Installing Linux Software without Root Privileges: Vim + YCM

Ever worked on a server that you didn’t have root privileges and you’ve wanted some software to be installed but the IT guy said no?
This is the right place!
In this articles I will explain how to install software you want or need without root privileges.

Today: Vim + You CompleteMe

Normally I’m using Ubuntu or other updated enviroment, and then Vim and other components are more up to date.
About 3 months ago I’ve started working on a CentOS 6.3 server which I had no root privileges to and I’ve wanted to install YouCompleteMe – the problem:
YouCompleteMe needs an updated version of vim, at least 7.3.584 and cmake 2.8.x (where CentOS 6.3 has vim 7.2.x and cmake 2.6.x)

For the record: Centos 6.5 (most updated) still had the same major versions of vim and cmake.
Comment: This document also apply to install updated vim and YouCompleteMe on a system with root access but older packages (and you don’t want to mess with the repositories)


First of all we will need to download an updated vim version (Source):

hg clone
-- or if you don't have Mercurial --

Second you will need to untar + compile it:

--- If needed --- 
tar xvzf vim-7.4.tar.bz2
--- then configure ---
./configure --prefix=~/vim74 \
            --with-features=huge \
            --enable-rubyinterp \
            --enable-pythoninterp \
            --with-python-config-dir=/usr/lib/python2.6/config \
            --enable-perlinterp \
            --enable-gui=gtk2 --enable-cscope \
make install
    •  Notice: I’ve selected that the installation will take place under ~/vim7.4 (your home directory) with –prefix command – thus no root needed
    • Note that even in Centos 6.5 the python’s libraries are 2.6.x thus the –with-python-config-dir=/usr/lib/python2.6/config
      (original document uses python 2.7)
    • Additional development libraries are needed for the compilation – if you don’t have them request from your IT guy to install them (no workaround in this document)

After the installation complete add this line to your ~/.bashrc so when you type vim/gvim in the terminal the correct version will be opened:

alias gvim="~/vim74/bin/gvim"
alias vim="~/vim74/bin/vim"

Optional configuration:

      • The raw vim you’ve installed miss some of the basic elements of the preinstall vim on Ubuntu and CentOS.
        Here are some recommendations you want to add to your ~/.vimrc file:
syntax on                       " Enable syntax highlight
set backspace=2                 "Set backspace behavior to normal

All done with the vim – now you have an updated version of it.


Vim is rich with modules on anything and everything you will ever need. YCM is one of them and it is a popular one, It gives you the ability to easy auto complete with preview window (explanation on the function/object you want to use).

To install this module I’ve used Vundle – for other options see YCM Site.
Note: if you already have vundle skip this next install section and just add Bundle ‘Valloric/YouCompleteMe to your ~/.vimrc

Vundle and YMC installtion and configuration:

mkdir ~/.vim
cd ~/.vim
git clone ~/.vim/bundle/vundle
echo "set nocompatible" >> ~/.vimrc
echo "filetype off" >> ~/.vimrc
echo "set rtp+=~/.vim/bundle/vundle/" >> ~/.vimrc
echo "call vundle#rc()" >> ~/.vimrc
echo "Bundle 'gmarik/vundle'" >> ~/.vimrc
echo "Bundle 'Valloric/YouCompleteMe'" >> ~/.vimrc
echo "filetype plugin indent on" >> ~/.vimrc

After you’ve done install the plugin by running Vim and invoking:


You will see that the YCM installation is not complete – you will need to run from the YMC directory to complete the installation.
The Problem: CentOS comes with an old cmake and you will need to download a new one.

Download the file cmake-2.8.x.x-Linux-i386.tar.gz from Here.
Untar the the file at your convinient location.
This is an already compiled version!

Now after you have the new cmake edit the file ~/.vim/bundle/YouCompleteMe/
Find the line that start with:

cmake -G "Unix Makefiles"

and replace it with (this is example for the version I’ve installed of cmake):

~/Downloads/cmake- cmake -G "Unix Makefiles"

Now you can install YCM with invoking ./

Additional options:

      • For you python lovers additional smart complete for python (extent support for YCM) add the bundle: ‘davidhalter/jedi’
      • You can add these lines for the ~/.vimrc so the preview window of dunctions/objects will disapear after you’ve finished calling it:
let g:ycm_add_preview_to_completeopt = 0
let g:ycm_autoclose_preview_window_after_completion = 1
let g:ycm_autoclose_preview_window_after_insertion = 1

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