How to Install Software on a Linux Server

Installing software on a Linux dedicated server depends on several factors.  Namely:

  • The Linux distribution you are using
  • The package availability of the software you want to install
  • The source of the software.

Linux distributions use package management systems to make installation of software easy.  In most cases, these distributions have online repositories that allow you to quickly and easily install binary packages or automatically compile the packages from source.  For example, Red Hat based distributions use RPM packages and a package management tool called YUM.  Debian based distributions use DEB packages and a package management tool called APT.  Gentoo uses a system called Portage (similar to BSD’s Ports) to compile packages from source.

If you get packages from your distribution’s online repository, they will always be in the correct format.  If, however, you get the software from a third party, there are a variety of possible ways in which you may receive them.

  1. The packages may still be available in your distribution’s file format via a third-party repository or for download.
  2. The software may have an installer that will automatically put the binaries on your system.
  3. The software may only be available in source code form, in which case you will need to compile from source.

To compile from source, you usually only need to run a few commands:

make install

This may vary according to the software you are trying to install.  Look for a text file labeled INSTALL for instructions.  You will mostly likely need to install dependencies, which your package manager would normally take care of automatically.  Once you have your software installed, regardless of which method you used, it should function the same as it normally would.

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