Sometimes you are forced to compile packages from source because they are not present in your current distribution's package format, which can be really annoying. While this is the safer option, there is also a quicker alternative, which is converting existing packages into the one you need with alien.
sudo apt-get install alien
Before you use it, make sure to have read the alien man page!
If you're on Ubuntu for example and need a package that is only available in the rpm format, power your terminal and convert the package (the following is available as deb, it's just an example):
sudo alien clementine-1.0.1-1.fc16.x86_64.rpm
The package will then be converted. There are a few points that you should be aware of though:
- Dependencies of converted packages will not be resolved. If you install it anyway, your update manager may notice the missing dependencies and install them however.
- It is not recommended to use alien for critical packages. The man page gives further info on that.