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Okay guys, I'm really sorry for asking such a newbie question but it's something that I have never really got a straight answer for. Where in a linux distro should I install programs?... Say I'm using Red Hat 9 and want to install firefox, which directory should I put it in. Also, should I be installing it as root or as a user. My appologies for my lack of knowledge, but I am very new to linux. Many thanks.
its depends whether u r installing or just simply running it.
when u r installing a program, u have to be root because the program needs to write files in the restricted folders. these folders r generally in /usr. u have no control over where these files r going to be installed. so dont even think about changing the installation folders.
few programs dont have to be installed.take firefox for example. u dont need to intall firefox, all u have to do is run it. the command to run it is ./firefox or simply double click the icon firefox. since firefox does not access any of the restricted folders u dont need to be root.
Usually, programs would install to /usr such as /usr/local/ and /usr/bin for the binary executable, and in order to sucesfully install, "make install" would need to be done as root.
You can install apps into your directory if you wanted, depending on what dependencies they had and if they required any other libraries, but this would limit other users being able to access the program.
Some apps install to different locations, and will usually be detailed within the README or INSTALL file, depending on whether they follow the LSB guidelines
Distribution: Gentoo (desktop), Arch linux (laptop)
For some software, you can put it at anywhere you like (the case of firefox).
But you must nothice that
If you put it in a normal user's home, only that user and, of course, root can run that software .
If you want this software to be accessible by any user, or you can say: install it, you must be root as arunvk said.