the apt system is (at least in my opinion) the most elegant and well executed software management solution to date. with ubuntu linux, there are well over 14,000 packages in the official repositories at this point. all you need to do to install a piece of software is issue the command “sudo apt-get install (package)” and the package is installed along with all of its dependencies; no hunting for libraries, no fighting with version conflicts, no compiling from source… it’s wonderful.
what’s even more wonderful is that it’s so easy to keep your software up to date. on a windows system, when a new version of a program is released, the best case scenario is that the program itself will retrieve the update for you from the manufacturer’s website. worst case scenario, you’ll have to go to the website and manually download the update and pretty much repeat the installation process all over again. staying up to date with apt is as easy as typing “sudo apt-get update” followed by “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade” those two commands will automatically update every library and installed piece of software on your system to the latest stable versions. beautiful.
but the system is not without its flaws. if you were taking a look at the 3 screenshots i posted yesterday, you might have a few questions. what if i don’t know the exact name of the package i want to install? what if i want to upgrade certain packages and not others? what then? well, that’s why aptitude was created. aptitude is a robust interface for apt that allows you to search packages, read detailed descriptions of each of them, mark or unmark certain packages for installation, removal or upgrade. it’s fantastic. here, have a look at it:
but yet people still complained. “i don’t like using the command line,” they said. “how is my mom supposed to use this,” they asked. “why can’t we just point and click?” so we were given synaptic. synaptic is a GTK based, graphical front end for apt, and that is what we are talking about today. have a look at its interface before we get started:
it’s pretty straight forward. on the left hand side we have different software categories listed. on the right hand side are packages that match whatever category we have selected in the left hand pane. across the top are some pretty standard looking buttons and menus and along the bottom is a status bar (which tells us there are 17,802 packages available!). anyway, today we’re going to go through process of installing blender, just as we did yesterday. i set this one up a little differently… for some steps there will be two screenshots, to represent a before and after for each step, hopefully to help you understand exactly what’s happening. let’s get started.