Why is installing software so awkward?

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Why is installing software so awkward?

Postby Pete » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:28 am

HI, I've been using Ubuntu on my laptop for a couple of years now and have really enjoyed it. Sadly I now find I would like to try software not available in the software centre and have found a whole lot of ways to install software that isn't always clear or simple. I know many distros want to take a chunk of the market from windows (which is a good thing - I mostly run windows on my desktop for running games and would love for those games to work just as well on linux).

I suppose my question at this point is why can't we have a graphical solution a bit like windows? You know, download a package, click on it and let it get on with installing. I tried Synaptic a while back and got nowhere. Is this something thats likly to be addressed?

Many thanks in advance,

Pete
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Postby heiowge » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:34 am

The strength you see in windows is also it's weakness. The ease of installing software from just about anywhere invites malware galore.

That said, a lot of software that isn't on the software centre, already has a method of fast install like the .exe files you see on windows. It has .deb (that you can use since Ubuntu is Debian based), or .rpm (for distros like Red Hat, Fedora etc - don't use these if you use Ubuntu).

These contain all the installer info you need. Ones that are source only just mean that no-one has made a .deb or .rpm for you, but they can still be installed. It just takes a little more effort.
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Re: Why is installing software so awkward?

Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:28 pm

Pete wrote: I know many distros want to take a chunk of the market from windows (which is a good thing - I mostly run windows on my desktop for running games and would love for those games to work just as well on linux).

I suppose my question at this point is why can't we have a graphical solution a bit like windows? You know, download a package, click on it and let it get on with installing. I tried Synaptic a while back and got nowhere. Is this something thats likly to be addressed?

Many thanks in advance,

Pete


You make a common mistake, Distros are not in a "market" at all, unless you count ones that charge for support. Yes distros might like more people to use them, but they are not the complete picture.
Apps are exclude from repositories for many reasons, here are some:
1. proprietary, i.e. closed source, or relies on closed source packages that are unavailable for distribution.
2. Incompatible with other software that is in the repositories
3. Beta quality (and yes some people will say that is also true of some stuff in the repos ) :P
4. unsupported, abandoned or obsoleted
5. Illegal

There have been many attempts to make "one-click" install packages, downloading a .deb file and clicking on it will ask you if you want to install it. Some use scripts that need to be made executable first, but that is a security issue.

Some packages, like MythTV consist of hundreds of different parts, all programmed by different people, and apt-get or tasksel will often download, install and configure them with the minimum of fuss, from one simple command.
(installing MythTV-backend on my headless Ubuntu server took twice as long as installing the OS, but from one command!).

I install software every day as part of my job, so I realise that Windows has it's own issues too, don't get me started about about .net, VB and SQLexpress. :evil:
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Postby johnhudson » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:58 pm

It isn't in my experience., Virtually all the software I use is available through one-click install which takes a fraction of the time it takes the same Windows package to install.

Of the very few packages I have had to install from source, all have done so without any problems or have told me which missing dependences I needed to satisfy. They have also installed more quickly than it takes Windows to initialise the installation.

If you need easy installation, there are Linux distros that can meet your need.
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Postby guy » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:36 pm

I do sympathise, and I have similar issues.
OK, synaptic rightly puts barriers in the way of downloading anything and everything. But if I finally track down what I want somewhere off-planet, say a printer driver on the website of the manufacturer's software associate, why can't I simply override those barriers with a mouse-click or two? At the moment I have to teach myself rocket science then build a sub-orbital sounder just to get my printer working.
The cognoscenti scoff that I am lucky I don't need to refine my own aluminium ore and build a full moon rocket, which actually would make me much happier. Humbug!
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Postby Pete » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:21 pm

Hey guys, thanks for the help. What are the distros that support one click install? Might be worth me looking. I understand about the malware risk but I'm not (I don't think) sugesting that the computer chooses what to download, just a simple piont and click install experience for the mainstream user. That said I have made a new friend quite away from the internet who has a linux set up similar to what I am trying to create and he has emailes me some handy stuff too. Keep up the good work, no doubt I'll be back next time I have a question or problem to solve.

