[tex-live] (fwd) Re: tlmgr query
preining at logic.at
Fri Jul 24 22:44:08 CEST 2009
Just to keep everyone informed on our discussion ...
answers are coming ...
----- Forwarded message from Rowland McDonnell <rjmmnet-lists at yahoo.co.uk> -----
> From: Rowland McDonnell <rjmmnet-lists at yahoo.co.uk>
> Subject: Re: [tex-live] tlmgr query
> To: Norbert Preining <preining at logic.at>
> Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2009 21:27:44 +0100
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> X-Mailer: Mailsmith 2.1.5 (Blindsider)
> >Some answers ...
> Thank you kindly for trying to help someone who is having great trouble
> getting to grips with how to look after a TeX live installation on his
> I really do appreciate the time you've put in to try to help, especially
> since you think I'm an idle bastard who can't be bothered to look things
> up himself.
> For the record, I was writing my reply to this email before 3pm today.
> I don't remember having a break and it's now past 9pm.
> That's how small an effort I'm putting in. btw, I've learnt very little
> from your latest email, but I feel that your kind attempt to help
> deserved full consideration and a full reply for proper respect to be
> And now I'm going to send this email because I don't think I can check
> it again. Apologies for any mistakes that I've failed to remove.
> >On Fr, 24 Jul 2009, Rowland McDonnell wrote:
> >> What I have achieved in all that time is to have found out a little
> >> bit about how to tell TeX Live (MacTeX 2008 installation) to
> >> generate locally specified formats and how to add new fount map
> >> files. I have
> >That is already more than most people know. Most people simply expect a
> >working system and do not want to fiddle around with the details. They
> >never heard about updmap(-sys), fmtutil(-sys) etc.
> That's right, but most people do not use TeX and of those who do, most
> do not maintain TeX systems. And most of those don't expect modern TeX
> to work just the way TeX has done for the last 20-odd years (modulo
> Now, I wish to maintain compatibility with all my old documents. That
> means any new TeX system I install must be modified to work
> The modifications I need to do are:
> Unplug Babel
> Plug in some additional founts
> Add a local system-wide additional TEXMF tree.
> That last part might not be necessary any more, but there was no such
> thing under teTeX and I do not relish the thought of trying to find out
> if there is such a thing supplied with TeXLive's current standard
> It was very easy to do with OzTeX because OzTeX was properly documented
> (and didn't come with Babel anyway). I worked it all out myself from
> the supplied documentation without needing any help from anyone.
> Indeed, I used to give help to other OzTeX users and did so much of that
> on the OzTeX-info mailing list that I got an official `thanks' from
> OzTeX's author. So please do not sneer at me for being ignorant of TeX
> as you have done below - I'm far from it.
> But I *AM* nearly totally ignorant of the workings of TeX live.
> It is VERY hard to work out what needs doing with MacTeX 2006, 2007, and
> 2008 because all those versions of MacTeX were not properly documented.
> >> It is very slow and frustrating: no-one involved seems to understand
> >True, it took me long long time, probably some years, to understand
> >all the internals. Do you expect to understand everything without
> >serious, and I mean really serious, investment of time?
> Thank you for that question. It is very helpful.
> Have you not understood that I have /already/ invested a significant
> amount of time in this job? And that I continue to do so despite
> soul-destroyingly slow progress and personal insults from those I am
> requesting help from?
> What is most frustrating is that there is simply no need for the trouble
> I'm having. The documentation should explain what i need to know in
> easy to understand terms.
> Unfortunately, the documentation, while significantly better than in the
> past, fails to do what it needs to do.
> > Anyone having
> >ever prepared a TeX system
> Such as myself. No, not the heavy duty stuff, but I've put together
> custom TeX distributions based on OzTeX for my own purposes. And I
> could do that because OzTeX was properly documented.
> (I even once installed emTeX in a non-standard part of the directory
> tree and that took all flippin' weekend, that did. The next time I
> installed emTeX, it came with instructions which included `Install it
> only in the default location, you'll be glad you did so' and I thought
> `Damned right!')
> > knows that this is a huge amount of work,
> >and that a few hours here and there is far from being enough to
> >understand even the surface.
> Thank you for your further illuminating comments.
