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Every cluster of computers I've encountered suffers from the same problem: its software is outdated. Naturally, one has the ability as a user to install everything from source in the home directory. I was wondering if there are any tools that would allow one to install and update software within home directory the same way package managers do in Linux distributions, i.e. with minimal pain and effort.

I have found toast, which is good, but not always reliable and up-to-date. Are there alternatives?

My particular needs at the moment are a recent version of GCC, boost, python, cmake.

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Check out nixos ; it also does some fun stuff with allowing multiple versions of anything and everything to be installed simultaneously.

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Of course ideally you could convince your cluster administrators to update software for you, but I realize that in an academic setting this isn't always possible.

You may want to look at the Gentoo Prefix project. It basically allows you to install a full-fledged Gentoo Linux system somewhere other than /, and without requiring root access. Then you would have full access to the portage package management system and all of its packages.

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Is there a way in Gentoo Prefix to not install all the dependencies? I.e. if I want only boost, is there a way to make it not pull in all the implicit dependencies? – foxcub Aug 21 '09 at 21:38
Not that I know of. The goal of the project is to give you a separate managed software environment which is mostly self contained. If you're looking to build and link against the system installed libraries, it's probably not what you want. – Kamil Kisiel Aug 21 '09 at 22:08
It sounds very interesting in any case, I need to explore more. Thanks for the suggestion. – foxcub Aug 21 '09 at 22:27

The Netbsd Packages Collection works on various systems other than netbsd, and it should do much of what you want.

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