So we need to look for another solution.
I would be happy to help you, but I think my knowledge is not enough.
> (require 'package)
> (add-to-list 'package-archives '("melpa" .
> (require 'auto-complete-config)
> (auto-complete-mode t)
> (global-linum-mode t)
Is it enough to do just this instead:
IOW, can I skip the steps that set up package.el, and instead download
Yes, you can. That I did:
$ mkdir -p ~/.emacs.d/packages
$ cd ~/.emacs.d/packages
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/packages/auto-complete")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/packages/popup-el")