I’ve shied away from compiling my own stuff in the past, due to the fact that I never knew what development-libraries are required by each application.


Well I still don’t know, but it doesn’t matter anymore. If you’re on Ubuntu or Debian, all you have to do is this:

apt-get build-dep $application

and the required libraries will be downloaded and installed on your system ($application is the name of the app you’re trying to compile (e.g. firefox)). The caveat being that in order to automagically download the libraries, the given application must be available through a specified repository. In the case of Firefox, this is not a problem. If you’re trying to compile something esoteric or brand-new, you’re back to sifting through the configure-log. But hey, it’s a start.

To recap (explicit version):

1. Download source code of $application
2. tar xvf $application.tar.gz
2. apt-get build-dep $application (sudo... if you're on Ubuntu)
3. cd $application
4. ./configure (or follow instructions in README- or INSTALL-file)
5. make
6. make install (sudo... if you're on Ubuntu)

(The picture above was taken in Berlin, near Schlesisches Tor)