> I do not need to understand the full details. I just need to understand
> enough to maintain my TeX system intelligently. I expect that a few
> weeks of working hard at the job will be enough - if I can find someone
> willing to explain to me the undefined terms that I do not understand.
> So far, it is not proving easy to find anyone willing to try answering
> my questions.
> >Sorry, that is life.
> Was I complaining about the time I'm having to spend? No, I was not.
> I was explaining that I was happy to put the time in and that I am happy
> to carry on putting a lot of time in until I've got things understood
> and properly documented.
> But I need help to make progress - just some small, simple items of
> information, which are proving nearly impossible to discover.
> One big problem with the modern world is that it is now conventional for
> anyone who does not understand a piece of software and asks questions to
> uncloud his ignorance can expect a lot of scorn and unhelpfulness from
> those already in the know.
> > But nobody expects you to understand the internals
> >of Microsoft Word,
> I fail to understand the connection you are making between MS Word and a
> TeX installation.
> > but with TeX you have at least the chance to
> >understand the internals, if you want to know them.
> You have that chance with MS Word too. All you have to do is decompile
> the code and work at it. It just takes reading and a serious investment
> of time - nothing more nor less than what you say is needed to
> understand TeXLive.
> In both cases, the vast majority of people are completely incapable of
> figuring anything out that way.
> In the case of TeX, it's *VERY* hard for a newcomer to understand the
> details without an existing expert to talk to to explain the written
> documentation and to guide them through the written sources. The
> available documentation mostly seems designed only for those who
> understand it already.
> I've never really got to grips with the TeXBook, for example - I've only
> ever studied it on my own, and Knuth is a really rotten teacher so I've
> learnt very little about that end of things (what is this `mouth' and
> `stomach' business, eh? I've got no idea at all). It's like that all
> through the TeX world.
> I get the idea that there is a premium placed on making documentation as
> inaccessible as possible to `just plain folks'.
> >> expert at all. In particular, I find it very hard to understand man
> >> pages and I am *NOT* familiar with the structure of TeX Live. I have
> >man pages are nothing mythical, please.
> <very puzzled> I did not claim that they were. They're real, living,
> and nearly completely incomprehensible in most cases.
> > You are native English,
> Unashamedly so - but I'd be careful about that sort of accusation if I
> were you. Not all QEII's subjects are English, remember; FWIW, my
> surname's Irish.
> (Admittedly, the Scots, Welsh, and both brands of Irish are fairly used
> to being mistaken for English and don't really mind - /if/ you can come
> across as a well-meaning-but-excusably-ignorant foreigner. Americans
> are assumed to have no excuse for such mistakes, poor dears.)
> > so I
> >assume you have the ability to comprehend even a longer text like the
> >man page of tlmgr. That has nothing to do with Unix or not Unix.
> Thank you for that point.
> The length of the text is not the problem. The contents of the text is
> the problem.
> The contents have that troublesome form due to the culture of Unix,
> which decrees that all documentation must be incomprehensible to anyone
> who's not already an expert.
> So I would say it has everything to do with it being Unix.
> >> Thank you again. I had read a lot of things telling me that I should
> >> use tlmgr instead of texconfig. It seems that the advice is not
> >You should use tlmgr for changing some configuration options, but
> >texconfig conf is something different, and in fact I don't see its
> >immediate use (in fact I never used it).
> Thank you for that useful information.
> texconfig conf is the only method I know of for finding out what TeX
> system path variables are set and what paths they refer to.
> Do you know of another way of doing that job? I have failed to find any
> mention of another method in the documentation.
> >> >> I would also like to know what exactly tlmgr -gui does when the
> >> >> `Re-create all formats' button is pressed. I have some custom
> >> >> formats
> >> >
> >> >It calls
> >> > fmtutil-sys --all
> >> >not surprisingly.
> >> Thank you. It is not any surprise, but not something that could be
> >> relied upon. For all I knew, tlmgr might have been calling a
> >> fmtutil-sys (or plain fmtutil) and asking for a special fmtutil.cnf
> >> file.
> >And which should that be? There is one fmtutil.cnf file that defines
> >the formats, and that is used.
