Linux Gazette: Use the Source, Luke: Compiling and installing from source codeJan 30, 2000, 16:36 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Sean Lamb)
"One of the greatest strengths of the Open Source movement is the availability of source code for almost every program. This article will discuss in general terms, with some examples, how to install a program from source code rather than a precompiled binary package. The primary audience for this article is the user who has some familiarity with installing programs from binaries, but isn't familiar with installing from source code. Some knowledge of compiling software is helpful, but not required."
"Although it may not be entirely obvious, the first thing that you will need to do to install a program from source code is to get the source code. While there are several excellent ftp archives, often I've had better luck downloading and installing code from individual project homepages...."
"Most of the source code packages available for download are distributed as "tarballs". That is, all of the files required to compile and install the application are included in one archive file created with the archiving program tar. Since tar does not perform any compression on the files, merely joins them together under a single file name, the tarball is usually run through a compression program like gzip or bzip before it is distributed. Uaually[sic], such an archive will have a tgz file extension. For the benefit of readers who have just switched from a Windows platform, the combination of these two actions (archive and compression) is very similar to PKZip or WinZip."