How to Use Linux:Problems You'll Face Using Linux Offline and Solutions

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Hate theory? Go straight to solutions

Using Linux Operating System can be a real headache for early beginners when they are not connected to Internet. So I am writing this article covering major problems faced when one has to install software on an offline Linux machine and solutions to them.
When I first met Linux, thing I was screaming for was, where to find the setups of software. As I used to do in Windows, downloading and saving software setups for future installs is quite handy than downloading it every time. But it is hard to do this in Linux for a number of reasons.

  1. Many so called user-friendly Linux Distributions like Ubuntu come without software people (new to Linux) expect preinstalled e.g. Ubuntu come without mp3 plugins and other codecs. So when offline, it is really irritating when one can’t even play his/her favorite music. These include a large number of files which are hard to fetch manually.
  2. Most software are available as source-codes packages on their websites to download and not in binaries. 
  3. Even when it is possible to download .deb/.rpm packages and install them, as Linux uses a shared library system, most packages have lots of dependencies which have to be built and installed before main software. Downloading and building all the dependencies and main software in right order can be a real headache at times.
  4. Source codes are tough to compile for novices and if even they can compile, uninstalled dependencies come in the way.


How to install software on an Offline Linux machine:


Solutions here are focused on Debian based Linux Operating Systems like Ubuntu and other Debian/Ubuntu derivatives.

The main idea is to install or download software on a machine connected to internet and then somehow carry them to the offline computer. Package managers of GNU/Linux distributions like apt-get do a very nice job of downloading and installing software ’with’ their dependencies, and we are going to use their power for our purpose (installing software on offline Linux machine).

  1. Manually copying software installed using apt-get: Software installed on a system through apt-get, aptitude or synaptic etc are saved on hard disk. This method involve manually copy them and installing them on offline machine. However this method is not recommended for novices.
      Install software on Linux system connected to Internet.
     Copy software from apt archives ( var/cache/apt/archives ) to usb drive etc.
     Carry software on offline machine and paste them there.
     Install software using packet managers ( Synaptic recommended).
  2. Using Aptoncd: Aptoncd is a software developed for automating above stated process of backing up software downloaded and installed  using apt-get, and it do this job very well. It is a very nice software with nice GUI interface and easy to use for beginners.
     Open Aptoncd
     Create iso image of apt archives directory
     Burn it to CD/DVD
     Restore to offline computer
    Install all packages using one command
               sudo dpkg -i /var/cache/apt/archieves/*.deb
       
  3. Using Keryx: Keryx is a portable, cross platform offline package manager for Debian based Linux distributions (Ubuntu and derivatives). It works on a different principle. Keryx Download software on computer connected to internet (it may be on Linux or Windows) and then install them to offline PC.
    ⇒ Extract Keryx to a USB drive
    ⇒ 
    First run Keryx on the offline Linux machine where it make a profile about the Linux  Distribution and software installed on it.
    ⇒ Then run it on Computer with Internet connection (it may be Windows or Linux) where you  can select and download software.
    This method is 
    highly recommended for novices/ beginners as it involve very little manual work. Read complete Keryx tutorial here.
  4. Using Remastersys\Create Custom Live disk: This is my favorite method for backups as I frequently reinstall my Operating System(s) ( I have my reasons). This method involve using a script called Remastersys for making a bootable disk from a system already installed with Debian/Ubuntu/derivatives. In this process all the software installed on the machine also get included in the disk prepared with Remastersys. This is a brilliant method highly recommended for novices.
    ⇒ Run Remastersys GUI
    ⇒ Follow the instructions (choose dist option)
    ⇒ Copy iso image of your custom Live CD/DVD from /usr/home/remastersys/remastersys
    ⇒ Burn it to disk or make a live USB using Unetbootin
    ⇒ 
    Install newly born custom Linux Distribution to offline PC 
But as with everything in life, all solutions have their own cons, pros and side effects. It is recommended to read each their tutorials (follow given links) for details.
If I am missing something here, or something I have written wrong, suggestions are more than welcome.



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