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I'd like to install programs without affecting other users on a box. I can imagine a parallel install tree (lib, bin, man, etc.) in my user directory.

Can apt-get do that, or is there another technique that would work?

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Easiest way, IMO, is to compile from source.

Just specify a location with 'prefix'

./configure --prefix=/home/your_user/
make install

Often the hardest part of compiling is installing the dependencies.

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Yes, which is what apt-get is for. So you're saying there is no way with apt-get. Okay. – dfrankow Feb 1 '13 at 23:20
Not with apt-get, but dependencies are not that hard to find. Either find them listed in the README, project home page, or if all else fails, the error messages when you compile (most error messages are dependencies). In Ubuntu most dependencies include a -dev package. – bodhi.zazen Feb 1 '13 at 23:27

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