Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a SSH Login to a dev computer (used for hosting PHP and Python files). It has vim installed, but a stripped down version of it - it has syntax and whole lot of other stuff disabled .

So, my question is - can I install my own "local" vim without a superuser account?

share|improve this question
What kind of OS (or distro) is this? Are you sure it's disabled? What does ":version" say? – Keith Jan 3 '11 at 0:35
I'm on CentOS5.5 (according to /etc/issue), or Red Hat 4.1.2-4.6 (according to /proc/version). Yeah, I'm sure it's disabled - I used :version to check it – German Rumm Jan 3 '11 at 0:46
So you're sure the sysadmin can't take 2 seconds to type yum install vim-enhanced ? – Keith Jan 3 '11 at 1:34
@Keith, my thoughts exactly. I'm on Ubuntu myself and use package manager exclusively. But our sysadmin apparently doesn't trust repositories, or prefers building from source - because even asking him to reconfigure PHP meets strong resistance. – German Rumm Jan 3 '11 at 8:26
up vote 4 down vote accepted
  1. Download Vim
  2. Change the prefix:
    1. When compiling, use the option --prefix=/home/myaccount (or whatever you want), or
    2. Edit the prefix option in src/makefile to something like /home/myaccount or just $(HOME) (thanks Heptite!)
  3. When you run make install, it will install the files using the prefix you specified (e.g. binaries will be installed to /home/myaccount/bin)
  4. Change your prefix to include /home/myaccount/bin in .bash_profile or .profile.
  5. Success!!
share|improve this answer
While most sources prefer you to run configure by hand, the preferred way to do this kind of thing for Vim is to edit the src/Makefile and change the "prefix" variable to something like $(HOME) – Heptite Jan 2 '11 at 23:06
@Heptite Thanks! I added your comment into my answer. – squircle Jan 2 '11 at 23:27
Thanks, @thepurplepixel, I tried your solution and it almost worked, but ./configure complains about missing terminal library. I installed ncurses5 using --prefix and tried running vim's configure again, but it still complains. I tried --with-tlib option and without – German Rumm Jan 2 '11 at 23:37
@German I don't know that much about it... maybe somebody else can help. – squircle Jan 2 '11 at 23:59
@German Rumm: You need to tell Vim's configure where to find your ncurses installation. Execute export CPPFLAGS="-I/ncursesprefix/include" and export LDFLAGS="-L/ncursesprefix/lib", where /ncursesprefix is the prefix you used to build ncurses. You may need to add the option --with-tlib=ncurses to Vim's configure options. Doing so anyway won't hurt. Then running ./configure ... and make should build Vim with your ncurses library. @Heptite: How is modifying src/Makefile the "preferred" method of changing the prefix? I've always used ./configure --prefix=.... – garyjohn Jan 3 '11 at 1:04

Maybe copying a binary to the server and chmoding it to executable?

Perhaps you should contect your sysadmin or host to see if they can enable these features for you.

share|improve this answer
Nope, tried that, complains about missing libraries/shared objects. Can't ask sysadmin - he's lazy and kinda stupid (installing svn for 2 months already) – German Rumm Jan 2 '11 at 23:06

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.