> Thank you for that; but your remark is not consistent with my
> Because I have two different MacTeX installations selectable via the TeX
> prefs pane, I have two different local hand-maintained fmtutil.cnf files
> - specifically:
> (/Users/Shared/texmf.rjmm/web2c/fmtutil.cnf ought to be re-named
> /Users/Shared/texmf.rjmm/web2c/fmtutilvii.cnf, but I'm leaving it like
> that for the moment.)
> I can assume that any automatic mechanism supplied with MacTeX will
> ignore fmtutilviii.cnf unless I tell it otherwise; I'm not sure about
> kpsewhich fmtutil.cnf returns:
> of course, that doesn't tell me anything about which fmtutil.cnf file
> would be used by `whatever mechanism would want to use it' - but I'd
> start out by guessing my addition is the first one to suspect.
> You told me which kpsewhich incantation to use for that - and sure
> enough, kpsewhich -mode="web2c files" fmtutil.cnf returns:
> So I'm renaming that straight away to fmtutilvii.cnf.
> Now, MacTeX 2007 and 2008 installed the following fmtutil.cnf files:
> So there are two different fmtutil.cnf files per TeX Live installation
> by default, and I use my own custom version (at the moment) for
> generating the formats that are in use (because I don't understand the
> automatic management processes, I dare not use them).
> But the interesting thing is the two fmtutil.cnf files installed by
> kpsewhich -mode="web2c files" fmtutil.cnf
> so that's the version which will be used by tlmgr, I assume. What,
> though, is the other copy for? That is not clear.
> >> Now I have to find out what fmtutil-sys --all does and exactly how it
> >> differs from fmtutil --all. I'm stuck at the moment. I have read
> >> the
> >The difference between the -sys and none-sys variants has been
> >introduced in teTeX 3.0, so about 6 (8?) years ago?
> Thank you for telling me about the history of this software. I'm not
> sure why you think it's relevant to someone like myself without no
> recent experience in command line operations, nor teTeX, nor TeX Live.
> The difference between the -sys and non-sys forms is not mentioned in
> the man pages I have here. How is one suppoesed to learn this stuff?
> Morphic resonance seems to be the method you are suggesting above.
> I have used teTeX, but not six years ago - the first version of MacTeX I
> installed was MacTeX 2006 (it was sheer hell to install and set up). I
> found it nearly impossible to learn about its operation mostly due to
> the very poor documentation and the irritability of the people I asked
> advice from.
> >The differnece is where stuff
> >is written to/read from,
> > -sys: TEXMFSYSVAR, TEXMFSYSCONFIG
> > none-sys: TEXMFVAR, TEXMFCONFIG
> Ah! That is very useful information - thank you! Where is it
> documented? I've made a note of it in my current `How to manage TeX on
> my Mac' document.
> >> I've read the man page and asked questions. I still do not
> >> how to use kpsewhich, nor do I understand exactly what it is that
> >> kpsewhich tells the user.
> >It tells you which and if at all a file is found by the respective
> > $ kpsewhich -progname latex fancyhdr.sty
> > ..../tl/2009/texmf-dist/tex/latex/fancyhdr/fancyhdr.sty
> Thank you for that tip - also documented in my `how to set up MacTeX
> I have read the man page and asked many questions here and there about
> I have so far been unable to work out what `respective program' means
> with respect to kpsewhich - so I can get kpsewhich to do a search, but I
> cannot find out what the result applies to. I have been told that the
> way to find out is to use it and see what it does. I have tried that
> and have learnt nothing.
> >> In short, kpsewhich has not yet been my friend. I often have to use
> >> find to supplement kpsewhich. I cannot work out which file in a
> >find does not know about where the respective programs are searching
> >for files. All that is well documented in the kpathsea.info document,
> >which can also be formatted in pdf, or html.
> Thank you for that pointer.
> kpsewhich cannot find kpathsea.info.
> I did find kpathsea.info using find. I guessed how to display it. I do
> not know how to typeset it. I do not know how I might have come across
> it without using find.
> I do have a printed copy of an earlier version of that document.
> texdoc kpsewhich gave me a pdf version, which is much easier to read
> than the .info version.
