Software & Apps Linux Linux Tutorial on Packaging, Updating, and Installing Your package-management system defines the installation process Share Pin Email Print John Coulter / Getty Images Linux Switching from Windows By Juergen Haas Writer Former Lifewire writer Juergen Haas is a software developer, data scientist, and a fan of the Linux operating system. our editorial process Juergen Haas Updated February 08, 2020 The core Linux distribution extends through the use of packages presented through online catalogs. Different distributions rely on architectural builds geared toward specific package-management systems. The package manager you use determines how you'll install or update new packages. Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0 What's a Package? Packages are software applications for Linux. Just as Apple's App Store and Google Play Music offer curated apps for iOS and Android, and the Microsoft Store supports Windows 10, a package manager accesses a library of programs designed to work with your distribution's architectural standards. What's a Package Manager? A package manager serves as the onboard tool for accessing online software catalogs and installing, updating and removing packages from your Linux environment. There's more than one package manager on the market, and their packages aren't easily cross-compatible. Furthermore, not all packages exist in every package manager's catalog. Common package management systems include: dkpg: Used by Debian and Ubuntu, and supported by tools like apt, aptitude, and the Synaptic Package ManagerPacman: Used by Arch LinuxPortage: Used by Gentoo LinuxSnappy: A relatively new, self-contained package format developed by Ubuntu's parent companyRPM Package Manager: Developed by Red Hat and supported by tools like YUM and zypper How Do I Install or Update Packages? Novice Linux users should use the onboard package management tool included with your distribution. You'll find it in the windowing system. Each tool is configured differently and offers different options, but they're all graphical-based and require an administrative password to work. Within the point-and-click tool, you can search for new packages, delete existing packages or find updates for installed packages. Manual Package Management Power users rarely rely on the graphical tools included with the distribution, preferring instead to issue package-management commands directly from the shell. In some cases, e.g., Linux server administration, there's no desktop at all, so shell access is the only way to update packages. Each package manager supports different shell commands, but in general, each requires that you specify root-level credentials (the root password or the account password of a user empowered to manage packages) to change the operating system. For example, to install the popular text editor Nano, you'd use the following shell commands: Apt: apt install nano Pacman: pacman -S nano Zypper: zypper install nano Portage: emerge nano DNF: dnf install nano Check the documentation for the shell-based package management tool for specific instructions, including relevant command flags that modify how the base tool works.