Tutorial - How to get those valuable ".deb" Files & Back Them Up:
For Ubuntu 5.10:
I was once a Windows boy & Windows were always creating trouble with Viruses, Spyware & the rest paraphernalia...
Most viruses could be removed, however there were some that could NOT be removed, NOT even if you could use the BEST Antivirus or other program (cousin) in the market.
The ONLY (but BEST) solution was ALWAYS the (unavoidable) Format of my PC Machine.
I would always have to Re-install Windows & then Re-install all the Rest (but required) drivers & programs to make my machine look like "brand" new.
So, in my Windows (ugly) world, whenever I would download Drivers, I would save them in a Driver Folder for a later (or future) use (the mentioned ugly Re-Format Windows need...).
In the Past, I have posted articles on the "Synaptic Package Manager" & how NOT good it works.
I will NOT talk a lot about this, but you could read my Articles on the "The Beginner Community" Forum (articles: 129303, 132252, 132795, 133603).
I am still a Beginner in this Ubuntu OS, but that does NOT mean that I can NOT share what I have learned with you guys.
Basically I DESPERATELY needed to Backup the ".deb" files of programs I downloaded in my Ubuntu Computer.
Since I was scared that Windows related problems (Format & stuff) could (possibly) be needed sometime in my Ubuntu, I wanted to have a Backup of the Ubuntu Programs I downloaded & Installed from the Internet.
For me, it seemed "crazy" that people were relying on the "Synaptic Package Manager" or "Automatix"
to do the Installs & to NOT have the power themselves to perform installs.
However I STILL needed to Backup the Programs I downloaded from the Internet (as I mentioned before), in the case I had to Format my Ubunty...
It would be frustrating if I had to download again & again the SAME programs whenever I had to Format my Hard Drive's Ubuntu Partition.
At the same time I realized that Programs in the Linux World are NOT a single File (like Windows)!
Programs in the Linux World have what its called "Dependency" Files (or programs).
And that only made things more complicated...
What it really meant was that, if I downloaded & backed up (for example) Adobe's (well-known) Acrobat Reader program, if I tried to install it manually (myself), the program could REQUIRE (in order to work), some other programs (as prerequisites).
Then I would have to "Search" for those programs / dependencies (one by one) which could REQUIRE in order to work other prerequisites...
I have personally installed programs (in my Ubuntu), that required 18 prerequisites in order to work!
The story does NOT end here, because then the install order / procedure for installing these prerequisites were NOT known or posted anywhere...
Let us assume that Adobe Acrobat Reader (program: "acroread_7.0.1-0.0.ubuntu1_i386.deb") Required the Below program as prerequisites to install:
Can you tell me on which EXACT order you have to install the above programs to finally make the "Adobe Acrobat's Reader" to install?
Do NOT in any way assume, that you can start installing them, one by one, starting from the top to bottom...
The "Adobe's Acrobat Reader" program is just used as an Example. It is not
hard to install, nor does it have as many dependency files. However I needed
to use a famous program as Adobe's Reader for the sake of my example.
Back to our Example:
1. When you attempt to install the program (or dependency) "a", it REQUESTS from
you, that you FIRST must install program "d".
2. Then you try to install program "d", but it REQUESTS from you, that you FIRST
must install programs (or dependencies) "f" & "g".
3. Then you probably wonder, which of the above 2 ("f" & "g"), you should try to
install first. And you start with "f", which REQUESTS that you FIRST must install
programs (or dependencies) "r", "n" & "k".
....And it goes on & on...
Are you sure, you would still want to perform the installation of the "Adobe's Acrobat Reader" program yourself, if it might be so complicated?
To manually perform a "Search" & manually download ALL those 18 prerequisites programs (or dependencies) while at the same time NOT really being sure that you downloaded the correct ones, is NOT a good idea.
At the same time your problems are NOT finished – they have just started...
Then (assuming that you downloaded the correct file names), to manually install them by yourself (one by one), & trying to find the correct combination (or order) to install them is NOT the BEST way...
You would have to start taking "headache pills" or become an "alcoholic" or worse "cokaine" addict!!!
And in the end you will finally ABANDON Ubuntu...
Now, this is where "Synaptic Package Manager" comes in.
You tell it what program you want to download & "Synaptic":
1. Finds automatically ALL the dependencies you NEED to download,
2. Downloads the program & its dependencies you need to make it work, & finally
3. Installs everything & you are ready to start working with your Program!
You can NOT get rid of the "Synaptic Package Manager" program!
In fact, you NEED it more than it needs you!
But where is your BACKUP?
If you rely on somebody else to do everything (e.g. the "Synaptic Package Manager"), then how can you perform any BACKUP.
