Let's say you are a moderately experienced Linux user, and you want to install an application off the Internet but it doesn't have a nice package that works on your system.
A lot of users, even quite experienced ones, have issues with going from the tarball to the installed program because they just do not know the fairly easy steps required to get the job done. But it's only easy if you already know how to do it! So, here's a quick instructable about how to install stuff from developer sites.

Tarball def: Tarballs are a large collection of files assembled into a single archive file. The "tar" command is used to combine many files into a single file for archiving or easy distribution. The "gzip" command is used to compress the size of a file so that it takes up less space. A tarball is very similar to a .zip file on Windows, or a .hqx, .sit, or .dmg file on Macs.
Tarballs have extensions like ".tar.gz", ".tar.bz2" or "TGZ". Most of the time, a tarball contains source files and/or binary files. In the open source community, they are used to distribute source code. If you find any software with a .tar.gz appendix, you will need to uncompress it by double clicking on it before installing the software it contains. To do the same thing from a terminal window, you can also use the tar command like this:
tar -xzf name_of_file
Source files are nothing but raw code which requires compilation to work, while binary files are like .exe files which are ready to install.

Step 1: Step 1: Prep your system for building packages

By default, Ubuntu does not come with the tools required. You need to install the package build-essential for making the package and checkinstall for putting it into your package manager. These can be found on the install CD or in the repositories, searching in Synaptic Package Manager or the command-line apt-get:

sudo apt-get install build-essential checkinstall

And since you may want to get code from some projects with no released version, you should install appropriate version management software.

sudo apt-get install cvs subversion git-core mercurial

You should then build a common directory for yourself where you'll be building these packages. We recommend creating /usr/local/src, but really you can put it anywhere you want. Make sure this directory is writable by your primary user account, by running

sudo chown $USER /usr/local/src

and, just to be safe

sudo chmod u+rwx /usr/local/src

After you've done this, you're set up to start getting the programs you need.
<p>How would I go about compiling a source tarball that doesn't have a configure or a Makefile (because there are some packages that newer than what my distribution's repos have that don't have a configure script or a Makefile).</p>

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Bio: I cook, I program and I play Halo
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