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I am new to Linux and I am trying to install Skype and Google Chrome on my desktop. It runs Debian 5 32-bit. I downloaded the packages from the web but I have no idea how to install them. I have looked on the internet but as expected "double-clicking" doesn't work. It is very frustrating!

Help will be much appreciated!


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There are options for installing software without root access. First of all, using the sources (if available) you can build and use most packages as a non-root user -- but this "from sources" way forces you to deal with dependencies, as well. Starting from that, pkgsrc makes this easier, by offering a large number of, say, recipes to build packages and their dependencies (so-called "ports"). It supports non-root operation, see this FAQ entry. There is a guide on how to use pkgsrc here.

Regarding the packages you're looking for, they have "ports" in pkgsrc: wip/chromium, net/skype21. (Where Chromium, the Open Source project related to Google Chrome, is available as a work-in-progress package only, i.e. via wip.sf.net, a repository of additional ports to pkgsrc.

Also, there is ZeroInstall, which as far as I know provides binary packages that you can install in some way not requiring root permissions. (Of course you need to install ZeroInstall first, which you can -- if your sysadmin doesn't install the zeroinstall-injector Debian package for you -- install from source, too, as explained here.) I'm not sure if this way is less involved, though. (From a quick look, they seem to have Chromium and Skype packages, but the first one looks kind of old.)

The bottom line: it is possible, but involves some work and things to learn (which can be considered a good thing, while time-consuming). The easiest way probably is calling your sysadmin to install the Debian packages you want to use.

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If you want to install a package with a double click, first you should install an application that with handle that. In a terminal write

sudo apt-get install gdebi

if you do not have a root password, or

su -c 'apt-get install gdebi'

if you have a root password.

After that the double click in the filemanager should work.

Google Chrome, in the unbranded version called Chromium is available in the package chromium-browser, so no need to download the package, simply run

sudo apt-get install chromium-browser
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Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, when I typed the first instruction, the terminal complained because my username is not in the sudoers file. Is there anyway out of this? – Angie Jan 21 '12 at 16:49
@Angie: so you should use the second version, and provide the root password. – enzotib Jan 21 '12 at 17:19
I do not have the root password (the systems guy at work refuses to give it to me). I guess I'll have to ask him to install my programs... Thanks for your response! – Angie Jan 21 '12 at 19:51
Yeah, if you're not the sysadmin then you're not going to be allowed to install software to the system. Software like gdebi -- or sudo for that matter -- is meant for the sysadmin to make his own job easier without having to su to root for everything, not to give random users admin privileges... – Shadur Jan 21 '12 at 22:24

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