Install a newer Valgrind version on Ubuntu 14.04 using alternatives

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Although Valgrind is part of the default Ubuntu repositories, the version can sometimes lack behind. In this case a developer required a newer version of Valgrind on an Ubuntu 14.04 server.

The installed version (from the official repos) is 3.10.1:

# dpkg -l|grep valgrind | awk '{print $2" "$3}'
valgrind 1:3.10.1-1ubuntu3~14.5

# valgrind --version

 The current release (as of this writing) is 3.13.0. So let's get this new version on board! Luckily this is pretty easy on Debian based systems (like Ubuntu) when using "alternatives".

First download the new release, unpack it, and change into the unpacked folder:

$ wget
$ tar -xjf valgrind-3.13.0.tar.bz2
$ cd valgrind-3.13.0/

Compile the source code:

$ ./configure
$ make

Install the newly compiled files. By default (using ./configure without any parameters) this will install the valgrind binary in /usr/local/bin:

$ sudo make install

At this moment we have two different installations of Valgrind on the system:

# whereis valgrind
valgrind: /usr/bin/valgrind.bin /usr/bin/valgrind /usr/lib/valgrind /usr/bin/X11/valgrind.bin /usr/bin/X11/valgrind /usr/local/bin/valgrind /usr/local/lib/valgrind /usr/include/valgrind /usr/share/man/man1/valgrind.1.gz

As you can see, the first valgrind appearing in the list is /usr/bin/valgrind, somewhat later /usr/local/bin/valgrind is in the list. Now let's tell the system to use an "alternative installation" (hence the "alternatives" word) of Valgrind:

$ sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/valgrind valgrind /usr/local/bin/valgrind 1 --force
update-alternatives: using /usr/local/bin/valgrind to provide /usr/bin/valgrind (valgrind) in auto mode

This command tells Ubuntu to use an alternative for /usr/bin/valgrind - it should now use the binary found in path /usr/local/bin/valgrind.
To expain this on a file level:

$ ll /usr/bin/valgrind
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 26 Sep  3 09:34 /usr/bin/valgrind -> /etc/alternatives/valgrind

/usr/bin/valgrind is now a symlink to /etc/alternatives/valgrind

$ ll /etc/alternatives/valgrind
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 23 Sep  3 09:34 /etc/alternatives/valgrind -> /usr/local/bin/valgrind

And /etc/alternatives/valgrind is itself another symlink to the final destination /usr/local/bin/valgrind. From now on, the system uses the new Valgrind version:

$ valgrind --version

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Patrix from wrote on May 12th, 2020:

Thank you! Very nicely explained and the information can be further used to handle other similar scenarios.