Linux Software you won't find on your Software Center: Install Google Chrome, Google Earth and Skype
Our Linux distributions have come a long way from the days that we had to manually install anything we needed by compiling it on the terminal to the modern days of the fancy Software Centers that offer collections of applications with ratings, screenshots and one-click install functionality. No matter how rich with software these tools are though, there are still some popular tools that millions of people use that you won't find in application centers of any distro. These are some 3rd party software that are usually proprietary and can't be included in Linux distributions repositories for multiple legal and functional issues. Here's a guide on how to install the most common of these examples.
Chrome is the world's most widely used web browser, so getting it installed in your Linux distribution is imperative for most people out there. Although you'll find other popular choices like Firefox in the Software Center and you'll also have the choice of Chromium which is Chrome's open source brother that doesn't offer built-in PDF viewer (and a few other things), you won't find Chrome unless you visit the official download page. Chrome is available as .deb or .rpm package in 32 or 64 bit architecture.
To install the deb file, open a terminal in the destination of the downloaded file and enter the following command: sudo dpkg -i package_name.deb (package name=google-chrome-stable_current_i386 for the 32 bit or google-chrome-stable_current_amd64 for the 64-bit package).
Or download and install Chrome on the shell like this:
sudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb
Respectively, to install the rpm file you can use the following command: sudo arp -i package_name.rpm
sudo rpm -i google-chrome-stable_current_x86_64.rpm
Note that if there are any dependencies that are not satisfied, these commands won't work. In this case, you will have to open the packages using your distribution's default package manager and the dependencies will be hopefully resolved automatically.
Google's Earth is another example of a very popular software utility that you won't find in your distribution's repositories. You can download it in .deb or .rpm package for 32 or 64-bit systems from this webpage. The same commands used for Google Chrome apply here as well. Contrary to the Chrome case, there is unfortunately no serious open source alternative to Google Earth, except for maybe Nasa's World Wind which isn't released for Linux anyway (but works through Java).
The third case of software you'll almost certainly need but won't find in your Software Center is Skype. The world's most popular Voice over IP program can't be included in distributions due to legal issues, so you have to download it yourself from here. It comes in deb and rpm files which can be installed along the same lines that I previously described, with the note that if you find that your distribution is a newer version that those indicated on Skype's website give it a try. The installation will most probably work just fine no matter the outdated packages. If you're facing a problem though, there is also the choice of downloading the tar.bz2 file indicated as “Dynamic”. This will need no compilation to work, as it is just a compressed folder with the binary file inside. All you need to do is open a terminal in the download destination and give the following command to untar/extract the file into a folder:
tar xvjf skype-126.96.36.199.tar.bz2