Debian App Installs
from '.deb' files

from Debian archive sites

for addition of compatible software to
old Ubuntu, LinuxMint, and other Debian-based distros

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In 2013, I was still running Ubuntu 9.10 (the 2009 October release, 'Karmic Koala') on my main desktop computer as well as a couple of backup desktop computers and a couple of Acer netbook computers.

    I have described those installs via an an Ubuntu Installs web page, written in the 2009 to 2011 time frame.

    In my opinion, Mark Shuttleworth took a wrong turn in the development of Ubuntu releases after 9.10 (and Gnome 3 developers started removing essential functions from Nautilus and the Gnome desktop about the same time). So I am sticking with Ubuntu 9.10 on my main 'productivity' desktop and netbook computers --- until the entire Gnome 3 fiasco and UEFI boot confusion dies down --- circa 2014 or 2015? If necessary, I will probably move to a Linux Mint MATE-based distro.

The 'repos' (repositories) of software for the Ubuntu Karmic release were taken off-line about a year and a half after that release. So I could no longer add new software via the Ubuntu 'Software Center' --- nor via the Synaptic Package Manager --- since the Ubuntu 9.10 'apt-get' based repositories were no longer available.

Occasionally I want to add some software --- for audio or video or image processing, or for network management utilities, or whatever. However, if one tries to install recent 'Deb' packages for those utilities, they often will not work because they require newer 'shared object' files (newer 'lib' utilities) than are available on an old distro.

In fact, if you try to install those newer 'Deb' packages via 'apt' commands or via the 'GDebi Package Installer' GUI (which is available via a right-click on a '.deb' file in the Gnome-Nautilus file manager), the install process will typically halt with messages about some 'requirements' not being available.

You could try to install newer 'dynamically-called, shared libraries', but you risk causing some of your highly-desirable, often-used, currently-installed applications to stop working --- if some older libraries are 'wiped out' (or links are replaced) by the installation of the newer libraries.

So I have found that if I find older '.deb' files for an application --- '.deb' files packaged around the year 2009, for my Ubuntu 9.10 (2009 Oct) operating system, the 'deb' files will usually install without problem --- and work fine, since the executables for the '.deb' file are compatible with the dynamically-called 'lib' utilities of Ubuntu 9.10.

For example, on one of my Acer netbooks that I use a lot (in front of my TV set, to use the time productively during the god-awful abundance of commercials on cable TV nowadays), I found that I had never installed the 'mplayer' video player --- nor the 'gnome-mplayer' GUI for Mplayer. I found appropriate '.deb' files on a Debian software archive site ( and installed them via 'GDebi Package Installer'.

I describe the process in more detail below. This process should work to add software to almost any old Debian-based distro --- such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, or Debian itself.

For background info on these distros, here are links to the Wikipedia page for each of the distros :

Finding appropriate '.deb' files :

There are many sites with '.deb' files, but to find old '.deb' files --- compatible with an old Debian-based Linux distro --- I have found the web site to be the best. Not only are there '.deb' files available there going back to 2005 or before, but it is clearly marked (at the download links) when each '.deb' file was packaged.

One disadvantage of the site is that it does not give you an idea of what packages are available in various software categories --- Image Processing, Audio utilities, Video utilities, etc. You usually need the name of the specific package that you want --- examples: 'mplayer' or 'gnome-mplayer' --- in order to use the alphabetic categories or the search-field of the '' web site.

So if you know you need an image/audio/video/whatever utility and you know the basic functions that you want but you do not know the specific package that you want, a web site that shows Linux apps by category will be of help. Here are a few 'Linux app finder' sites that might help.

If the '' site does not have a '.deb' file for the app that you want, you could try the '' site. Packages that were built up to six or more years ago are typically available at that site.

Since the packages at '' are basically the same as the packages at '', you could use '' as an alternative to ''. However, Ubuntu seems to 'retire' their packages a lot sooner than Debian does.

I would never recommend downloading a '.deb' file from any old site. The '' and '' and '' sites are relatively trustworthy sites.

Downloading a '.deb' file :

Go to the web site. You can use the 'binary file' search field to enter the name of the package that you want --- for example, 'mplayer'.

On the 'mplayer' downloads version-selection page, choose a version that corresponds to the release date of your Linux distro --- for example, an early 2009 version for Ubuntu 9.10 (2009 Oct).

