Linux – the “program files” in Debian


I'm new to Linux and not really sure how the file system works.

When you install a program in Windows, it stores the program's files in the Program Files folder and creates an icon in the Start menu. If I want to create an icon myself, I just search for the exe, as there is usually only one exe file with the program name, and I create a shortcut to launch it.

Could someone explain me what happens when I install a program on Linux? (by running a .deb file) Where does it store the program's files, how can I identify the file I have to run to start the application, and how do I create a shortcut to run it?

Best Answer

When you install new programs in *.deb format the synaptic package manager will run a dependency check and install all required files in the package to your system. Depending on what kind of package it is and what type of files it has, the files will be placed in different directories. To see where the different files reside in your filesystem after installation, you can open synaptic and right-click the package + details to see what files are in it. Executable files in a package often reside in directories with bin in their path e.g. /bin, /usr/bin, /usr/local/bin, /usr/local/sbin, /usr/sbin where / means the root directory - the parent to all directories in your filesystem.

Inspect your environmental PATH variable on what directories are searched for executables whenever you execute a program. Start a terminal with Alt+F2 and type in xterm, hit Enter and issue:

$ echo $PATH

To create a shortcut launcher for the installed application, make sure it has an associated *.desktop file, usually residing in /usr/share/applications/. You should then be able to right-click your desktop and select something like "create launcher", providing the path to the application if it's not in the list.

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