Time for another quick Jargon Jam article, as it occurs to me I haven’t done one in a while. I’ve already talked about the words Linux and Distro, so in keeping with that theme I thought today I’d go for “repo”. A word I use a lot, and something new arrivals to the Linux may find confusing on their first encounter.
The term “repo” is simply an abbreviation of the word “repository”, a place where software packages are stored, ready to be searched and installed. This is a major difference in approach for many people coming over from a Windows platform. You’re natural instinct when you need a new program might be to search for a website and download a file from their to install it. This is incredibly insecure, and a common entry point for many of those nasty viruses you get as an unwanted bonus sometimes. In Linux you have a secure remote location where a massive selection of tried and tested software is ready and waiting. This is what we call a repository. You use tools on your system to search for the program you want, tick a box and install it. How easy is that? When you install something like Ubuntu for example, it comes with a list of default repos that the developers (in this case Canonical) have added. You can add additional repository locations to this list and expand the range of sofware available if you like; they’re just web addresses essentially. Many 3rd party software vendors provide their own repositories for the likes of Ubuntu, and other popular distributions. They maintain and keep the software up to date, so you don’t have to.
Another advantage of managing software this way is that everything on your system can be updated centrally. When the developers add an updated version of something to the repo, your automatic update checker will find it and notify you. It can then update all the necessary packages in one go. You might say “but Windows has automatic updates”, and it does, after a fashion. Only the core operating system itself is updated, all other software packages are responsible for managing their own updates. So you can have dozens of tools trying to do the same job and making a right mess. The same is true of Mac OS I’ve been told. With centalized repositories managed by trusted developers, you always have the latest software without any hassle. You still have the choice to go to a website and download a binary installer if you prefer, but I find repos much more elegant, convieneint and secure.
- Software Repositories – Wikipedia
- Why Software Repositories Are An Advantage For Linux – Linux.com
- Launchpad Personal Package Archive Help
I hope that helps to demystify the term a bit for any newcomers. I did see a hilarious post comparing installing software on Windows to Linux recently, so I’ll leave you to enjoy that. Any comments or corrections please feel free to add them underneath and I’ll do my best to answer.
Thanks for reading,