So, then ALL the wisdom (Forum) guys come in & resolve my "posted worried FORUM articles" only to say that there is a folder where "Synaptic Package Manager" downloads ALL the Dependencies & programs I want to install...
That is great you might say, go & BACKUP that Folder....
Well if you go & see by yourselves inside that Folder, you will find that its contents are SO many, you'll want to "dive" in an empty swimming pool if NOT from a cliff!
That folder "/var/cache/apt/archives" (they suggested), had hundreds (if NOT thousands) of files, programs or dependencies.
How can YOU locate your "Adobe's Acrobat Reader" single program file & its 18 dependency files, so that you can Back them Up in a Folder say "Adobe Acrobat Reader Program & Dependencies"?
Don't suggest the "Search" method, cause typing those file's names (listed above) in a "Search" box, will FORCE you to start taking those "headache pills" or drink "alcohol" or worse start the "cokaine" !!!
So it is like: searching for a needle in a stack of hay....
So YA want to Backup your Downloaded Programs (and Dependencies) Neat & Tidy?
This is How to DO IT:
The following way, does NOT remove the program "Synaptic Package Manager" out of the picture.
It just uses it to make your Backup (or locate ".deb" files you might be looking for) & at the same time uses it to install all your programs needed.
Part 1 – Making the Backup:
1. Launch the program "Synaptic Package Manager"
(from the Menu, select "System\Administration\Synaptic Package Manager"
2. In the box that comes up, type your User's "password" to get "Root" Rights &
Priviledges (Administrator Rights & Priviledges)
3. From the Menu, select "Settings\Preferrences".
4. Click on the Tab named "Files" & click on the button named "Delete Cached
5. Click on the button named "OK", to close that window.
By clicking on that button, basically you Told Ubuntu, to go inside that
"/var/cache/apt/archives" folder & DELETE all packages.
Now don't get a heart attack here. Nothing damaged your Ubuntu.
If you have performed a clean install to your system, all those packages (found
inside there) were installed from your Ubuntu's Install CD, so if you want
anything you can go & find it inside your Ubuntu's Install CD (look inside the
"/pool/main" folder to find the packages in alphabetical order).
So, no harm, everything is neat...
If you do NOT believe that ALL Packages were deleted, go check yourself that
the "/var/cache/apt/archives" Folder, contains now only 1 file & 1 folder – the
rest were deleted.
If NOT, go & press that "Delete Cached Packaged Files" button again.
6. From the Menu, select "Settings\Repositories".
7. Select the first line in the list, named "CD Ubuntu 5.10 - Breezy Badger" & click
on the button named "Remove".
8. Click on the button named "OK" & then on the button named "Yes".
Basically what we did here, was to Remove the Ubuntu's Install CD from the
"Synaptic" would go to Search before going & downloading programs (that
already existed locally).
Since many Packages are lying inside your Ubuntu's Install CD, if they are the
latest version, your Ubuntu goes to search the CD for installing them (instead of
downloading from the Internet).
And since those files are inside the CD, they are NOT copied inside
"/var/cache/apt/archives" (the drop place for everything that is downloaded in
your Ubuntu PC).
So, if you want a FULL Backup of your program, you have to disable the use of
the Ubuntu Install CD. (or you will end up backing up half you the stuff needed).
9. On the Standard Toolbar, click on the button named "Reload", to Update your
The "Reload" button actually Updates your Repositories according to your
If you have performed a clean install & have NOT tampered your "sources.list"
File, you will notice on your "Status Bar", that the Packages available for
installation from the Ubuntu Community are "4.092 packages listed – 1.033
installed" (if you have Ubuntu 5.10 installed).
If you had tampered your "sources.list" File, you could get on your "Status Bar",
"17.824 packages listed – 1.033 installed", if not more...
That means that thousands of programs (authenticated or not) are available for
you to install through the "Synaptic Package Manager" program.
This Tutorial's main objective is NOT to teach you how to MAKE available to your
"Synaptic Package Manager's" MORE program packages, but to teach you How
to Backup downloaded packages (or programs).
Look at a different Tutorial for this (I currently have not made one yet, but
probably some other person has – take a look at the Ubuntu's "Customization
Tips & Tricks" Page & hopefully you will find one).
10. Since we are looking to install the Adobe's (well-known) Acrobat Reader
program, on the Standard Toolbar, click on the button named "Search", to tell
"Synaptic" to look for the Acrobat Reader program & its dependency files.
11. Type "acrobat" & see what you will get. On the right-side of the window you
will find a list of packages found according to the "Search" you performed.
Search through that list & take a look at the programs found.
12. Select the First program on that list, which is "acroread" & read through the
description provided below.
Usually the description helps you to verify if that is what you are looking for. In
our case, YES, this is the program we are looking for.
