is /usr/local the same as /Users/someName


I am pretty new to unix. I have been using osx since 3/24.

It seems that the general dir to install applications on other unix systems is to /usr/local

OSX has this too, however, is /Users/someUserName just as good a place??

what differences will occur if I install something in either location.

The general convention is anything which is to be used by all users on a system but don't come with the system go into /usr/local (or /opt under some *nix). Installing into /Users/someuser means it is usually only available to that one user.
/usr/local is the place you want to put things like binaries/libraries/includes/ancillary files that
will be used by all the users on the machine.

/Users/SomeUser is the home account for SomeUser and generally not what you want unless you want SomeUser
to be the only one to run/use it. But, I'd put it in /Users/SomeUser/sw or so so it doesn't clog up the home.
That is, if you're talking about good old fashioned unix programs...

If you're talking about shiny new Mac OS X applications, then they should go somewhere under /Applications.

By the way, /usr is a directory of the parent directory of the parent directory of /Users.

The 'usr' in /usr stands for universal system resources. While it commonly pronounced "slash user slash" et cetera, its actually a bit of a misnomer.
You know, I kind of wondered about its name. I figured it was an abbreviation of user, since programs that would be used by the users are typically found in there. Is /etc still what it looks like? :)