"Right Way" & "Wrong Way" in the Linux World (Also: Out-of-Repository Installs)

Over in the PeppermintOS forums (http://forum.peppermintos.com), a user who is apparently new to Linux asked how to install Skype on his netbook, which is similar to mine. I responded that I had done so by downloading and installing the .deb directly from the Skype website. I added that this provided the advantage of a later release (4.3 as opposed to 4.2 on the Canonical Partners repository). Another user commented that there was only one “correct” way to install Skype under PeppermintOS, and that is to add the Canonical Partners repository and install using APT.

A discussion ensued (http://forum.peppermintos.com/index.php/topic,552.0.html) regarding whether it is helpful to position solutions as “correct” and “incorrect” in the Linux world. My thought is that beginners should be encouraged to experiment responsibly and not to proceed under the idea (encouraged by mainstream commercial developers like Microsoft) that there is one “correct” way to do things.

An administrator over there who posts under the name of PCNetSpec and who is also an administrator over here, encouraged me to post the discussion here, so I have done so. I would be happy to hear people’s views on this.

Disclaimer: I am not in the UK. :smiley:

I deal with support questions from new users every day, most fresh from the Windows way of doing things, which entails downloading ALL their software from untrusted and often unknown sources around the web.

I’ve found it useful for both myself and them to suggest the ‘correct’ way of installing software in Linux is to stick to the repositories until they’re more at home with the whole Linux/Foss community and way of thinking. I assume (maybe occasionally incorrectly) that more advanced Linux users will see this for what it is.

I’ve gone out of my way to cover ALL methods of installing software in other topics … so I’m not in the habit of hiding things from anyone.

I just find it helpful to assume people aren’t advanced users in the hope that advanced users will understand, rather than blind new users with every available option and possibly put them at risk.

As a first line “support” contact i try to give the most effective AND least risky responses … not so much the most politically correct ones.

Skype from the Microsoft website I cannot guarantee has been tested as working in Ubuntu/Peppermint so I’ll not recommend it unless there’s a clear reason to do so.

Now I too invite people (if they’re interested) to follow your links … and make up their own minds if I gave the wrong advice for a “support” topic.


after re-reading the topic I can see where you might have ‘thought’ I was saying your answer was ‘wrong’ and for that I apologise … but take it from me, if I thought you were ‘wrong’ I’d have made that clear :wink:

@ AviJ

I think the word “correct” in this context is perhaps mistaken? Perhaps “advisable” would be more appropriate…

In any Linux distro, the “advisable” way to add software is through the relevant repositories. Ok, it ‘might’ be a step or two behind the latest release but it will have been thoroughly tested to ensure it works. To any new Linux user, this is the the most important thing, I would wager? Downloading from outside of the recommended sources will always carry the possibility of risk - no matter how reputable the company it comes from… :wink:

@ Mark

I don’t think you need to do anything different to what you always do - give good, sound advice to those in need! Experienced users will understand - after all, they were newbies once upon time too!


Cheers Rich :slight_smile:

I’ve been on Linux for about 5 years and on this site since 2011 and in all that time Mark had advocated “CHOICE”.

This includes choice of ways of installing software, he has always said HIS preferred way, but has always stated the other ways (especially for newbies)

After 5 years, I’m still not confident installing from certain sites and sometimes use the software manager, sometimes synaptic, sometimes sudo apt-get and more often asking Mark. :slight_smile:

Mark must use half his life helping people like me and much more expert people, so if during all this time he types something that can be read two ways, I think its a shame that someone can only interpret it in the wrong way.

I echo Rich J and think Mark shouldn’t do anything different.

Thanks for all the help. :smiley:


Thanks guys :slight_smile:

I would say the correct way to do anything is what works and that’s what most of us want, installing software outside the repositories carries risk, Mark is not here to take risks or experiment with other peoples systems, if they want to experiment themselves then that’s fine and I’m sure Mark would help them do that as well if they asked.

I also think beginners should first learn how Linux works and a how it differs from Windows (and big part of that is the repository system) before they start to experiment

So in my view the “correct” “incorrect” argument is nothing more than a play on words and I think I speak for everyone on here when I say my transition to Linux would have been much more difficult if it wasn’t for the help and advice I’ve been given by Mark


Thanks Graeme,

I must say I wish I’d never let the red mist descend and had just ignored the original response … I should have known better, normally this stuff bounces off me, but I tend to see red when someone starts with “I don’t mean to offend” and/or “I mean no disrespect”.
In my experience that usually means “I KNOW I’m about to offend/disrespect but I’m going to do it anyway … and I’m attempting to sidestep any responsibility for offending/disrespecting”.

I’ll have to try harder not to let things like this get to me in the future :slight_smile: