Installing the Opera Browser on Ubuntu Linux

I have said many times how much I like the Opera web browser. I generally keep it loaded and use it as my preferred browser, on all of my systems.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

I have said many times how much I like the Opera web browser. I generally keep it loaded and use it as my preferred browser, on all of my systems. However, I have not written about how to install it and keep it up to date for quite a while so here we go...

First, on Ubuntu (including the Netbook Edition and Kubuntu), Opera does not appear in the standard Package Manager list, and it doesn't even appear in the "Ubuntu Software Center". That's unfortunate, and I don't understand it - perhaps there is some political or personal reason behind it, but it seems a silly and unnecessary omission to me. So if you want Opera on "real" Ubuntu distributions, you'll have to find and install it yourself. Some Ubuntu derivatives include Opera, either in the standard base distribution or in their Package list. Linux Mint, which I use, does this, so it was quite easy to install there. But for the Ubuntu installations, it took a bit more effor...

The first, easiest, but sub-optimal way to install Opera is to simply go to the Opera web page. Front and center on that page there will be a button that says "Download Opera for Linux" (or whatever operating system you are using). Click that, then install the package that gets downloaded, and you're ready to go. An Opera icon will be added to your "Internet" and/or "Browsers" menu, and you can add that icon to your panel and/or desktop as you like. This will work for Ubuntu (including the Netbook Edition), Kubuntu and Xubuntu, at least. I have not tried it on the other distributions and community re-mixes, but I assume it will work on them as well.

But as I said, this is sub-optimal. Why? Because it installs a one-time snapshot of the current Opera version. The next time Opera is updated, you are left behind and you'll have to repeat this download and install. That's not a lot of work, but it is not necessary. The alternative is to add the Opera "debian" repository to your software sources, and then install it using the package manager. Once you have done this, the update manager will keep it up to date for you. Much nicer.

Adding the Opera repository will require two steps - add it to the list, and import the key. Although all of the documentation I have seen describing this says "add the repository then import the key", I find it a bit easier to do it the other way around - import the key first. Then, when you add the repository, the package manager can update the package list successfully, rather than complain about not being able to read the Opera repository. So, the first thing to do is open a terminal window, and enter this command:

wget -O - http://deb.opera.com/archive.key | sudo apt-key add -

You should see some commentary as the wget command retrieves the key, and it should end with a simple "OK" from the apt-key command importing it. Once that is done, you can add the repository. The simple way to do that is to edit /etc/apt/sources.list, but if you know how to do that you don't need me to tell you about it... The GUI way to do it, on Ubuntu, is to go to System / Administration / Synaptic Package Manager, then Settings / Repositories. Select the "Other Software" tab, and click "Add...", and enter this for the APT line:

deb http://deb.opera.com/opera lenny non-free

Then click "Add Source". Once you have done that, you can click "Close" and Synaptic will tell you that it needs to update its repository lists. Since you have cleverly already added the Opera key, you can go ahead and let it do that now. By the way, if you get some strange error messages when it tries to refresh the repository list, it is probably because Synaptic got ambitious and "automatically" added a second line for the Opera source repository, and didn't get it right. You can delete that line, then let it update again.

Once the repository reload is complete you can simply type Opera in the Quick search bar, and it should come up in the Package List. Hooray!

For those who have the Ubuntu Netbook Edition, 10.04, the procedure is basically the same, although the "System" tab is on the left side of the screen rather than on the top panel. For Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10, select "Applications" on the left side of the screen, then "System" at the top, and then "Synaptic Package Manager" (or Synaptic P... Manager), and then follow the instructions above. Oh, and the terminal (to add the key) is also under "Applications", then "Accessories".

For those who have Kubuntu, go to "System Settings", then "Software Management" and "Settings". Click "Edit Origins" at the bottom right of the screen, then the rest of the procedure is as described above.

This entire procedure takes 5 minutes or less. Try it. You might like Opera a lot.

jw 15/10/2010

Editorial standards