13. Right-click on the box, to the left of the name of our program "acroread" &
select "Mark for installation"
14. A new window will come up & list the Program that is going to be downloaded
& its dependency files (if any). If our case there are two dependency files listed
(& needed to install):
Previously I said that it was 18 dependency files.
That was just used just to point out a dependency example – NOT the case for
the program "Adobe Acrobat Reader".
In fact, the above dependency files are REQUIRED to install the program
"mozilla-mplayer" plugin to your Mozilla-Firefox Internet Browser.
You can (sometimes) click on the arrows to expand or retract the dependency
Sometimes, there are programs that YOU are trying to install that are "Not
Authenticated". In such a case, you install them at your own risk. So be careful
with what you install.
15. Click on the button named "Mark", to mark the program & its dependency files
that you want to install.
The box, to the left of the name of our program "acroread", should now
(instead of empty), have a yellow arrow pointing into it. If that is the case,
move to step 16. If NOT repeat steps 13-15.
16. On the Standard Toolbar, click on the button named "Apply".
17. On the Summary window that comes up, click on the button named "Download
package files only"
We basically want to download the packages but do NOT install them yet.
I have personally noticed cases, where if you went & installed a program,
some parameters would change on the program files used.
So, if your Backup was taken after the installation, that Backup could NOT be
used to perform this SAME installation (in the future) of the SAME program
(cause some parameters were already tampered, when you decided to
The chance of this to happen is very rare, but why risk it?
So, ALWAYS Backup before you install !
18. Click on the button named "Apply" & the download process should start.
Three files should start to Download (the program & the 2 dependency files).
19. When the download is finished, go visit the "/var/cache/apt/archives" folder &
manually perform a copy&paste your files to your Desktop or anywhere you
would like – as this is your Backup.
Sometime these files you download have a "lock" on their icons. That means,
that there might be restrictions to these file's - "read/write/execute"
To find out how to remove these restrictions, read a Tutorial on how to use the
"chmod" or "chown"
commands. Again, look at the Ubuntu's "Customization Tips & Tricks" Page &
hopefully you will find one).
Now you can go ahead & install the "Adobe Acrobat Reader" program.
Part 2 – Installing your Software:
1. On the Standard Toolbar, click on the button named "Apply". (previous step 16)
2. On the Summary window that comes up, de-select (remove the tick) on the
button named "Download package files only"
This Time, we want to download & Install the Packages.
You will probably wonder, why download again?
We are NOT! If your original copies of the program "Adobe Acrobat Reader" &
its dependency files are still lying inside the folder "/var/cache/apt/archives",
"Synaptic" is NOT going to download the program again, unless there is a
NEWER version lying out in the Internet's Repositories.
If a NEWER version is found, you will see stuff downloading in your Computer.
So first you will immediately find out & second you can then go & Backup the
3. Click on the button named "Apply" & the Download process should start.
Three files should start to Download (the program & the 2 dependency files).
However the "Synaptic" will soon realize that the LATEST program's version are
lying inside your "/var/cache/apt/archives" folder, so there is NO need to
Then the "Install Software" process will start.
4. A "changes applied" windows should come up. Click on the button named
Congratulations, your "Adobe Acrobat Reader" has been installed successfully!
To verify that it has installed successfully, notice that now the box, to the left of the name of our program "acroread", is filled in green color meaning that everything is now OK.
Close the program "Synaptic Package Manager" (from the Menu, select "File\Quit").
To run your program "Adobe Acrobat Reader", from the menu select "Applications\Office\Adobe Reader".
You made your Backup & whenever you want to Install a program to your Ubuntu, just copy&paste the program & its dependency files inside the folder "/var/cache/apt/archives", and let "Synaptic Package Manager" do the rest.
Inside the Forums, I very often see people asking where can they get a ".deb" file for a program to install in their computer.
At the same time, they have located a ".tar.gz" program file to install.
".tar.gz" program files, are really complicated to install, and they are almost impossible to install if you are a Beginner (like me).
In fact, let me say that you have to be a PRO (or really lucky) to be able to install a ".tar.gz" program file in your Ubuntu computer (with NO hassle & problems).
Finally, if you are looking to find a ".deb" file for a program to install in your computer, why don't you download it from "Synaptic", with the method you just learned.
And if you want to learn how to manually install a ".deb" file in your Ubuntu, you will soon find a nice Tutorial inside the Ubuntu's "Customization Tips & Tricks" Page.
Have Fun !!!
P.S. 1> Sorry for my bad grammar syntax (& repetitions), but I have spent more
than 6 hours to create this...
... hope it is helpful to you.
P.S.2> I would appreciate if somebody has something to Add that corrects me if I
have performed a mistake.
PLEASE do NOT add comments like "thanks dude", or "that's how you do it"
because people that want to read a Tutorial, end up reading
comments of NO Educational Importance.