I am fairly new to linux admin so this may sound quite a noob question.

I have a VPS account with a root access.

I need to install Tomcat and Java on it and later other open source applications as well.
Installation for all of these is as simple as unzipping the .gz in a folder.

My questions are

A) Where should I keep all these programs?
In Windows, I typically have a folder called programs under c:\ where I unzip all applications.
I plan to have something similar here as well.
Currently, I have all these under apps folder under/root- which I am guessing is a bad idea. What's wrong with always being root?
Right now I am planning to put them under /opt

B) To what group should Tom belong to ?
I would need a user - say Tom who can simply execute these programs.
Do I need to create a new group? or just add Tom to some existing group ?

C) Finally- Am I doing something really stupid by installing all these application by simply unzipping them?
I mean an alternate way would be to use Yum or RPM or something like that to install these applications.
Given my familiarity and (tight budget) that seems too much to me.
I feel uncomfortable running commands which i don't understand too well

  • There have been many volumes written on these topics. You would be doing yourself a favour by reading at least some of the newbie guides before proceeding any further. Asking a few question as they pop up will invariably result in missing some really important things. Apr 8, 2010 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


A) Read the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard.

B) Tom should not be running these programs. They should be run by root, in the background.

C) Yes. Packages for a distro are tuned to work efficiently within the distro and with other packages in the distro.


RHEL documentation

Money? CentOS.

  • I thought it was a bad idea to start programs like Tomcat as a root serverfault.com/questions/57962/…
    – RN.
    Apr 7, 2010 at 0:49
  • 2
    Most programs either drop privileges after starting, or are actually run via wrappers that force it to be run as another user. But in either case they are started by root, even though they don't run as root. Apr 7, 2010 at 0:59

Learn to use your package manager. They are good, they will do things right more often than not. Windows Doesn't have a sane package manager. By using your package manager it can tell you when security updates become available. It allows for easy removal. Other people who are familiar with this distribution will be familiar with the locations things have been installed to. You will be more able to use your distro's online documentation and community. These will be less available if you do everything yourself. Only do it the manual way if your distro doesn't provide what you need (and even then I'd recommend learning to package it yourself and still using the package manager).

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