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I have a few Linux servers that lack necessary sudo or root permissions, and I'm feeling kind of stuck with my options:

  • hand-compile packages to a ~/local/ folder or some equivalent
  • work with sysadmins to get some old version of whatever tool I'm wanting installed, likely never to be upgraded again
  • try to roll my own homebrew, not having a clue how to do it

Is there something for a user in my limited state to be able to locally compile and install various localized applications in the same way I use homebrew on my personal Mac at home?

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migrated from serverfault.com Feb 7 '12 at 21:02

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

Some sysadmins are surprisingly helpful and reasonable. Are you sure that choice 2 is as gloomy as you make it sound? – larsks Feb 7 '12 at 21:21
What distro are you using? Some of the package management systems (e.g., rpm) allow you to create your own rpm database, and install the packages into ~/local/ – cjc Feb 7 '12 at 21:40
I believe it's the Oracle branded Red Hat linux, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but I can't be sure. I wouldn't know about whether that's possible, but I'm interested to know what you're talking about that I might look to that. – Nick Klauer Feb 8 '12 at 19:25
@larsks I wish they were more helpful, but I'm reaching out here because I've run out of options and patience working with them so far. They've given me an OS install that is only as large as the OS itself, with a separately mounted /opt/user directory to install and run all my other applications, and getting access to apt, rpm, etc., raises all sorts of flags for them. I'd honestly expected a standardized "web box" or something for what I'm needing, but they won't support tooling outside of the OS, so I'm left to fend and manage my own apps. – Nick Klauer Feb 8 '12 at 19:34
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Do you know pkgsrc? It's a framework (using Makefiles and some pkg_* tools) for compiling packages that also facilitates non-root building of packages (and their dependencies) very much.

So, referring to your choices, it's the "homebrew" thing but already built and proven, with lots of packages. There's a guide, too. (While it looks kinda NetBSD-specific, it's not and should work just as well on Linux.)

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I've not heard of that tool before, and I will look into it for sure. – Nick Klauer Feb 8 '12 at 19:35
I will use this. This seems to cover everything I need to get bootstrapped, and I'm pretty happy with it. It has some interface issues (i.e. not the simplest to figure out for a layperson unix user), but all in all I like it. – Nick Klauer Mar 1 '12 at 20:59
I keep forgetting about nix which possibly also fits this niche (albeit being very different from pkgsrc). – sr_ Mar 7 '12 at 11:20
I had not heard of nix. I will have to check that out as well. Thanks. – Nick Klauer Mar 8 '12 at 13:37

EasyBuild might meet your needs: https://github.com/hpcugent/easybuild

Here's a demo, an installation of a package as a non-root user: https://github.com/pdurbin/easybuild-vagrant

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Linuxbrew is exactly a Homebrew equivalent for Linux. It may not have existed when the OP asked the question, but it does now and it works very well.

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If what your trying to do is limit user access to certain commands, then why dont you configure or have the admin configure the proper sudo configuration that limits your linux users to the executables you want and restrict the rest.

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What he's trying to do is install software packages without root access, e.g., to a local home directory, but in a more manageable fashion than just compiling and install them by hand with make install. – larsks Feb 7 '12 at 21:20

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