Linux Mint – Installing and Removing Software

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Linux Mint ships with just about everything the average person needs in order to be productive right away. By default, Mint includes a complete office suite, applications to listen to music files and watch movies, a web browser, the ability to burn CD/DVD media, and much more. But even though Mint is one of the most complete distributions around, the software it includes is by no means all there is available. Mint benefits from the Ubuntu package repositories, which feature tens of thousands of packages to install. Managing software on your local machine is the next step in mastering Linux Mint. In this chapter, we’ll explore the multitude of ways to obtain new software in Mint, as well as how to manage currently installed applications.

In this chapter, we will discuss the following topics:

  • Managing packages in Linux Mint
  • Using the Mint Software Manager
  • Installing new applications
  • Removing applications
  • Using the Synaptic Package Manager
  • Configuring software sources
  • Advanced package management
  • Keeping your system up to date

Managing packages in Linux Mint

A concept known as package management separates the method by which software is distributed in Linux versus other platforms. If you’ve used other environments such as Windows or Mac OS X, you may have become very familiar with their methods of installing new programs. With Windows, you typically download an executable installer (for example, .exe or .msi) and navigate through an installation routine known as a wizard. On Mac OS X, you can download installation images ( .dmg or .iso files) and install them into your Applications folder. Linux, on the other hand, uses packages that are downloaded from repositories.

What may be confusing to new users is the fact that not only is the method of obtaining new software very different in the Linux world, but also, each distribution has its own way of handling packages. In fact, a distribution’s method of package management is one of the biggest differences that sets each of the distributions apart from one another. For example, Debian-based distributions (Debian, Ubuntu, and so on) use DEB ( .deb) packages to distribute software. When it comes to Red-Hat-based systems (Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS, and so on), software are released in RPM ( .rpm) formats. Each package type has specific commands used to manage them. In Debian-based distributions, you’ll use the dpkg or apt commands, and with Fedora, you’ll use the rpm or yum commands.

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, so naturally, we’ll explore how to utilize DEB packages in this tutorial. However, don’t let the intricacies of Linux package management scare you off. There are several GUI tools available to help you manage installed applications, without forcing you to memorize the commands straight away. The best thing about graphical tools is that they take care of the command logic for you, as they are frontends to the underlying commands that the distribution uses in order to install packages. In this chapter, we’ll start off by using the GUI tools, and then proceed into the specifics. That way, you’ll learn the best of both worlds.

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