I've been looking at some answers and comments and I see several different ways of writing an instruction to install a particular application.

There is of course command line apt which is somewhat standard. However, with the package names there are sometimes more specific version packages. For example, this question about Wine is answered with (in part):

sudo apt-get install wine1.2

According to the Ubuntu Software Centre on my computer, unless I've misunderstood something, this package is the beta release and the "wine" package is the regular one.

The same question I just referenced also describes using Synaptic, with the instruction to "install it from within Administration → Synaptic Package Manager", but "Administration" is not a top-level menu (presumably that would be "System" then "Administration").

Should references to something like Synaptic always include a path from a top-level menu?

Other questions, such as this one, reference the Ubuntu Software Centre. I haven't looked at all the questions that mention it but some just say "open the Ubuntu Software Centre" or "search the Ubuntu Software Centre" without giving a menu path.

What is the appropriate way to give a Software Centre instruction? And, should the Software Centre or Synaptic be preferred when giving GUI instructions, or does it matter?

Possibly related: this question about package managers has some good answers about the different methods of installing things on Ubuntu.

  • 1
    Also see the apt url discussion - that may well be the best solution - click on the apt link and it will open a package installer and offer to install the package. Aug 5 '10 at 19:35

I find it nice to provide both methods. Command line and if there is an equivalent GUI method to provide that. It helps bridge the gap of understanding between those who are new and coming from environments where everything was GUI based to the methods which hardened Linux fans have come to love and use: Command line. For now I'll continue to answer in both GUI and Command Line where applicable.

As for standards within each sect (Command line and GUI) I believe apt-get (vs aptitude) is a better more accepted verbiage - Though I believe it should go tasksel > apt-get > dpkg - IE if the question could be answered using tasksel it should (Rather than having 8-10 lines of apt-get), If not it should be answered with apt-get, and if it isn't available in apt-get then the instructions and link for the relevant .deb package and dpkg install command. Finally if it's only available by source a link to compiling it from source instructions, or brief instructions on how to compile from source should be provided with a link to the tarball.

For GUI I believe referencing Applications > Ubuntu Software Center should be the first route (IE Installing Geany, or other regularly available software package) If not the next course of action should be System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager

But really it's hard to say a definitive way - because each person has their own method for how they go about managing their installation. That's what I would propose though.

  • Like Hamish Downer, I say we try and push the apt url standard.
    – Erigami
    Aug 6 '10 at 21:03

It would be very difficult to enforce such a standard. An answer isn't automatically unhelpful just because the author forgot to include the top level of a menu path, or because he or she is using apt-get instead of aptitude (or whatever). If you see an answer that you think could be made clearer by making some small adjustment - go for it. I don't think there's a cookie cutter solution for every question.

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