Installing programs from source without Sudo rights. A case Study: BlueFish

Hi there.
Im currently working on an internship with the Biosystems group, School of Computing University of Leeds. I have learnt many things during my internship and wish to use this blog to share some with you.

I have a background in Python and high level languages and have had to adapt to and learn C++ and C.
I have found it a hard transition so would like to share my experiences with anyone coming from a similar direction to lessen their frustration and pain.
One element of learning C or C++ is that you have to download and compile your own libraries from source, likewise you must do this if you don’t have admin rights. This tutorial aims to help you to be more familiar downloading and installing from source code.


Bluefish is a HTML editor and an example of a program that I wanted to install.

So first off. Installing on my home Ubuntu machine is easy as pie:

sudo apt-get install bluefish

or on Fedora:

sudo yum install bluefish

However when I work on my account at University (a Fedora system) I don’t have sudo.

So to install:

1. Download the source. This can be from svn if you want the very latest version or the latest source release from the program website.

SVN is a very powerful and useful version control system that the developer uses to store the updates he makes allowing you access to cutting edge developments

Example svn checkout command (checks out the latest version):

svn co https://bluefish.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/bluefish/trunk/bluefish

When downloading the release from the site be sure to check that the file hasnt corrupted with the command:

md5sum bluefish-2.0.0.tar.bz2

The output should correlate with the md5sum provided by the developer

For the source release extract the tar.bz into your home directory (I usually use the Nautilus GUI’s right click>extract to do this).

cd into the extracted folder

2. I downloaded the latest release source. So now to configure and install.

In linux ./configure is used to change settings for make, this is how you tell make where your libraries are or where you want it to install to and lots of other useful information.

To see the options available type

./configure –help

Now we can see that the –prefix= command is used to specify the prefix install directory this is what we need to change to install without sudo rights as we do not have rights to install to the default /usr/bin or /bin.

So download the necessary libraries and add them to your PATH (see a later tutorial I may write or google) for how to modify BASH environmental variables.
I next created a local directory in my home folder to store my programs installed from source in. Then run:

./configure –prefix=~/local

The ./configure command generates a new makefile with the settings specified. Now run make, this will build the binaries from the sources.



make install will need to be run next. make install moves the build files to the correct target directory,  somewhere under ~/local. Had we not specified the prefix make install would attempt to write to /bin which would of raised a permissions error.

make install

Bluefish is now successfully installed in ~/local/bin. You now need to add this directory to your PATH to enable you to run the program by typing ‘bluefish’ as opposed to ‘~/local/bin/bluefish’. See google or my later tutorial for details on the environmental variable PATH. The following command will however suffice (run it), it should be added to your ~/.bashrc for the effect to last beyond this session:

export PATH=$PATH:~/local/bin

I hope that you found this guide useful and that you learnt something about building from source in linux. I intend to write more tutorials on similar topics




Let Me Google That For You.
A reflection upon Google and Peter Dickman’s Leeds University talk of 30th April.

Poster for the event. Courtesy of Ben Blundell www.section9.co.uk

Poster for the event. Courtesy of Ben Blundell http://www.section9.co.uk

It was with anticipation I walked to Roger Stevens on Thursday afternoon a familiar and yet consistently weird place. As first year computing students we were informed by a certain member of the department that we ‘have to go to this one‘, a Google talk, a chat from the big hitters, might be interesting. The room was a strange mix, the sheparded undergraduate alongside postgrad and senior staff, something for everyone here.

The size of the beast

Peter himself looked pretty confident and damn right you would be if you’d landed that job. His delivery was constant, and amazing things came out of his mouth at every juncture. “Every 4 hours google crawls more than the whole library of congress“. WOW. The size of the beast began to strike me. A company so big that they have designed their own file system ‘BigTable’, and inhouse programming languages.

Google doesn’t have datacentres, they instead have ‘warehouse computers’, the name change signifying as much about progress in parallelism, scale and networking innovation as lexical horseplay. Indeed Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt is attributed to have said “When the network becomes as fast as the processor, the computer hollows out and spreads across the network.”. In layman’s and geek terms this was pretty impressive stuff.

Google’s has an almost poetic goal of ‘Organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful‘, sounds a pretty selfless and compelling endeavour doesn’t it? However, it wasn’t soon till were reminded of the company’s fortune, the size of which equates to a small African country, there’s gold in them there hills‘. Having conquered somewhat traditional search engine ground, Google has recently been turning its attentions to image, audio, map and interplanetary indexing and searching. Similar images, Audio indexing, Streetview and Google Mars respectively are impressive examples.


A third of our software engineers have PhD’s and MSc’s” Peter informed us, and speaking with apparent sincerity told us how the software engineers (Programmers in plain language) had been programming since they were 5. I soon began to envision some sort of utopian geek meritocracy (Geekocracy if you will). I wasn’t far wrong. Staff get 20% of their time to dedicate to working on new ideas. In this so called ‘Innovation Time’, big software eggs are hatched, apps like Gmail. Adsense and Google Moderator, a tool for deciding which questions should get asked at meetings have their genesis here. Check out googlelabs.com for yourself.


