What is a package manager? #
Much of the software that is mentioned on this website includes package manager installation instructions, if they are available. But what is a package manager? Essentially, it is a piece of software that lets us easily and conveniently download and install applications (known as packages), and keep those packages up to date.
You might be asking, “why would I want to use a package manager?”. The biggest advantage of a package manager is the convenience. For example, installing FFmpeg manually can be a difficult process. Especially when you have to repeat the installation process on every computer you want to use. But with a package manager, a single command can get you up and running in no time at all:
> choco install ffmpeg
That means less time fussing around with installations, and more time for you to focus on the things that matter. Besides FFmpeg, there are many useful software packages that are commonly used for ecoacoustics which can be installed with package managers.
The other great thing about package managers is that they can sometimes take care of your PATH variable. This functionality means that programs you install will be available and ready to use directly from the terminal.
Get started #
The type of package manager you use will depend on your operating system. We
Chocolatey on Windows, and
Homebrew on macOS. If you’re using Linux, each variant will
have their own package manager, such as apt, yum, or snap. Once you’re up and
running, it is easy to install packages with a command in your terminal. But
remember that each package manager has their own commands, which tells the
package manager to look for and install a piece of software. If you try to run
choco install ffmpeg on macOS, this will not work. Refer to the relevant
documentation pages for your package manager if you are ever unsure.