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files automatically download to Download. Is that where I should have it when I extract and install?
What do you download the files with? firefox? There is an option for that,just have a look at the settings.
You can extract and install files anywhere you want
What program are you trying to extract and install? Some programs may belong in /home, while others may be better off in /opt, it all depends. If you bring up the File Manager and go to the correct folder, a right click will usually give you the opportunity to extract the file, giving you the choice of where you want to extract it.
In addition to what GoinEasy9 wrote, you can do it via terminal. If you just want to extract something in the same directory you can type:
tar xvf myfile.tar
tar zxvf myfile.tar.gr
tar xjvf myfile.tar.bz2
If you want to extract to another directory, you just type:
tar -C /path/to/destination/ xvf myfile.tar etc.
tar -C /path/to/destination/ xvf myfile.tar
Welcome to our beloved Linux,
tar xvf $FILENAME
Should work for any kind of file/compression used