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Installing or Requesting New Software

You need to use a piece of software which you can't find on the Maths Linux system. What do you do? (Windows users, please skip to the section on requesting software be installed for you. Unlike Linux, most Windows programs expect to be installed by someone with admin rights.)

  1. First check whether it's installed on the Linux machines already.
  2. Then check whether someone else has installed it in the central user-maintained software area.
  3. Consider whether to install it yourself or request that we install it for you.
  4. How to install software yourself.
  5. Requesting software be installed for you.

Is your software installed already?

Although some Linux software is accessible via the XUbuntu menus, many programs are only accessible via the command line. Pop up a terminal window and type the name of the program you need.

If you are a long-term user or have highly customised shell config files (.bash_profile, .bashrc, .cshrc), check your PATH. Make sure that it includes /alt/bin. This check is especially important if your colleagues can access software which you cannot, or if software seems to have disappeared.

If your software isn't installed in a standard system directory or in /alt/bin, someone else may have installed it in /alt/applic/user-maint, our central directory for user installed and maintained software.

Should you install it yourself?

As a rough guide, if the software is a standard Ubuntu package then please ask us to install it for you. It will require virtually no work on our part other than adding the software to our list of installed packages, and it will mean that the software is well integrated with Ubuntu and kept up to date automatically. To check whether your software is a standard Ubuntu package visit, search for your software and see what is available for Ubuntu 16.04. R add-on packages such as the MASS library are also straightforward for us to install.

If you think the software will be of general interest in the long term, also consider asking us to install it so that it continues to be maintained after you leave.

Otherwise (e.g. if the software is only likely to be used by you and your students and visitors) please consider installing it yourself. You do not need root access to install and run the vast majority of software on Linux/UNIX computers, although you may need to tweak some configuration files to instruct the software to install itself into a directory to which you have access. If the software must be installed in a location you cannot write to such as /usr/local/bin, then please email help@maths to request that it be installed for you.

How to install software yourself

When you are installing software you may only install it into a directory you can write to, such as your home directory, data/scratch space or the shared location mentioned above (/alt/applic/user-maint). If there is any chance that the software may be useful to someone else then please consider placing it in the shared software installs location.

  • Before installing software in user-maint for the first time, you will need to email help@maths to request a subdirectory for your software.
  • Remember to create and maintain an INDEX file listing the software you have installed so that others can benefit from it.

A worked example of installing software in user-maint

If you are new to UNIX please do the "Unix: Introduction to the Command Line Interface (Self-paced)" course run (FREE to staff and students) by the University Computing Service Training Programme.

Also consider attending the excellent "Unix: Building, Installing and Running Software" course.

Requesting Software be installed for You

Please email help@maths including the following information.

  • The name of the software
  • What it does
  • Why you need it
  • Where we can download the source code or binary
  • If you need the latest version, please explain why, especially if an older version of your software is already installed

Some software can be time-consuming and difficult to install so it may take a while to get it done - especially if it is not mathematically related.