This document describes the basic steps involved in installing software on a personal computer. It's a very generalized procedure, and applies to installing any compiled software from any vendor on any operating system. Not all software installations will require all of the steps, and some operating systems and utilities automate some of the steps, but understanding each phase of an installation is helpful in understanding the process as a whole. Always be sure to read any specific instructions from the software vendor, distribution system, or your system administrator.
Do contact the HelpDesk with any questions about any specific installation you may undertake. Remember: This process is for stand-alone personal computers (student machines, and personal office machines). Systems at LTS public sites operate slightly differently, and a bit more automatically -- see Installing Lehigh Software on Public Sites for more details.
Acquire the Installation Media
Software is distributed in many forms, but one way or another an electronic file or set of files needs to make its way to your computer. These files can be downloaded from vendor websites, software repositories, distributed on disks or other electronic media.
At Lehigh, installation media for a number of programs are available from Lehigh University Install Software pages (a.k.a 'LUIS').
Files downloaded from websites generally end up either on your computer's desktop or in the 'Downloads' folder of your user profile.
Access the Installation Media
Installation media can consist of a number of different things. In a few cases, the desired program itself is simply a single, uncompressed file that needs only to be copied to any place on your hard drive and run.
More commonly, though, installation media consists of either a large, self-extracting archive file that holds a folder with many files, or a disk image file that represents a virtual 'CD' or 'DVD' with an included setup program. In either of those cases, you'll need to 'unpack' the archive, or 'mount' the disk image in order to open them, and access the files inside.
For files with an ".exe" ending, you simply double-click to run them. For archive files like '.zip' files, you'll need to right-click and select 'Extract All' to uncompress the enclosed folder. For '.iso' disk image files you may need a utility like 'Virtual Clone Drive' to mount them (Windows 7 only -- Windows 10 and Mac OS can double-click to open). Mac software often comes in '.dmg' files, which the Mac OS opens with a double-click. Examples are listed below:
- Stand-Alone Executable -- "MobaXterm_Professional_9.4.exe" (SSH Client)
- Archives -- Standard: "ANSYS_161_PRODUCTPDFDOC.zip" (ANSYS Instructions), and Self-Extracting: "Dev-Cpp 5.11 TDM-GCC 4.9.2 Setup.exe (Bloodshed C++ installer)"
- Disk Images -- MatlabR2016bWin64.iso, MATLAB_R2016B_LU.dmg (Matlab Installation Disks)
Run the Installation Program
Most installation media, once mounted or unpacked, generally contains a folder with a program called something like 'Setup.exe', but often have longer, more detailed names. Many self-extracting archive programs run this automatically after 'unpacking' their files, but others don't. Check the individual instructions to make sure you run the right setup program, if it's required.
These are usually interactive 'wizards' with default answers to questions like 'Select the Installation Directory:' or "Would you like a 'Typical' or 'Custom' installation?". Again, refer to the vendor's or LTS's notes on the subject if you're at all unsure.
Start the Software and Configure Licensing
Many software programs set up user preferences or require licensing when they're run for the first time. Most programs provide desktop shortcuts or start menu icons for starting the installed program.
Here again, vendor-provided instructions or LTS instructions on the software page will direct you to enter the proper codes, license server names, and any other parameters.