Are compilations created equal?
My first post; I can't figure out where I should put it - apologies in advance for a misdirected inquiry.
To the programmers out there:
I've got a question regarding the compiling of software. Although I took a few courses in college, I am definitely not a programmer and certainly not knowledgeable about the inner workings of computers. I am fairly new to Linux having tried Ubuntu for less than a year now ... but finding that it seems to be a better system - the best descriptor I can give is to analogously call it "sturdier feeling" than Windows - toss in the "free factor" and it becomes pretty compelling. So instead of my Ubuntu installation being a mere stopgap measure I find I'm going to want to use it more. And that likely will mean installing some out-of-the-mainstream software.
One area that is scary to a new Linux user is the compiling of software. Sooner or later, though, one will want something not available in the software repositories. My first experience with this was the latest iteration of the VLC media player, which, not being in the Ubuntu repository, had to be "compiled from source," as the lingo has it. I found somewhat to my surprise that this wasn't too terribly difficult, but rather extremely tedious, as the "./configure" command had to be run many many times, in between which I got another library file from Synaptic. But at least the error messages were intelligible! I got it done and now have a .deb file as a result.
My question is: If I compile from a source, and you compile from that same source but use your machine rather than mine, will our resulting .deb files be basically identical? And would this be the same as a Debian package one might download with that same .deb extension? If not, how are those Debian packages different? I ask because it would seem to me that if they are essentially the same file, it would behoove me to save it in case I ever want to install it on another machine, or share with a friend or whatever.
(FYI for the curious: I was hoping that the newest VLC media player would play VCD's on my laptop. But it won't, so I haven't really gotten what I was looking for in the compilation exercise! Whether that's VLC's fault or my machine's problem, I don't know.)
Anyway, I'd like either an explanation to this or a suggestion as to where I might find it. There's no need in getting too deep into computerese, as that would be beyond my grasp anyway. And thanks to all who took the time to read this!