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Commands and references ( GNU / linux kernel 2.4.18-3 and 2.4.18-14 )   
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds

The commands with their most common usage are in brackets like this: [ command ].
Don't type the brackets, just what is inside of them.

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Installing a program on a Linux (or Unix) machine is usually quite easy if the person
who has put the install together has all the files correct (and they usualy do).
Generally you will need to be root to install a program so BE CAREFUL.
Most programs are tarred and gzipped or zipped (tar - tape archive)for convienent download,
so you will need to "unpack" them after they are downloaded. Be sure to check the reliability
of the site and file before you download or unzip anything. Caveat Emptor.
You can use unzip or gunzip first then do tar -xvf.

Here is an example:
Lets say you just downloaded a new game with the file name:   new_game.tar.gz
first you would type (in the directory where the new_game.tar.gz file is located)   [ gunzip new_game.tar.gz ]  
and hit enter (press return). This will unzip the file and it will become:   new_game.tar.
Now type (in that same directory) [ tar -xvf new_game.tar ]  .
This will unarchive the program and place all of its files in the proper directories in a new directory which the
tar program creates called   new_game ( the name of the file minus the .tar extension). CD to this directory
and look for files called README and INSTALL. In these files (text files) will be the installation instructions.
You will usually be instructed to type the following commands (waiting until each one has finished before typing the next):
[configure]   [ make ] and then, as root   [ make-install ]
(the configure command may need to be typed with ./ preceeding the actual command like this: [./configure] ;
this is how an executable file is run in unix or linux). These are scripts set up to complile
the program and place the resulting files and binary files in the proper directories.
On some machines, depending on the processor and amount of memory this can take a long time.
When the make-install is done, you should be able to run the program. There should be instructions in the README or INSTALL
on how to run the program. Most programs are run (or started) directly or indirectly from a binary executable file which
will usually be found in the /usr/bin directory, however this is not always the case; so be sure to carefully read
the README and INSTALL files.

This is a general guide. The overall idea is: programs are written in source code and combined with all of
the necessary files (which can be many header files and librarys, etc.) and then put into archives (tarred) and
zipped so they can be downloaded. After they are downloaded they need to be unarchived and compiled
(using the compiler on your system) and the resulting binary files put in the proper directories which is done
by script instructions in the installation procedure included. If you understand this procedure you can usually
figure out the installation process if it is not exactly what is described here. It would be helpful to try a few
simple programs in C and C++ on your system first to get the idea of how the compiler works. Writing a simple program
in C or C++ is not that difficult and most people who understand html, spreadsheets, and word processors can easily write
and compile some simple "hello world" programs in C or C++ with a couple of hours of reading. With Linux there is no
need to purchase expensive programming software - it is included as part of the system -   C, C++, Python, Perl,
Fortran77 are just a few that are free and come with Linux.

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