Peter Dickman at the talk. Image provided courtesy of Ben Blundell http://www.section9.co.uk

Google continued to come across as a Valhalla for programmers and IT staff. Google’s network technicians in the field were spoken of heroically traversing inhospitable territory to fix cable breaks. These are the guys that usually get looked down upon as the unplug and plug in the computer guys. Score one for the team. Software Engineers come above managers in the pecking order and their managers exist to get them the tools they need to get the job done. Programmers have the opportunity to work across the whole codebase on any project or application that they like, in fact they are positively encouraged to do so.

The Google way

It becomes clear that part of the explanation Google’s incredible success lies in their differences from traditional corporate business models. The culture of creative engagement of its staff, their sustained passion for continual daily improvement clearly show results. This is the Google ethos, the Google way, the reason my homepage is http://www.google.com and why sometimes when people ask me questions I say “let me google that for you“.



Heya guys,

I just wanted to point you in the direction of one of the greatest sites of all time and one of the more interesting blogs. Been abit busy the last few days deploying an Ubuntu server, setting up Samba, SSH and the like and rewiring phone sockets. I’ll put a nice Ubuntu Server related post up when I’m done but in the mean time…

The Best Page In The Universe

Courtesy of Maddox. Maddox kicks your ass and those of your unborn children, he’s that good.

For all you vegetarians out there ;)

For all you vegetarians out there ;)

Made me laugh so many goddamn times reading those posts over the last few years, would be criminal not to share.

Sharing is caring




The Olympics

Afternoon guys.

Right the Olympics, in China. I didn’t watch any of it. I think its frankly disgusting the way that we go over there and heap praise on the Chinese government… sorry the government of the “People’s Republic of China” whilst they kill their own citizens. Democracy, Republic, Monarchy, none of it really makes any difference when your ‘representatives’ or leaders are Autocrats. I don’t know what the IOC were thinking giving it to them. I mean the event is supposed to inspire kids.

I'd give this man all the medals

This should be the man getting the medals. He's the one who has all the balls.

Having visited Brokep’s blog (A prominent PirateBay member) this week, I have to agree with his sentiments. The Journo’s complained about being subjected to the great firewall of China, plus they blocked Itunes the other week, the people have to endure on a regular basis.

The Olympics though, were basically a showpiece, ‘The West’ didn’t see anything that the Government didn’t want them to. I think people are just forgetting the main point when they engage in the spasmodic Olympic fervour they forsake their fellow humans who are being oppressed. It just shows how easy it is to make the public forget when you wave a shiny spectacle or two in their face. I’m not religious in any way but I consider myself moral and think Kant got it pretty much right when he wrote “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” And I wouldn’t want to live under the conditions the Chinese are subjected to.

Would you?


This wallpaper…

Is actually the best wallpaper in the world. It’s on all of my computers. Everyone at work calls me an old man for using it, but I love Dark Victorian MMmmm.

Available from 5thirtyone.com
in various resolutions.






Firef… erm cat.

So it’s Sunday.

Its raining and Valentino Rossi won the San Marino MotoGP.
Its all abit predictable isnt it?



Hmm well.

Dont you think my cat looks like Firefox?

If only I had a big blue ‘e’…


Concept Place, Leeds. Part2.

Heya again guys. Back after chilli for part 2. Sitting comfortably? :)

Ok so I’m signed up in 615A so Unite dude took us up to have a gander.

You see that door right at the end? Lol. Thats mine.

You see that door right at the end? Lol. Thats mine.


This is the flat. Surrounded by doors (one to the kitchen), It's kinda no man's land here :S

This is my room 615A. Kinda hard to photo all of it, confined.

This is my room 615A. Kinda hard to photo all of it, confined. Really nice though


What with the awesome view and all :P

Sorry. I’m a pretty sarcastic person. It is very nice, lol. I know, lowest form of wit and all that jazz.

I love lamp

I love electricity.

BTW thats an Ethernet CAT 5 network point on the left for connecting to U-Want’s excellent service. Remember what I said about sarcasm, yea. Anyway I work for an ISP and the connection sucks from what I can see here.

Anyway the two sockets (second on the left) are for FM & TV coax I think. Remember your TV licenses, hehe.

Think U-Want offer an IPTV service aswell, doesn’t say price on their site though.

You get a thermostat.

You get a thermostat.

A big bed

A big bed.

A sink, toilet shower combi job

And a sink, toilet shower combi job

OK, kitchen time.

Nice and new. Well everything is...

Nice and new. Well everything is...


Is it just me or can anyone else see a potential dedicated beer and food fridge going on here? :)



OK, back downstairs. Or should i say, the lift. XD.

On the way to laundry room

On the way to laundry room

Cant remember prices.

It smelt...

It smelt...

... of laundry rooms but thats cool.

... of laundry rooms but that's cool.

I mean what else is it going to smell of.

Anyway that’s it.

Hope it helped you out if you’re staying here in the future. If you’re not, it’s abit odd you reading this, but thanks.

Seriously though. Sarcasm aside.

It is a really nice place.

I’ll see all you guys there.

I’ll be the one with Bob Dylan blasting out of the flat, lol.

P.S. 615 is the party flat. :D