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I'm working a linux machine running CentOS. I don't have full sudo powers and theres multiple versions of python already installed on the machine and the whole thing is a bit of a mess, stuff like numpy doesn't work and I need to install modules which rely on that. I've been doing some reading and it would seem like removing and reinstalling python may lead to bit of a f**k up in the machine.

I was wondering if its possible to just install python (and hopefully R) into my own home directory or something and then install the modules I need into that directory and run what I need from there?

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Yes.

You're right to be wary of upgrading the installed version of python; RH/CentOS is very dependent on it, and can get very upset if you upgrade it underneath the running OS.

On old (C5) boxes, when I needed python 2.6, I often built it to install under /usr/local/python26. If you prefer to do it under your home directory, that should work fine also.

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I can imagine CentOS throwing a temper tantrum screaming "I DON'T WANT TO USE THIS PYTHON VERSION" and tossing packets to and fro. –  Nathan C Jun 20 '13 at 12:40
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You don't know the half of it. Took about 30 minutes to clean the server room ("bring the mops and buckets, for they shall shortly be required"), and some of the ethernet cables remain permanently scarred. Most of the debian-derived systems needed trauma counselling. –  MadHatter Jun 20 '13 at 12:42

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