A Year of Linux, Februray 3: Installation Recipes!
The old plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition. To read that first week, click here!
The new plan: Keep using Linux for the rest of the year, giving periodic updates on my experiences, all of which you can read here!
February 3: Installation Recipes!
Last week I moved back in with Linux and tried to convince it to do a favour for me and install Java, even though I hadn’t washed the dishes the entire time I was there and also accidentally set Linux’s couch on fire during my daily meditation, because my chakras wouldn’t centre and I dropped my incense.
Linux wasn’t very happy with me, but in the end it did what I asked. Like a true friend it took my abuse with no expectation of ever getting anything out of the relationship in return, and with no expectation of ever getting back its foot massager or its copy of The World According to Garp (which I haven’t started yet, but I’m totally gonna start reading it when I have some free time, man.)
All in all I got a taste of what it’s like to have difficulty installing an app in Linux, and now I want more of that delicious, moist, fluffy frustration. So join me for my installation recipes!
My latest obsession is a video game called Toribash. I was introduced to it on a Windows machine at a friend’s place, where we first started learning the martial technique of spastically flailing like a crash test dummy experiencing massive seizures while jacked up on a host of amphetamines.
When I get home I am happy to see that there is a Linux version of Toribash available, just waiting for me to haphazardly attempt to install it and then write an article about it, so that readers like you can derive some enjoyment out of my ragdoll-like technological spasms!
Sticking with my usual style I decide to rush in head first with my arms flopping at my sides like dead rainbow trout, with no regard for the potential risk of tearing myself apart in the event that things go wrong.
My first step is to check the Linux download section on Toribash’s site, which I find has a few different installation types for different versions of Linux. I don’t immediately see anything that looks familiar, and so without any consideration whatsoever I grab two different packages designed for “other distributions.”
My first step in finding some tangy, melt-in-your-mouth installation options is to go to work on the tar.gz package, because it is somewhat familiar to me. I know that the .tar file is an archive, so I open it up to see what I can find. Inside there are some files that look like they ought to run the game, so I extract them to a folder and click on the one that says “Toribash.”
The next thing that happens is nothing. Either that or Toribash looks exactly like my desktop when absolutely nothing is happening. I decide to pick the most obvious possibility of the two: that I have once again failed miserably in my first attempt at getting something to work in Linux. Mmm, scrumptious.
With the sweet sting of failure lingering on my palette, and absolutely no desire to figure out how to manipulate any of the files in the .tar archive to get them to work, I decide to move on to the automatic installation file. Automatic installation files are nice because they are files that install automatically, instead of not installing automatically. With this key piece of information in mind I click on the file and wait for it to automatically do its automatic thing, like a microwave turning a raw potato into a perfect batch of gnocchi.
What actually transpires is nothing of the automatic installation sort. In fact what happens is so far from an installation, and so far removed from anything that makes sense given our standards of reasoning, that it became the primary reason for writing an entire article — an article that you may or may not be reading at this very moment. (I don’t want to make any assumptions about what you like to read. That would just be presumptuous of me.)
Rather than install, the automatic installer chooses to communicate to me that an error has occurred, via an error window. The error window is titled “Error,” which actually makes quite a bit of sense when you think about it.
It is the next part that doesn’t disappoint me with any of that sensical nonsense; the error window’s next step is to inform me that the error which has occurred is, in fact, Success.
Oh God it is so delicious.
The error was success. I cannot think of anything more brilliant than that. I don’t even have to write any more bad jokes, because that error window made something more perfect than I could ever hope to imagine even thinking about one day considering.
The irony is actually tangible. It has a flavour, and it tastes like a gigantic cake topped with icing made from another liquefied cake, stuffed inside yet another cake and then condensed into a bite-sized morsel, which is placed delicately on the most concentrated area of taste buds on my tongue. It is installationy culinary perfection.
Finally, it leaves me with a button that simply says OK, as if to imply that by pressing the button I am somehow just A-okay with what it has shown me. “Error: Success. OK?” it tells me as I stare at it in utter confusion, my only course of action being to press the OK button and be forced into accepting that the logical abomination it just presented me with is just fine.
My hunger for installation insanity has truly been sated by this automatic installer, and there is almost no reason for me to continue writing, or even continuing living for that matter. Yet I must continue, for the sake of the article.
With the aftertaste of that fantastic second failure still in my eating hole, my next step is to head to the Add/Remove programs app, and then Synaptic, to see if Toribash is included in those collections for easy installation. Unfortunately, both apps come up with nothing and I am left in a strange and scary situation.
Up until now installation of programs in Linux has been fairly easy: if using the resources provided by the creators of the software didn’t work, then I could simply find a way within Ubuntu to get things installed. Even Java, which was more of a pain to get working than was probably necessary, was still supported enough by the resources of Linux to be installable through Add/Remove and Synaptic.
But now I am left in a barren wasteland of installationlessness. I am cold and alone, with no support from the OS and no idea what to do to get this wonderful game installed so I can start tearing my own arms off while trying to injure my opponent. What do you do to get something installed when Ubuntu doesn’t seem to directly support it?
With that I head to the forums, which in the past have been a great help. As usual I see that someone else is having the same problem as me, and has made a thread about it. But unfortunately all the answers in the thread are actually vague non-answers, and only explain that I should get the libraries or something, which I don’t know how to do.
You’ve failed me forums! After so many good times spent together you’ve turned your back on me when I needed your help the most: namely, when I wanted to install a video game based entirely on contracting glutes to make people’s limbs fly off.
“There must be an easier way,” I yell to myself as loudly and discontendedly as possible. The person next to me tells me to keep it down, because this is a quiet dining area. Discouraged and tired, I decide that I could probably get some better work done at some place other than a restaurant, and there’s only one place left to go… the manual.
I’ve made fun of the Ubuntu manual before for not really helping with anything ever and being so smelly (I think the only thing it eats is boiled cabbage) so hopefully it will not hold any grudges now that I have come crawling back, looking for its help.
It turns out that the manual is actually totally fine with it, invites me in, asks me if I want some cabbage, tells me it doesn’t get many visitors, and then insists that we are best friends forever now that I made eye contact with it without telling it that it smells like cabbage.
The manual then proceeds to tell me a very long, boring story about its cat Donald who is apparently so cute when it meows, because it sounds just like Dana Carvey doing an imitation of George Bush senior, and also something about installing things in Linux. After many many paragraphs of stuff I don’t care about, something the manual says catches my ear. “To install downloaded packages,” it says, “just use the one that is a .deb file.”
That’s it! I grab my coat, tell the manual that I had a good time and to shut the hell up about its cat, and run out the door to the Toribash site. There I find the .deb installation file, which runs perfectly and installs the game, and before I know it I am doing backflips and breaking my own head off!
And so I learned a good lesson during my quest for delicious installation recipess: just use the .deb file if there are no other options. It may have ended up tasting like disgusting cabbage, but it worked.
I was a bit confused early on in my my relationship with Linux by the slick Add/Remove programs app, because there didn’t seem to be any other way to install things. It wasn’t like Windows, which will run you through an installation wizard for any old app or spyware or virus; instead it seemed the Add/Remove apps were the only way to install things, which was worrisome. And while I’m sure not every .deb file will run as flawlessly as Toribash’s did, it’s good to know that in the event that an application I want to use is not directly supported by Ubuntu, there is another simple way to get things to work.
I also learned that I will never be as funny as Linux unintentionally was today. Error: Success. OK. You just can’t make that stuff up.