I have to confess that delegating software installation to Debian and Ubuntu’s apt command is what finally converted me to Linux. I stillhave a bias against .rpms and building from source based on disastrous experiences hunting down obscure .rpms or figuring out why make would not work. If you’re trying out Ubuntu or another Linux distribution, you should stop and read download squad’s Package management 101.
Package management refers to the way your distribution installs and configures (as well as manages and removes) software applications and libraries on your system. When Windows installs an .exe (which is the closest thing in Windows to a package) it usually places it in a single specific place within a directory. Linux installs across a few directories, leaving many new Linux users scratching their heads as to where their .rpm actually went. Most distributions install the executables in /usr/bin, and the libraries in /usr/lib. You may notice related files in /usr/share or /etc.
In short, you’ll want to let your package manager install and upgrade new software for you. You don’t have to take my word for it, Thank You, Aptitude!
I’ve long believed that the easiest way to install software on a modern operating system is through a well-designed package manager connected to one or more carefully-maintained package repositories.