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Let's say that I've found a program that I want to install on my machine. It is only available as a source tarball that can be built with the usual ./configure; make; make install.

While I could do make install in these instances, I'm likely not going to know where xyz file/command come from in a few years, and whether it is important. And who knows what will happen if I try to build a newer version of the program.

What's the most common, manageable way of handling scenarios like this?

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    Look at CheckInstall: wiki.debian.org/CheckInstall
    – jasonwryan
    Mar 16, 2016 at 2:14
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    Another option is to install it under a prefix like /usr/local/<program-name> or /opt/<program-name>. You'll have to modify some environment variables like PATH to get it work though, but the advantage is you know exactly what is installed by the package.
    – Munir
    Mar 16, 2016 at 2:55
  • Related: This post had asked on "How to manage Debian source code packages using aptitude or apt?", which had an answer for using apt-src. Just one of the ways, but may be not the best.
    – user125388
    Mar 16, 2016 at 4:20
  • also look at dh-make and/or debhelper - tools that make it easy to build a package from unpackaged source code.
    – cas
    Mar 16, 2016 at 20:56

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