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Installing Software on Fedora

Linux has a reputation for being difficult to install software applications to. In my experience, that reputation is not true - it's not DIFFICULT to install software applications on Linux, it's PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to install software applications on Linux. Let's compare the process of installing software on Linux to that of Windows.

With windows, you execute the applications setup program (by double-clicking on setup.exe) and, 99 percent of the time, the application will install succesfully. Sure, older versions of Windows had the problem of letting the setup program overwrite newer DLLs with older DLLs (commonly referred to as DLL hell), but that was fixed with Windows XP. A Windows application setup program almost always contains all the software components required for the program.

Compare that to installing software on Linux. Linux software applications come in "packages" that almost never contain all the software components required for the program. The Linux community has developed several "package managers". like yum and synaptic, that are supposed to search internet repositories and gather all the components required for the program. In reality they work more like automated complaint generators.

One reason Windows experiences more problems with viruses than Linux is because with a click of the mouse any software application can be installed on Windows, whereas with Linux it's practically impossible to install software applications. When I say "practically impossible", I mean the average desktop user is not going to struggle with the Linux software installation process, they'll just go back to using Windows. I think this one of the main reasons why Linux has made no progress in replacing Windows on the desktop.

It wasn't long ago that Linux software was distributed as "tarballs". A tarball is a compressed archive created with the Linux tar command. A tarball file has the file extension .tar or .tar.z, or .tgz or something else. To extract the program, you would use the Linux uncompress command with a string of options like -xZvf Once you extracted the file, you usually ended up with source code that you were expected to compile. After compiling the source code - that's were the real complications began!

To be fair, a great portion of the Linux community are developers and tarballs might be a good way for developers to cooperate, but often users who are experimenting with Linux get caught up in this nightmare.

Software Availability

Everyone assumes there is much more software available for Windows than for Linux. In fact there's about the same amount of software available for both operating systems. However, the amount of FREE software available for Linux is much greater than for Windows. Free Windows programs are often "beta" stage applications released free for the public to find bugs. After the bugs are fixed, a pay version of the applications is released.

Since Linux itself is free, the Open source and GPL (General Public License) communities have focused more on developing applications for the Linux operating system. With powerful applications like gimp (Image Processing Program), Openoffice (Office Suite), MySQL (Database), and Apache (Web Server) available for Linux, it can do anything windows can do. Because Linux is the preferred operating system at major universities and research facilities, you will find many free science applications available for Linux.

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