Users accustomed to Windows for years, and that just they start on Linux, they are not very familiar with the package format used in this operating system to expand the content of the software and install the rest of the applications.
In some way, This format is similar to that used by smartphones, with the particularity that each distribution changes the administration of the packages. For this reason, it is necessary to know in advance what type of file the distro you have installed needs is, but that is not that complicated. Just by knowing a few acronyms you will be able to do it.
In this step by step, we are going to clarify many of your doubts regarding the different package formats that exist for Linux and the utility they provide for the operation of your distribution.
What is a package format and what is it useful for in Linux?
When we talk about a package format, we mean a set of files ordered for a specific task. To function, each of the programs or applications has what is necessary within the respective packages so that they run without errors in the respective distribution.
Packages come to fix compatibility between different software developers, since each one is prepared with dependencies, indicating the conditions that the computer must have to install it. To make the job of installing existing packages easier, the managers make the process easy and display a list of the programs that are available. They all fulfill the same function, even if it changes its appearance.
These are the main Linux package formats you can use today
There are different packages for Linux, In most cases depending on the distribution that is installed. Although we have tried to create a single one that combines many characteristics, in the end new formats end up being added to the list of those already available.
We leave you the most popular packages currently:
These packages use the format “squashFS” in which the application code is located together with a “snap.yaml” file that provides the details of the package. Inside are all the libraries that are needed to function without errors And the best thing is that when they are updated, the rest of the system is not affected. One of the advantages of Snap is its ease of installation, security and its compatibility with any device. The best way to get it is in your app store.
When it was created in 2015, it was intended to work without root privileges and, unlike others, it does not put the dependencies together with the program we want to install. That lowers its size, but takes a bit more work because it involves adding a lot of packages. This detail makes up for with integration with other Linux applications and desktops.
More than a package manager, with this means you get a portable image of the application that runs in any distribution. Everything is packaged in a single file and to use it you just have to give it the execution permission. Sometimes the option to install appears, in this case it integrates seamlessly into the operating system.
These packages include compressed files in which the data is and drivers for the program to install. Its name comes from the origin, which is the Debian distribution and is used in various graphical interfaces. To execute it, it is done with dpkg, although the package can be converted to other formats using a tool called Alien.
This package was created by Gentoo and used to create, group and install applications in Paludis or Portage systems in simple and binary mode. At the end, the user can open and edit the documents included in the installation.
This package manager is capable of automating the installation process of an application, it only needs the user to execute it. The creation and administration is very simple, which gives a few extra points to the Arch Linux operating system, which is the main source of this tool.
Although it was originally conceived for Red Hat, it is currently used by at least six other different distributions. It is used to search and request the programs to be installed, but along with it it fulfills the functions of updating, uninstalling and verifying that they are working well.
Its use was mainly with the Pardus distribution, launched in 2005. Its functions, apart from installing, consist of update and delete packages on the system. Likewise, it is used to create tools and applications.
tgz, txz or tar.gz
These files are used mostly in Linux. They are joined or packed all in TAR, then they are compressed to reduce their size and do not take up so much space on the computer, leaving the extension “tgz”. Once they reach their final destination, they are unzipped to extract and install them. It is a good tool for small developers.
pkg.tar.xz or pkg.tar.gz
This is another file compression format used by Pacman, which is part of Arch Linux. In its inside it’s found a “TAR” file that, being lightweight, makes it easy to send. For its part, the extension “pkg” It contains everything that must be installed on the computer to enjoy the tool.
It is used to pack files in the same directory and then share them on the internet or on a local server in a simple way. In this record is all the metadata, which includes the owner’s name and the date it was modified. When compressed, they are available in up to five endings, including “tlz”.
These files store binaries and it can be opened and modified in a text editor. There you will find all the data related to the application and it is used mainly by SLAX as a module manager that is added to the desktop configuration.
PUP and PET
These files are part of the Puppy Linux distribution and are used to store programs and with just one click they are installed on your computer.