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Re: Can I use dpkg -i to install in /usr/local or /opt?

You points are as good as one can think of. But please consider what
Debian is working for. The want to be fully conformant to whatever
Standard will be there for files and directories. Now one of the
points is. No vendors should install anything below /usr/local. The
point is if you make it easy to instal whereever you like. This will
be done and all the work on standards will go downhill.

If you aren't just using Debian, then you'll see how different the
other Distributions are. Config-files in non-standard places, cluttere
all around and that with the x GB files which a Linux distribution
consists of nowadays. So you can't be sure on different Linices
(plural?) to find what you're looking for easily. 

Just my 2 cents

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