> That document is obviously intended to be understood only by serious
> programming types. It is for the most part completely impenetrable to
> me and I'm not sure how most of it relates to using kpsewhich in any
> case. I would dispute your claim that kpsewhich is `well' documented -
> documented perhaps, but in a fashion that I consider suitable only for
> expert programmers.
> I have used the kpathsea library documenation to work things out - I did
> once manage to understand the syntax it used for turning a path
> specifier in a config file into a set of paths to search. But that's
> all gone from my mind now and the documention looks as incomprehensible
> as it did before I'd spent a some days working through section 3 a year
> or two back.
> /And/ that was with the aid of a useful document called
> README.howtexfindsfiles.txt, from one Gerben Wierda (author of
> i-installer) - which begins by explaining that the process is counter
> intuitive. Gerben's so impressed with the usefulness of the kpsewhich
> and kpathsea documentation that he doesn't give a pointer to either in
> his explanation.
> Even something that simple took a lot of notes and working out on my
> part over the course of several days. I can see my pencilled in
> scribbles now... If the documentation were half-decent, I could have
> understood the information in ten or twenty minutes because it's not
> that hard to understand once you've untangled the dreadful explanations
> (Gerben's stuff was easy enough to grasp, but not complete enough). As
> it was, it took one or two /orders of magnitude/ longer to work out.
> The documentation is certainly poor.
> >> Remember that I'm a Mac user and I do not - yet - understand the
> >> structure of texlive. A lot of things you take for granted are alien
> >> to me.
> >Not many understand the full structure and working of TeX Live,
> I don't need to understand it /fully/. I just need a bit of a clue.
> >probably less then 10. So don't expect to understand it without
> >serious research.
> Thank you for that encouragement. I do not aspire to such heights; I
> just want a normal working understanding of the basics.
> The only reason it's going to take me a lot of research to get a clue
> about the structure and basic operations of TeX Live is that the
> available documentation is so poor.
> >> > it is for
> >> > ROOT/texmf-var/web2c/fmtutil.cnf
> >> Could you explain how you know that? You said kpsewhich is my
> >> friend, but I don't see how kpsewhich could tell you that.
> > kpsewhich -mode="web2c files" fmtutil.cnf
> Thank you for telling me what incantation to use. But I wonder how one
> might work out that that is the right form? According to the kpathsea
> documentation I've got printed out here:
> Set the mode name to string; this also only affects ‘gf’ and ‘pk’
> lookups. No default: any mode will be found. See Section 22.214.171.124 [mktex
> script arguments], page 14.
> I've looked at section 126.96.36.199, but it casts no light for me. But it
> seems that the --mode option only affects gf and pk lookups. I cannot
> find a -mode option mentioned in the kpathsea documentation.
> The kpsewhich man page tells me this:
> -mode string Set device name for $MAKETEX_MODE to string; no default.
> $MAKETEX_MODE is however apparently undefined.
> >> I'm afraid I do not quite understand this part. When you say `is
> >> installed', what does the installing (or removing for that matter)?
> > tlmgr install ....
> > tlmgr remove ....
> > tlmgr update ...
> Thank you for listing the commands.
> >Did you read, I mean READ not skim, the tlmgr documentation?
> I don't see how reading documentation could have helped me understand
> what it is that you meant by the terms you were using - which is what i
> asked you about.
> I have already told you that almost none of that style of documentation
> makes any sense to me at the moment due to undefined terms. I can read
> it as much as you like and I will learn nothing new until I can find out
> more of the undefined terms.
> I'll try to explain myself in a different way since you have not been
> able to understand me yet:
> I have tried to read the tlmgr documentation, but I have failed to
> understand almost every single word because so much of it is undefined
> I hope that explains the situation properly.
> >> Where does the information in the database come from?
> >From the packages that you have installed, and originally from our
> >master copy.
> Thank you for that answer. I do know that the packages I have installed
> are not on any database being looked after by `some aspect of TeX Live'.
> >> What processes add or remove data from it?
> > tlmgr ...
> >(man page????)
> As I've tried to explain many times, the tlmgr man page is almost
> totally useless for me at the moment because it is full of undefined
> terms that I am finding it very very hard to get defintions for because
> people seem to get angry with me when I ask.
> >> And what data exactly is the file ROOT/texmf-var/web2c/fmtutil.cnf
> >> generated from?
