7:     Software Management

7.1: Introduction


Synaptic is the recommended method for beginners to manipulate software packages, although other methods are also available and may be required for certain situations.


Installing, removing, and upgrading software on MEPIS is accomplished through the Advanced Package Tool (APT) system. Software is provided in the form of a package, a discrete, non-executable bundle of data that includes instructions for your package manager about installation. They are stored on servers called repositories, and can be browsed, downloaded, and installed through special client software called a package manager. The recommended package manager for MEPIS is Synaptic (see Section 7.2), though the graphical utility KPackage and the command-line utility apt-get are also included for those who prefer them (see Section 7.3).

The majority of packages have one or more dependencies, meaning that they have one or more packages that must also be installed in order for them to work. The APT system is designed to automatically handle dependencies for you; in other words, when you try to install a package whose dependencies aren't already installed, your APT package manager will automatically mark those dependencies for installation as well.


APT repositories (repos) are much more than just web sites with downloadable software. The packages on repository sites are specially organized and indexed to be accessed through a package manager, rather than browsed directly. MEPIS Linux 7.0 comes with a set of enabled repositories that offer you both security and choice. If you are new to MEPIS (and especially if you are new to Linux), it is recommended that you stick with the default repositories (though see Section 8.2).

For security reasons, these repositories are digitally signed, meaning that packages are authenticated with an encryption key to make sure they are authentic. You can install packages without the key, but you will get a warning that they could not be authenticated. To get rid of this warning and make sure your installations are secure, you need to install any keys not installed by default. Most repositories should have a keyring package which installs the necessary keys (search keyring in Synaptic). Here are the most common:

If you add other repositories aside from the default, see if they contain a keyring package, or check the repository's home page for instructions on adding the key.

Repositories are most easily added, removed, or edited through Synaptic using the repository editor (Settings --> Repositories). They can also be altered by hand, using as root any text editor to modify the list stored in /etc/apt/sources.list.

Some repositories carry special labels: