i had sent this to oliver as a suggestion, and his reply mentioned that he was going to post it to this list, so i thought i'd clarify a little bit. earlier last week i had been attempting to install a package that i had downloaded into a local directory. i could, i think, see where dselect made allowance for that kind of thing, but couldn't figure out how to make that work. ultimately i used the dpkg-scanpackages command and got that to work, but i'm not exactly sure what it did and how that interacted with the rest of what is installed on the machine. it would be nice if this type of thing were to receive a fairly explicit treatment in the documentation, because it touches on so many elements of how a debian system is configured.
"You can check your anatomy all you want, and even though there may be normal variation, when it comes right down to it, this far inside the head it all looks the same. No, no, no, don't tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to."