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Installing debs in ~user/ or /usr/local?

Hi all,

maybe it is a stupid question, but can debian packages be installed in other 
places than / ?

I know that when the package is compiled the Makefile has a $DESTDIR
attribute, but is this preserved in the deb package?

This issue came up when i tried to convince someone that debian packages
are a good addition to tar.gz for distribution... but one argument he gave, 
was the question if non-root users could install debian packages?

Is this possible?


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