Tarballs are the standard, and are common with file extensions such as ".tar.gz" or ".tar.bz2". This is the generic, distribution-free method of distribution software packages in the Linux world. However, tarballs are not very user-friendly; for example, to get a tarball from the Internet running, one might have to issue the following commands from the command line in a shell,
# bunzip2 myapp.tar.bz2
# tar -xvpf myapp.tar
# cd myapp
# make install
This is a tedious task, and involves getting the software to compile before being able to run. If know-how is lacking, this method will also cause a lot of grief, as sometimes during the "configure" stage, dependencies to get it running aren't met.
This is the aim of package management formats like RPM and DEB - to ease the burden of dependency resolution, so that the end-user will just install the software with ease, and if dependencies are required, they get installed along.
You are reading
Linux Tutorial: Packaging, Updating, and Installing
2. Keeping Up-To-Date
3. Installing New Packages