> >From the data in the texlive.tlpdb, exactely from the lines
> > execute AddFormat ....
> >> I've read all the man pages I can find that might be relevant.
> >Doesn't look like.
> Do please try to understand this point: the fact that you can understand
> a written document does not give anyone else the power to do so.
> I do not understand most of the man pages (etc) that you point me at.
> They simply make no sense for the most part - they are (mostly) filled
> with undefined terms that I cannot find definitions for.
> The fact that I have failed to understand them does not mean that I've
> not read them. I think the problem is that you are troubled about
> accepting that there are people in this world who do not have your
> computer expert's ability to understand that sort of documentation.
> I think there really is no excuse for writing such rotten documentation.
> One should not have to conduct a research project aimed at producing a
> comprehensible version of any supplied documentation simply to learn how
> some software works in order to use it.
> But that is the case with this whole MacTeX/TeX live business - and what
> makes it worse is that the information I need does not appear to be
> published *anywhere* in a form that is accessible to me.
> I did a lot of reseach so that I could understand the documentation when
> MacTeX was based on teTeX. Pretty much all that work, all those pages
> of notes to myself explaining what the supplied documentation meant, all
> that is now obsolete and I'm more or less having to start from scratch
> I'm not daunted by the task in front of me, and I know how much work it
> is. But please do not think that I'm being lazy or lying about what I
> have read and tried to do.
> The problem is simply that I am not a computer specialist and the
> available documentation is quite simply bloody awful - so awful that
> it's only accessible to a certain kind of person with a particular
> background, particular specialist training, and a particular peculiar
> mental ability that I do not possess: the ability to collect information
> from widely spaced sources and remember it without any apparent effort.
> It's a mental ability that I've noticed is shared by all the `hacker
> types' I've ever met and one that I do not possess a shred of.
> I have to do it the hard way by writing stuff down piece by painstaking
> piece. And by the time I've tracked down an item of information, I've
> forgotten what it was I was trying to do. Working like that is nearly
> impossible but it's what i've got to do if I want to get anywhere, so
> off I go.
> It would be easier if I didn't get so much anger and scorn from those I
> seek help from.
> >> I've spent some hours on this - and got only headaches. I cannot
> >> any documentation on the TeX Live Package Database.
> >As already mentioned, go to
> > http://www.logic.at/people/preining/Work
> >and you will find many things,
> I had looked <http://www.logic.at/staff/preining/TeX> and I discovered
> only two sets of slides on the subject that did not help me. I didn't
> think to check anywhere else.
> > the is a long article in the ArsTeXnica,
> >and many other things.
> I was unable to find a link to that.
> >ArsTeXnica article: http://www.logic.at/people/preining/pubs/at07.pdf
> >GuIT Meeting 2007 presentation:
> >BachoTeX 2008 presentation:
> >ArsTeXnica 2008 TL and tlmgr article:
> >resp.presentation: http://www.logic.at/people/preining/talks/guit08.pdf
> >TL 2008 talk at the CSTUG:
> >Plus all the documentation (containing most of the stuff from above) in
> > http://www.tug.org/svn/texlive/trunk/Master/tlpkg/doc/
> Hmm! Interesting - I would not have found that on my own.
> >So don't tell me nothing is documented!
> I do not recall making such a claim.
> I stated that I could not *find* any documentation on various subjects,
> I have stated that the documentation I have found it generally very poor
> - and it's often hard to find, too.
> But I don't recall stating that nothing is documented - it's just all so
> very badly done, that's all. If the documentation were adequate, I
> would not be annoying you with my questions, would I?
> >> >> What does `Re-initialize file database' mean?
> >> >
> >> >Calling
> >> > mktexlsr
> >> >(was that difficult?)
> >> I do not understand your question.
> >> It was impossible for me to work out what `Re-initialize file
> >> database' meant. I had absolutely no hints at all. It was not
> >> hard: it was impossible.
> >Because you have no idea how TeX works.
> <raised eyebrows> I am somewhat surprised to come across that claim. I
> can assure you I've got a very clear idea how TeX works and have had
> since the 1980s.
