Which program can install .tar files in Ubuntu?

Joshua Clarke April 26, 2011

Is there a GUI program out there that will install programs downloaded from the web (.tar, tar.gz, .deb) without using the command line?

  1. Roy
    April 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    It sounds like you might be somewhat new to Ubuntu (no offense intended if I'm wrong!!), but jhpot hit the nail on the head. One thing I learned when I was relatively new to Ubuntu was to google search the name of the program I wanted to install along with "deb" to try and find an easily installable package. Might be worth a try.

    • Joshua Clarke
      April 27, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      Yes, I am VERY new to Ubuntu. So you're saying that .deb files are kind of like the .exe files in the Linux world, simply double click and it installs?

      • Roy
        April 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

        Well, it's not quite as simple as that, but the comparison sort of works. I'll try to explain the difference...at least to the extent that I understand it!

        .exe files run on their own in Windows, and execute a whole batch of commands including copying of files, writing of registry entries, sometimes even installation of drivers, etc.

        A .deb file, on the other hand, is not so much a self-executing file. Instead, it's a file type that is associated with a specific application - much like a .doc file is associated with MS Word. It's associated with a Package Manger application, which unpacks it and and installs your software.

        Other Linux distros can also use different file types, such as .rpm files, which originated with the Red Hat distro if I remember correctly. That's because they use a different package manager, but it essentially does the same thing. Last I checked, .rpm packages were also used in Mandriva Linux.

        If I haven't already confused you enough, here is my final push to make sure you end up scratching your head ;) The .tar files are basically the source code of the program that has not been packaged up for any particular package manager to handle.

        What program are you actually trying to install?

  2. jhpot
    April 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    First of all: I really, really advise against installing programs you find around the web in Ubuntu. It's not secure, and you probably won't get updates for the package. First check out the Ubuntu Software Center; most everything is there. If that doesn't work, try to find a PPA (//www.makeuseof.com/tag/ubuntu-ppa-technology-explained/).

    Only if you can't do either of these things should you install a deb or tar file you find online. Deb files are easy; just double-click them and the Ubuntu Software Center will take you through the process of installing the package.

    TAR files usually contain source code, which you need to compile. On the geek scale, compiling software is pretty freaking geeky, and there's no consistent GUI way to do it. People have offered them in the past, but the failure rate is really, really high. Basically: if you have to install a tar file you're going to have to learn your way around the command line.

    Here are some directions to get you started:

    Sorry this can't be easier; what program are you trying to install?

    April 27, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Have you tried using synaptic package manager? Here is a link for you:


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