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Instructions for Installing Software in Debian Linux

Updated on April 29, 2013
Installing Software on Debian Linux
Installing Software on Debian Linux | Source

Debian Linux is one of the oldest distributions of Linux still being used and updated today. It is designed as open source and so proprietary packages are slightly harder to come by such as Adobe Flash. Debian makes it more difficult to access those packages, but luckily it’s not particularly difficult with the following steps.

After using Windows for most of my life, the switch to Linux opened up so many more options and doors. I was no longer confined to doing one single thing, and because Linux is free, I can change the distro at any point at the drop of the hat. As more and more users switch from Windows, Linux distributions are being increasingly supported by the community, due to the influx of users. In fact, this article was written on a Google Chromebook, with Chrome OS, which is in itself based upon Gentoo Linux. The telephone I keep looking at has a version of Linux installed on it as well, Android. The computing world is no longer just Windows vs Mac, Linux is now a major contender which is set to steal away some of that market share.

Installing Software with Debian Linux

It’s really easy to install software with Debian Linux. If you want to install proprietary software, you just need to take one extra step and modify your /etc/apt/sources.list file to include:

deb testing main contrib non-free

(modification of that file can be done by typing in: sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list)

[Don’t forget to save]

Debian Linux sources list example
Debian Linux sources list example | Source

Debian Linux is extremely easy to use, and has one of the largest software repositories of any Linux based system. There are over 30,000 packages at your disposal. So the first thing you need to do is figure out what you need. Figuring out what you need may seem harmful, but it can be the most difficult part of the process. The best way to start off is to search within the Debian repositories themselves. Point your browser at

Once you are on the site, you will notice that you can search for a package you want through a keyword search, or even search the repository in your particular version alphabetically. Alternatively, you can perform a Google search for a program in debian (i.e. debian music player). After you’ve discovered the package name you wish to install, open up a terminal window. Then all you need to do is perform the following two commands:

sudo apt-get update

[this is to make sure your system has the up-to-date package locations at the repository.]

Debian Linux: update your list of packages in the repositories
Debian Linux: update your list of packages in the repositories | Source

sudo apt-get install PackageName

[replace PackageName with the name of the software you want]


Installing the package in Debian Linux
Installing the package in Debian Linux | Source

Linux Pocket Guide on Amazon

If you are looking for additional information for using Linux, one book that I’ve found that helped me get off the ground is the Linux Pocket Guide by Daniel J. Barrett. It outlines the basics of how to use Linux at a fundamental level for beginners.

Another great source for using Linux are the multitudes of forums, how-to websites and both online and meatspace based magazines. Linux is more of a hands-on operating system, but because of that it becomes a much more logical interface than Windows.

Do you prefer Linux over Windows?

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    • TheKatsMeow profile image

      TheKatsMeow 4 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for commenting @mythbuster! Glad I could help out :)

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 4 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      I've been using Ubuntu for a while but just started testing live distros. This little tutorial has helped me understand how to use the terminal better for when I move away from Ubuntu's "window-like" appearance. Thanks for sharing.