> I know almost nothing about how Unix TeX systems such as TeX Live (and
> it is a Unix TeX system, don't go quibbling now) are organised nor how
> they operate. I am new to Unix TeX. I am not a Unix expert. I am a
> Mac user.
> Do you understand the distinction?
> I understand how TeX works, but I do not understand Unix or Unix TeX
> system organization and operation.
> That is largely because I'm not a Unix expert, I'm a common or garden
> Mac user, and so almost all the available documentation for TeX Live
> makes nearly no sense at all to me.
> >Reading kpathsea.info would have told you that there is for each tree
> >a ls-R file listing all the files.
> Thank you for that suggestion.
> I am puzzled as to how it'd help for me to read every word from start to
> finish in document of more than 50 pages, do it on screen using a screen
> reader that makes it very hard to understand and navigate the text, and
> the contents of which almost all make nearly no sense to me? How is
> that supposed to help me learn anything at all?
> All that process does is waste time and gets me annoyed because I can't
> understand anything. It obstructs understanding.
> I did however discover the particular point you're making some time ago
> because a kind person told me.
> The fact that ls-R files are kept for TeX Live to do things with tells
> me nothing at all about what tlmgr does when you press `Re-initialize
> file database'.
> Indeed, since the ls-R files count as file database*S*, it would not
> have been unreasonable of me to assume that whatever was being done had
> nothing to do with them.
> I decided that I simply didn't have enough data to decide anything and
> needed some documentation to tell me instead.
> I found that the documentation simply tells you that it's obvious from
> the GUI. I did manage to get someone to answer my question in the end,
> sort of, in a fairly abrasive fashion but that's fine by me just so long
> as I get the data.
> Thank you again!
> > And that texhash/mktexlsr is updating
> >these database.
> I've looked, and I can't see that the kpathsea documention says anything
> at all about what tlmgr does. Where is the section in that document
> explaining the function of the control `Re-initialize file database' in
> tlmgr -gui?
> And what does that have to do with the way TeX works? Nothing at all
> that I can see.
> This is something to do with the way Unix TeX systems have evolved.
> OzTeX did not operate in that way as far as I'm aware.
> >> I am not familiar with the command mktexlsr. I am not a Unix guru.
> >Nothing to do with Unix, same on Windows, Mac, ...
> I can assure you that mktexlsr was not available as a user command in
> the TeX ports *I* had on my Macs before Macs got Unix as their operating
> system. It was only when Macs got Unix that they got that kind of
> mktexlsr came from Unix - it's got a Unix-type name. "ls" is a Unix
> command, not one you'll find as part of MS-DOS. Web2C TeX evolved on
> TeX Live might well be cross-platform and TeX might well have been born
> on TOPS-20 (IIRC), but TeX Live is a Unix project at heart.
> OzTeX created a file database without user intervention on startup.
> CMacTeX (IIRC) had a menu command for creating a Unix-type file database
> (CMacTeX was a fairly simple port of Web2C TeX).
> In neither case did the user type a command called mktexlsr, and in the
> case of OzTeX users, many were completely unaware that OzTeX built
> itself any sort of file database at all.
> >> am not a long-standing expert in the care and maintenence of texlive.
> >If you use TL and you don't have any special need, you don't need to,
> >tlmgr is caring for all that.
> Thank you for that suggestion, but I've worked out that tlmgr does not
> perform as you claim it does.
> On top of that, I'm not inclined to trust automatic maintenance software
> because in my experience such things *ALWAYS* screw up badly at some
> point, especially when you've been unable to find out what they do.
> I've been told `trust the automatic system' before now and lost an awful
> lot of data, and been put to an awful lot of bother.
> Before I use anything like that these days, I make sure I understand
> what it does and how it does it so that I can ensure it does what I need
> and also so I can take precautions against the problems it is *SURE* to
> >> The reason I asked about backups is that I've read the man page,
> >> the section on backups, and I've found it impossible to work out what
> >> tlmgr does by way of backups.
> >Aemmm ... did you read tlmgr --help???
> I've told you that I did so, and I did explain my problems with
> understanding what it had to say.
> Perhaps you could try re-reading my careful explanations of why it is
> that I learn almost nothing I need to learn when I read tlmgr's man
> page? It seems to me that you must have failed to understand something
> about what I've explained to you.
