Dusting Off the Archives - compiling software from scratch

Installing software on Linux, or any Unix system from the source code is something that is difficult to pick up straight away. Nowadays, the chances you'll need to actually do this are lower, but sometime it's good to know how.

Back in September, I showed you how most source applications can be compiled and installed.

Installing software. It’s something that you do quite a lot if you’re like most computer users. On Unix-like systems, there are several different ways you be getting that program however - it’s not necessarily a simple case of double-clicking one setup file.

One of these ways is to download the program’s source code and compile it yourself. This process can be a little tricky to the uninitiated, but has several benefits - including meaning you’ll have the latest copy of the program and you’ll be able to get a copy if you’re using an operating system or distribution where no pre-built packages are available.

Unfortunately, the ways different bits of software are built means that this process can differ slightly depending on exactly what you’re working on. If you’re having problems, it might be you’re dealing with something that’s a little different, so you may have to look for more help.

Something that I didn't mention in that post, but did come up in the comments was how to uninstall software that you've installed in this way. Here's how.

Provided that you kept that source directory around, in most cases you can simply run the following (as root in most cases):

# make uninstall

However, some packages don't implement this particular feature.

The bottom line is - wherever you can, try and avoid installing from source. But if you have to, this guide should give you a good insight into how.

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Avatar for peter Peter Upfold - http://peter.upfold.org.uk/

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Dusting Off the Archives - compiling software from scratch

  1. Tim (guest)

    # Posted on 30 April 2008 at 08:42 PM

    You might also point out that since not all (in fact not many, in my experience) makefiles will include an uninstall option, it's a good idea to redirect the standard output stream to a file so that you can fully remove an application by hand if no uninstall script exists:

    "make install | tee myprogram.out" myprogram.out" <--if you don't really care what output there is, just send it all to the file.

  2. Tim (guest)

    # Posted on 30 April 2008 at 08:45 PM

    hmm...somehow my comment got truncated in the middle of the message, the last part of the message should read:

    "make install | tee myprogram.out" myprogram.out <--if you don't really care what output there is, just send it all to the file.

  3. Tim (guest)

    # Posted on 30 April 2008 at 08:48 PM

    ok, apparently there is something wrong with your blogging software, it's cutting my comment (because of the quotes maybe???) one more try...sigh 1. make install | tee myprogram.out 1a. use this if you want output in both a file and on screen 2. make install > myprogram.out 2a. use this if you just want output in a file

  4. forex autopilot (guest)

    # Posted on 01 May 2009 at 05:01 PM

    Very interesting article, i have bookmarked your blog for future referrence. Best regards

  5. Bill Bartmann (guest)

    # Posted on 06 September 2009 at 04:49 PM

    Excellent site, keep up the good work

  6. Bill Bartmann- (guest)

    # Posted on 11 September 2009 at 08:54 PM

    This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I'm glad I found your blog. Thanks,

  7. Name (guest)

    # Posted on 18 February 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Thanks for another awesome post. I am quite sure this article has helped me save many hours of reading other similar posts just to find what I was looking for. Keep up the good work: Thank you!

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