Only a few things might need to be spread to other directories, using symlinks when possible (binary in /usr/local/bin, libs in /usr/local/lib, header files in /usr/local/include).
Well, I know about a packaging system that does exactly that (I don't remember its name). The problem is that maintaining that lot of symlinks is a mess, usually. It's easier (and IMHO more convenient) to use the installation system of the package to put the files where they belong (again, IMHO) in the first place.
Hi, people. Just perusing email in ultra-fast mode :-). I did not read the previous exchanges, so I apologize if I'm out of context.
I used two installation systems which were extremely fond on symbolic links: LUDE (from Université de Montréal) and Stow (from GNU). Both have been used in various places.
LUDE was a bit gigantic for my own needs, I've never really been comfortable with it. Stow was OK and clean (not so messy). Even if I was careful to be stow-compatible for a few packages I maintained in another life, I nowadays prefer installations to be plain straight.
-- François Pinard http://pinard.progiciels-bpi.ca