Generally it is better to use packages, so why have this HOWTO? Ubuntu 9.04's Erlang package is missing Jinterface, but it works when you build Erlang from source. Debian or Ubuntu will address this omission at some point. Until then we can build and install the latest Erlang release fairly easily.
The only real frustration in building from source is making sure all of the necessary build dependencies are installed first. Well, it also takes a significant chunk of time to build...
sudo apt-get install build-essential libncurses-dev \ unixodbc-dev libssl-dev \ libwxgtk2.8-dev default-jdk curl http://erlang.org/download/otp_src_R13B01.tar.gz tar xzvf otp_src_R13B01.tar.gz cd otp_src_R13B01/ ./configure make sudo make install
The make step takes a long time. It made me really appreciate the pre-built packages I can get so easily and quickly with APT.