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As a quick background to the question, years ago I installed LaTeX on a Linux Mint computer just using the package manager. Worked for a long time. Then I needed to install a package that tlmgr couldn't find. When I asked a question on StackExchange about how to do this, the only response was "Your installation is weird."

I believe the issue was that the package manager doesn't create a texmf tree structure when it installs. I later tried to create a tree structure and failed, and just gave up.

Then years after that, re-installed LaTeX. I think the new install has somehow come into conflict with the old installation. So now I want to just utterly uninstall and wipe all LaTeX installations off of my computer and install it the right way from the start.

The problem is that every instruction I find on how to install LaTeX says to do it from the package manager, which is what got me in trouble the first time.

So the question: I have utterly purged all earlier installations of LaTeX from my machine, as far as I can tell. (entering which latex returns nothing at the command line) I know I want to install LaTeX in such a way that it is configured to have a texmf tree and can install packages outside of the package manager. What's the right way to do it?

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