Skip to content

How to install without root access

When using Linux systems, the user account does not typically have root access, and cannot be used to install to standard system-wide directories such as /usr/local. If your user account has appropriate permissions, you may be able to simply use sudo when installing. If not, follow the instructions here, which will set you up to install in your home directory instead.

Assuming that you are using bash, add the following lines to your .bashrc or .bash_profile file:

export PATH=$HOME/bin:$PATH
export CPATH=$HOME/include:$CPATH

Restart your terminal or type su - $USER to login again and restart your environment. You can now install Birch to your home directory:

./configure --prefix=$HOME
make -j 8
make install

The --prefix=$HOME is the key ingredient here. You now have a local installation of Birch in your $HOME/bin directory, rather than a system-wide directory. To check that this is the case, run which birch and confirm that the version installed in your home directory is reported.

The BIRCH_PREFIX environment variable set in your .bashrc or .bash_profile file above will ensure that Birch installs packages into your home directory by default too.


This setup works for just about anything else you might like to install as well. It is not specific to Birch.