Note that the version numbers on that selection page may not include a date. Click on various version numbers, and, in the download page that comes up in your web browser, look at dates beside links on the download page. If those dates are not near the release date of your distro, go back to the versions page and click on another version --- until you find a download page with appropriate package dates.

    Note that you can push the envelope some --- for example, if you want to try for a slightly newer version of the app which may still be compatible with the various 'shared libraries' in your Linux installation. Since Debian comes out with new Linux releases on approximately a 2 to 3 year cycle, where as Debian-based distros like Ubuntu and Linux Mint come out with new releases every 6 months, those Ubuntu and Linux Mint releases may be using the same 'shared object libraries' over about 4 to 6 releases.

    Note also, however, that somewhat newer is not always best. There may b 'regressions' in newer releases that disable functions that you need to use. As an example, witness what is going on with Gnome 3 in the 2010-2013 time frame as the Gnome 3 developers 'drop' function after function --- either on purpose or via neglect.

When you have found the '.deb' files download page that you want, go to the '.deb' download link for the appropriate machine type --- examples: i386, ia64, or amd64 in the filename of the '.deb' file.

When you find the link that you want, right-click on the link and choose 'Save Link Target As ...' (or a similarly named function) in the right-click menu of your web browser.

Download typically occurs within a couple of seconds.

When I am saving the '.deb' file, I usually change the suffix from '.deb' to '_snapshot-debian-org-yyyymmm.deb' --- so that I know from where I got the download --- especially if I am not going to use the '.deb' file right away. (The 'yyyymmm' represents a year and month indicating when the '.deb' file was packaged --- if there is no date already in the '.deb' filename.)

Typically I save the '.deb' file to a 'DOWNLOADS' directory in my home directory.

Installing a '.deb' file :

In a file manager like Nautilus, navigate to the download directory and right-click on the '.deb' file. Choose the option 'Open with Gdebi Package Installer' from the popup menu.

After about 10 seconds of processing, a popup may appear that advises that a more recent version is available. (We may already know that. We actually want to install an older version.) Dismiss that popup window and click on the 'Install Package' button.

You will then see a list of requirements to be installed. You may be advised that one or more of the requirements are 'unauthenicated'. You will have to accept them in order to proceed with the install.

You will get a prompt for the root password. Supply it and the installation starts. You can click on the 'Details' button if you want to watch install messages in the install window.

Installation typically completes within about 10 seconds to a minute, depending on the complexity of the package. You will get a notification at the top of the Gdebi window that installation is complete.

You can open a terminal window to check if the main program was installed. Command examples for 'mplayer':

    which mplayer

would typically show


And typing 'mplayer' at the command prompt will show about 30 lines of how-to-use info from 'mplayer'.

Command examples for 'gnome-mplayer':

    which gnome-mplayer

would typically show


And typing 'gnome-mplayer' at the command prompt will bring up the little gnome-mplayer GUI.

Conclusion :

So there you have it. That is how I have found that I can add software to my old Ubuntu (or Linux Mint) distro installs for which software respositories are no longer avaiable from the Ubuntu (or Linux Mint) web sites.

For my/your convenience, there follows a list of links to version pages of binary (pre-compiled) packages of 'handy apps' ---- at

These are apps that I have either installed in my various Linux (Ubuntu and Linux Mint) installs on about 8 different computers --- or apps that I considered installing and may install someday in the future.


3D tools :


AUDIO tools :

CALENDAR tools :

  • iceowl (based on mozilla-sunbird, 'rebranded')

CD-DVD tools :

CHAT tools (text based) :   (and optional plugins for audio-video or audio)

EDITORS (text) :

EMAIL clients :


  • Nautilus (of the Gnome desktop environment)

  • Caja (of the MATE desktop environment)
    (Not available at in early 2013)

FTP clients :

IMAGE/PHOTO processing tools :

NETWORK-packet tools :

OFFICE tools :

PDF tools :

PHONE tools :   (Audio Chat with Video)

PRINT/SCAN tools :

TERMINALS :   (for the command line)

VIDEO tools :


A note on rebranding of Mozilla products by Debian
as a result of a Mozilla-Debian dispute.

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Page created 2013 Apr 08. Changed 2013 Apr 21.

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