> > --backup and --backupdir directory
> > These two options control the creation of backups of packages
> > before an update is started; that is, the backup is of the
> > packageas it's installed. ...
> >Isn't that clear enough?
> As I've already explained in quite careful detail, those words do not
> explain what I need to know.
> To repeat my explanation, but concisely: `backup' and `package' are not
> adequately defined for that fragment of man page to make any sense to
> `Backup', I've got the hang of by now, at least until I forget the
> precise meaning due to not using the information on account of not being
> able to find any of the other jigsaw pieces I need to understand tlmgr.
> > When you call
> > tlmgr update
> >and give --backup or have set that option, a backup of the current
> >of a package is done (.tar) before updating. Using
> > tlmgr restore
> >you can go back.
> If I can work out what a `package', `current status of a package', and a
> `backup' means *exactly* in this context, I might be able to understand
> it a little. But I'm still ignorant of what `package' means and I've no
> idea what you might mean by `current status of a package'. I expect you
> think I'm just saying that to annoy you - well, I'm not, I really don't
> Yes, you've helped me understand `backup' in this context - a tarfile of
> `that which is being replaced by new stuff' is shoved into the specified
> backup directory, that's comprehensible enough. You could have been
> more helpful with less effort on your part, but thank you just the same.
> >tlmgr -help reading helps, *REALLY*, trust me!
> Thank you for that suggestion, but as I've tried to explain to you
> several times:
> It really does not help, *REALLY*, trust me!
> I have tried reading that document, but I can understand almost none of
> it because so many of the terms are undefined.
> If nothing else, I need a printed copy of such awkward documention; man
> pages on screen are completely impossible for me to work with. I've got
> the thing next to my keyboard right now, printed out and bound into a
> nice green folder. And it's nearly completely useless for reasons I've
> explained often enough, I think. Perhaps you could try to understand my
> explanations? I've repeated the basic explanation here. What part of
> my explanation are you having difficulty with?
> I see your *.at email address, but your command of English seems
> perfectly adequate to understand - well, pretty much anything written i
> the only language I understand.
> >> sort of Unix expert; I cannot write shell scripts, I do not speak
> >> Perl,
> >> I'm not familiar with the structure and jargon of Unix or texlive).
> >No need do be Unix guru, only reading *carefully* the documentation.
> Please understand that I have tried that. But every single document I
> read is full of undefined terms that I cannot find definitions for,
> therefore I cannot understand much of them.
> >> One reason texlive man pages are often not very helpful for me is
> >> their excessive use of the passive voice.
> >> For example: `these two options control the creation of backups of
> >> packages before an update is started'.
> >> Before an update is started by what, exactly? I can't find anything
> >> that tells me and I can't work it out.
> >Aemmmm .... tlmgr update ... did you READ?
> Yes, and I totally failed to understand what "tlmgr update" does.
> I do not understand why you should be annoyed with me because I cannot
> understand undefined terms in technical documentation.
> I think I've explained this point before: I read the documents, but I
> fail to understand mostly due to undefined terms.
> >I mean, honestly, are you joking or do you want to steal our time here?
> As I have explained repeatedly, I simply cannot understand the supplied
> documentation mostly because of undefined terms.
> The fact that some of these terms might well be formally defined if one
> were to read and understand several other long and (to me) nearly
> totally incomprehensible documents doesn't help me at all.
> I need a little bit of help from people willing to explain what those
> undefined terms mean so that I can understand.
> That's all - I just need a bit of help understanding some undefined
> Unfortunately, you seem to be angry with me for not understanding things
> that you do understand and I'm not getting many of the explanations I've
> asked for.
> Instead of what I've tried to ask for, what I'm getting from you is
> mostly lots of pointers to documents that I do not understand because of
> the undefined terms that I'm asking for definitions of.
> And you have got very cross with me for not understanding, so it seems.
> >Did you read or not? And if you did, why don't you remember
> > tlmgr update
> The documentation does not make sense to me!!!
> How often do I have to make that point?
> >> I don't even know what `backup' means in this context. Nor do I know
> >> what a `package' is in this context. Of course in /general/ terms I
> >Well, packages are packages in the CTAN sense. Like memoir, like
> >fancyhdr, like ...., one package shipping many files, or sometimes only
> >one file.
