How to Install Open Source Software

Once you have decided to migrate to open source software, you will need to do some basic installing.  This page offers some elementary and generic information on installing. For more detail, search for the particular program you are interested in.

Installing open source software depends on your operating system. This is a how-to compilation for multiple operating systems; read the appropriate section for your OS.

Linux/Unix/Unix-Like Systems

For most such systems, you can probably use the OSs package manager to install a pre-built binary package.

This is always the recommended method.

Alternatively, you could follow these steps:

  • Download and uncompress the source code.
  • In the terminal, move into the extracted directory.
  • Run “./configure” to configure the software.
  • Run “make” to compile the software.
  • Run “make install” to install the software.

Microsoft Windows

Acknowledge that Windows is not a friend of open source software.

This is also because it does not come with the make build system, so compiling from source code is harder. You will need to install a precompiled version.

  • Go to the project website.
  • Check for ports of the program. Find a port for either Windows or your version of Windows.
  • Download and run the installer.
  • Once installed, shortcuts will likely be created.


  • It is possible to use the make build system on Windows, but it is beyond the scope of this page.
  • Open Source Software is usually in the form of source code, but you may be able to find binaries for your operating system if the build fails.
  • If all else fails, read the README or INSTALL files for instructions.


  • Installing or replacing critical system components can be dangerous. Make sure you know what you are doing.

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