The colon or semicolon in texmf.cnf

Petr Olsak
Wed, 8 Sep 1999 11:13:38 +0200 (MET DST)

Dear Fabrice,

I have read the kpathsea documentation very long time ago, thus I
remember only that colon (:) and semicolon (;) are arbitrary
changeable in path descriptions in texmf.cnf. This is a reason that I
accept as correct the following lines in texmf.cnf in TeXlive 4 CD:

% cstex, from Petr Olsak
TEXINPUTS.cslatex = .;$TEXMF/tex/{cslatex,csplain,latex,generic,}//
TEXINPUTS.csplain = .;$TEXMF/tex/{csplain,plain,generic,}//
TEXINPUTS.pdfcslatex = .:$TEXMF/{pdftex,tex}/{cslatex,csplain,latex,generic,}//
TEXINPUTS.pdfcsplain = .:$TEXMF/{pdftex,tex}/{csplain,plain,generic,}//

I tested the texlive before CD was released only on my UNIX platforms
because I have no access to MS Windows platforms. Now, one MS Win user
reports a bug with pdftex: He have to change the colons in these lines
to semicolons.

The kpathsea documentation writes (page 31 on the top): 
"A `;' in value is translated to `:' if running under UNIX;
this is useful to write a single texmf.cnf which can be used under
both UNIX and NT."

This sentence means that behavior under UNIX is defined but behavior
under MS Win/NT are not exactly defined and the semicolons are
only recomended here. The another platforms are not defined here.
OK, we can say that the bug is in thexmf.cnf and in
the future versions of TeXlive we change all colons to semicolons.

But my ask is: Why the binaries for MS Win platforms are not compiled
in the similar way as in UNIX, it means that colons and semicolons
are changeable? The existence of semicolons (inspired from DOS) mixed
with slashs (inspired from UNIX) in texmf.cnf is not so aesthetic.

Thank you

Petr Olsak