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Install and Use LESS on Dreamhost

I am working on a few websites and recently started using LESS CSS for creating my CSS. Anyways, I am using a Dreamhost shared server for not only my website, but other projects I am working on. Unfortunately with a shared server account, you don’t have access to sudo, so you can’t install applications. I got tired of editing my LESS files on the server, copying them locally or doing the git push and pull boogie, running a make file to build the css, and then pushing the css back to the server. I searched and searched for the answer and never found out. However, I did remember that I used to do a lot of Debian and Ubuntu packaging not all that long ago and figured I could just download all the files I need from the Ubuntu archive, extract them, and put them in their proper place. After doing all of this manually and testing it that everything worked just how I needed, I decided to write a script to do all the work. That way there I didn’t have to use this blog to provide step-by-step instructions.

Getting the script

You can either use git to grab the file or you can simply grab the script only.

With git:

git clone git://

If you grab the script from the above link, you will need to make it executable:

chmod +x

Running the script

Here comes the easy part:


What does the script do?

The script simply downloads the necessary packages from the Ubuntu archive, or a tarball if it isn’t in the archive. The following is a list of everything that gets downloaded and installed as well as where it gets placed: NOTE: $PREFIX defaults to ~/.local/usr

  • lesscss – git clone of the lesscss source. bin/lessc and lib/less moved to $PREFIX
  • libev – tarball configured, built, and installed to $PREFIX
  • node.js – deb file extracted. bin/node moved to $PREFIX
  • libc-ares, libssl, libicu, and libv8 – deb file extracted. lib/ moved to $PREFIX

What you need to add to make it work

You just need to add 2 lines to your shell’s rc file. In my case I added them to ~/.zshrc, but by default Dreamhost shared servers use ~/.bash_profile. Here are the 2 lines to add:

export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/.local/usr/bin
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="$HOME/.local/usr/lib"

Source the edited file or log out and back in for everything to work.


If you have any problems, please leave a comment below.

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