Pint-Size PPA Primer

Package management in Linux is great, but unfortunately, it comes with a few cons. Granted, most distributions keep all your software, not just system software like Apple and Microsoft, updated. The downside is that software packages aren't always the latest versions. Whatever is in the repository is what you get. Another frustration is when the software you want to install isn't in the distribution repositories at all.

Usually, it's possible to add software packages, even if they're not in the repos. For Red Hat-based systems, those are RPM files. For Debian-based, they're DEBs. Unfortunately, installing applications that way doesn't give you upgrades when they're available; you need to keep them updated yourself. Most package management systems also have the ability to add third-party repos, but those don't always have the packages you want.

Canonical has a feature in newer versions of Ubuntu that allow the best of both worlds. They're called PPAs (Personal Package Archives). Instead of distributing .deb files, developers simply can distribute their PPAs. With a PPA, the software is updated automatically along with being installed in the first place. While installing PPAs hopefully will become simpler, in the short term, they're still pretty easy to install. You just need to find the right PPA structure, usually given by the developers that support the idea. For example, to install the Mozilla Daily Build PPA, simply type:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa

Someday, installing a third-party application will be as easy in Linux as it is in Windows and Macintosh. With ideas like PPA repositories, however, your software will stay updated. And, that sounds P-P-Perfect to me.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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add-apt-repository is

Anonymous's picture

add-apt-repository is actually the correct command as apt-add-repository is just a link to the former...

Super PPA

Super PPA's picture

Ubuntu should make a Super PPA witch collects all the PPA's to one huge main repository.

Usually the case is that you need to have PPA for each application and thats not good. So - some extension to tis would be a Super PPA. Single PPA witch collects all in one repository url.

Shawn, you must not have

Josiah's picture

Shawn, you must not have installed software on windows lately. Installing a .deb downloaded off the Internet is still loads easier and quicker than doing a typical windows software install and even some Mac software installs. It isn't much harder than a mac install. Perhaps that'll shift with the whole App Market concept getting more popular on Mac. I haven't used that.

Overall, I'd certainly give Linux the easier average software installation of the three.

Aw nuts. I was hoping this

Mozai's picture

Aw nuts. I was hoping this would be a primer on how to make my own PPA, not how to use one.

And this is why I use Pinguy

Anonymous's picture

And this is why I use Pinguy OS, the ultimate, as in the best, of what Linux has to offer.

another good site

John Haynes's picture

This one is pretty good as well

Linux installation and package management

Package management

John Haynes's picture

Have you seen this website on package management

Linux approach to package management