Living with Linux: Installing Apps


(Detail of Adept, the KDE package manager. Click here or on the image above to see the entire window…)

Upon my first successful install of Ubuntu my first task was to get the Flash Player working in Firefox—those YouTube videos don’t play themselves, ya know!

I was a little dismayed to find the following instructions at

sudo apt-get install flashplayer-mozilla

My biggest fear of Linux was staring me right in the face—that I wouldn’t be able to do much without hammering out a bunch of command-line instructions in a terminal window. How could this be, when everything else on my KDE Desktop seemed so user-friendly?

Thankfully, a little poking around revealed a program called Adept. This “package manager” performs three critical tasks for a Linux installation:

  1. It keeps track of all the software installed on your system;
  2. It connects directly to repositories of downloadable applications and upgrades;
  3. It will install those apps and upgrades keeping in mind the stuff you’ve already got.

I used Adept to get my system software up to date and to install the default Kubuntu games package. It’s not quite as convenient as a Mac or Windows automatic software updater, but it does give the user more control over the process.

Now you can still go out into the wild and download whatever you like off the web, but unlike Mac or Windows it is most certainly not a drag and drop affair. As an example I tried to install the new Linux version of Google’s Picasa. I downloaded a package with a clickable Debian installer, but opening it brought up an error that a critical system component was missing.

My only other choice was to go back to the command-line, as per Google’s instructions:

If that doesn’t work, save the file in the /tmp directory, then open a terminal window and install with a command like

$ sudo dpkg -i /tmp/picasa_2.2.2820-5_i386.deb


$ su

# dpkg -i /tmp/picasa_2.2.2820-5_i386.deb

# exit

… And that didn’t work either.

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