I finally got around to installing Paraview on my CentOS 5 box. There are no official RPMS for CentOS 5, so I was expecting a painful build process. To my great surprise, I was able to download the Paraview binary for Linux (64-bit) from Kitware, unpack the archive, and run it! As root, I placed the entire ParaView-3.12.0 directory under /opt/Paraview. You could also keep it in your home directory if you are running a single-user system. I added /opt/Paraview/ParaView-3.12.0/bin to the $PATH in the .bashrc file in my home directory. Now I can type paraview at the command line and it runs!
What if you want Paraview to appear in the Applications menu in your desktop environment? Most modern desktops (I use XFCE4) construct the Applications menu “on the fly” based upon the files in a standard directory (/usr/share/applications on CentOS). The Free Desktop Project has created a standard for desktop entry files. You may also find this summary of the standard to be helpful. To add Paraview to the menu, you simply need to create a new file in the standard location. If you installed Paraview in your user directory, you may want to place the desktop file in $HOME/.local/applications. Here are the contents of a file I called paraview.desktop:
[Desktop Entry] Type=Application Name=Paraview Categories=Graphics;3DGraphics;Science;Engineering Comment=3D visualization tool Exec=paraview Icon=paraview.svg
I found Paraview menu icons here. Save the SVG icon to /usr/share/icons (there may be an equivalent location in your user directory but I don’t know what it is). Now, when you bring up the Applications menu in your desktop environment the entry should appear (no need to restart or anything).