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Do not force Debian Package Management
One of the most common new-Debian-user mistakes involves forcing packages to install. Do not do this unless you know exactly how it affects everything else. Instead, research the problem first (ie., search the archives at lists.debian.org), and if you can't find a solution, ask in firstname.lastname@example.org (try debian-user first if there's no better list related to your problem). Do not install an application from source tarballs (blah.tar.gz or .tgz) expecting Debian packages to use it properly (use deb-src packages instead, or dump it into /usr/local). Debian packages often have Debian-specific bits; packages that depend on other packages will likely depend on the Debian-specific bits as well.
- Installing a program from source into /usr/local is encouraged, so long as no Debian packages depend on that program, and it doesn't mess with anything outside /usr/local. The packaging system pretty much ignores /usr/local, by design.
- When installing a program from source into /usr/local, consider using stow or checkinstall.
- If you really want to install a program from source, but other Debian packages depend on that program, have a look at the 'equivs' package.
Consider building a Debian package of the program. You don't need to be a Debian Developer to port packages to Debian (but you will need to learn about non-maintainer uploads; see Developer's Reference, section 5.11).
- Use apt-get, aptitude, synaptic, dselect, or another dpkg frontend. dpkg itself should be reserved for admins who are familiar with Debian installations (and know how to climb out of holes they've dug themselves into).
If you do mess with package management, don't expect any of the package managemet tools to work any more Debian is very sensitive to its package database being up-to-date and correct.
Tips are sub-categorized as follows;
PackageInstallTips - installing and upgrading individual packages.
MiscInstallTips - other misc installation tips