long time Linux user (since '02) I've found that most of the time?...the default packages that come with my distro of choice (Fedora/OpenSuSE/CEntOS) are just fine. There may be one or two apps I like to install as a personal preference over the standard fare (VLC over "Totem" video player sometimes just called "Videos".....Clementine over RhythmBox or Banshee) but that's about it. Firefox is a must for me....along with Thunderbird. Once I have those two...(and the LibreOffice suite) then I'm ok....I've no need for all the shiny, fancy new stuff coming down the pike. So compiling isn't really something I feel the need to do (Not when I'm trying to crack my skull learning C++....Java...AND Python....along with studying incessantly for the RHCSA and the LIPC-Eng courses!) so I'm grateful that I have these apps in my repos or available from trusted places (like these:
https://rpmfind.net/linux/RPM/index.html
https://rpm.pbone.net
https://pkgs.org)

you'd be surprised how easy it can be to find what you're looking for...with the proper extension on it...whether it be .deb or .rpm! And although I have those other sites at my disposal?...I try to always search the repos of the distro I'm using first, just a personal preference. (I feel, that if someone went through all the trouble to place the package there?...I should at least make use of it!)

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