> So where can I find out what `package' means in the CTAN sense?
> > what *exactly* will be saved (and how is that worked out)?
> >tar is used to package the files into an archive, the list of files
> >is determined from the texlive.tlpdb
> Okay, so that's what does the job and I get a tar file out. Not what I
> asked for here, but useful information.
> Which files, exactly, are put in the tar file?
> >> what does the saving?
> >> what events exactly prompt the save to happen?
> >the command line options or the options saved in the tlpdb, together
> >with the actions backup or update.
> Thank you for providing some information here.
> But I think you have not understood what I was trying to find out.
> I shall not press you for an answer. You've got angry enough with my
> inability to understand things which are very simple for you.
> >> what does `update' mean in this context?
> >tlmgr udpate
> Thank you for trying to give me an answer.
> Unfortunately, that does not tell me what's being done.
> >> And what's a package?
> >See above.
> I have read above and failed to understand adequately.
> >> I know about LaTeX packages (pkg files - and their dtx/ins source
> >> code etc), but I find it hard to credit that `something' makes
> >> backups only
> >Exactely, and the collection of these files is one package.
> So are you telling me that a TeXLive `collection' is a `package' is the
> set of files that are distributed with a LaTeX `package'?
> If so, I am even more confused than I had been.
> >So you can say
> > tlmgr install fancyhdr
> >and the full fancyhdr package will be installed
> >> Please believe me that I have put a lot of time and effort into
> >> finding my own answers to the above questions. I'm not asking
> >> because I'm lazy:
> >No, I don't believe you. Not the least.
> <shrug> Oh well.
> I wonder why you do not believe that it is hard for me to understand
> things that you find easy to understand?
> >> Okay, that's where the database is. But again I have more
> >> questions I cannot find the answers to myself. What puts data in
> >> the database? And
> >install-tl initially, i.e., the installation.
> >After that tlmgr
> Thank you for trying to give me an answer.
> But I think you have not understood what I was trying to find out.
> I shall not press you for an answer. You've got angry enough with my
> inability to understand things which are very simple for you.
> >> where does this data come from?
> >From the packages you install, thus from the master texlive.tlpdb on
> >the DVD/tlnet distribution on CTAN.
> Since I have not installed any packages except some of my own local ones
> that are separate from all the automatic mechanisms, there is something
> wrong with your explanation.
> But thank you anyway, even though I've not understood you at all.
> >> Righto - thank you for that. Do you know how I might find out more
> >> about it? In particular, where does the information in that database
> >> come from?
> >From the master tlpdb, and there it comes from the definitions WE put
> >into our tlpsrc files, see
> > http://www.tug.org/svn/texlive/trunk/Master/tlpkg/tlpsrc/
> >Enough now.
> >I would say before you TRY to understand the inner working, please
> >begin to actually *USE* tlmgr.
> It would be very stupid of me to follow that advice, because doing so
> would certainly break my TeX installation.
> I have had experience of automatic maintenance software breaking things
> and throwing away data in the past.
> I've made that sort of mistake a few times too many and I'm not going to
> do it again.
> I'm only really interested in the outer workings, but it seems that
> you're not at all happy about me learning them.
> > And when you are familiar with tlmgr and its
> > usage,
> I cannot learn that by /using/ tlmgr.
> I have tried to learn how to use software that way in the past and I
> have always failed. I either need documentation or someone to explain
> things to me - always one or the other.
> Normally, I just need a bit of help to sort out some basic questions at
> the start. That's all I'm asking for at the moment, but my questions
> seem to anger you.
> I do know that my questions mostly remain unanswered, which it a pity
> because you clearly spent a lot of time on that email in reply to me.
> > then you can read more documentation like the above mentioned
> >articles and presentations.
> Thank you for your well meant advice. I am not able to learn in the way
> you suggest.
> And thank you for putting the time in to reply to me, even though you
> are clearly very annoyed with me and think I'm an idle bastard. I
> appreciate your efforts for me, even if I failed to understand very much
> of your latest message.
----- End forwarded message -----
Dr. Norbert Preining <preining at logic.at> Vienna University of Technology
Debian Developer <preining at debian.org> Debian TeX Group
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