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Postby Ram » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:21 pm

What software are you trying to install by the way?

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Postby Pete » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:38 pm

It was XBMC, but it looks like theres an OS where it runs as a front end anyway, but I had also noticed the same issue for other software previously where an expert would open up with "All you do is..." where I think the majority of people, myself included just want to press a button and let the computer do the hard work. It will be at least a few days before I'm ready to try the new aproach to my media centre but with a dedicated OS it might well solve my problem. I did try Mythbuntu but that just wasn't very pretty LOL
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:46 pm

Pete wrote:It was XBMC, but it looks like theres an OS where it runs as a front end anyway, but I had also noticed the same issue for other software previously where an expert would open up with "All you do is..." where I think the majority of people, myself included just want to press a button and let the computer do the hard work.

trouble with that is you don't always know who put that button there.
It will be at least a few days before I'm ready to try the new aproach to my media centre but with a dedicated OS it might well solve my problem. I did try Mythbuntu but that just wasn't very pretty LOL

Mythbuntu has themes, and some of them are very pretty, the default is fairly basic, but that is because it is designed to run on the most hardware.
If you don't have a TV card, though, XBMC is probably a better bet.Image
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Postby Pete » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:24 pm

Yeah lots of people have said that, and I saw it on a mates xbox and was impressed. As to the who put the button there point, who tells you to go type certain lines of text into terminal to get certain software working? At some point surely there is a trust unless you want to compile the code from the start?

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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:34 pm

Pete wrote:Yeah lots of people have said that, and I saw it on a mates xbox and was impressed. As to the who put the button there point, who tells you to go type certain lines of text into terminal to get certain software working? At some point surely there is a trust unless you want to compile the code from the start?

Pete

The thing is, the windows button allows someone else to install software, whatever.
The Linux repository system offers tested, trusted and signed apps, installable with one click.
Once you leave the repos, you are using 3rd party packages, and some are signed, but not all.The more work you have to do, the less likely it is that the software is stable and safe.
Always there is a trust issue, but most Linux downloads offer MD5 checksums, and you have to give your permission before they are installed.
I have lost track of the number of "free" windows packages I have had to extract from Windows PCs, along with the trialware, malware and trojans attached.

EDIT: At least when I look at a line of commands, I vaguely understand what they do.
If you don't, don't use them.
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Postby Pete » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:01 pm

Fair point, but I think my original point still holds people away from Linux operating systems that might otherwise happily use them. Whats MD5 checksum?
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:09 pm

Pete wrote:Fair point, but I think my original point still holds people away from Linux operating systems that might otherwise happily use them. Whats MD5 checksum?


an MD5 checksum is a sort of signature that confirms the original file is unaltered.

Most Linux OSes offer repositories containing all the software that a user might need, along with a guarantee of compatibility and security.

Windows has one current version, Linux has thousands.
There is no guarantee that software compiled for RedHat will work with Ubuntu, for example.

So, if you leave the offered software repos, you must be aware that you are wandering into less safe territory.

If your chosen Distro does not support it, there is a reason.
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:18 pm

Another issue is that XBMC might rely on Codecs or files that are not freely distributable without payment.
i.e., free distros are legally forbidden to distribute them.
Windows includes codecs that MS have licensed.
This covers MP3, MP4, DVD, and others.
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Postby nelz » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:10 pm

Pete wrote:Fair point, but I think my original point still holds people away from Linux operating systems that might otherwise happily use them. Whats MD5 checksum?


It verifies that a file has not been altered or corrupted, but that's not necessary for a user to understand. A package manager deals with this stuff, as well as making sure that all software comes from trusted sources. All you need to do it pick what you want and press the install button, which is what you want, isn't it?

Package managers do more than that, they also keep track of security and feature updates, saving you the trouble of checking with home pages or needing each program to phone home to check for updates.
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