[tex-live] free software, DFSG

John Plaice plaice at cse.unsw.edu.au
Sun Jun 6 00:22:43 CEST 2004

Sebastian is correct.  The cult of the personality has been a very
important factor in limiting Omega development and deployment.
When I went to the 1993 TUG meeting in Birmingham, UK, the response
from many was of the sort "How dare you modify TeX?"

The cult ensured that the NTS project was stillborn, by insisting
that 100% TeX compatibility be maintained, right down to the structure
of error messages!

A personality cult is a complex phenomenom.  Often the cult prevents
the followers or the disciples from listening to what the subject
of the cult is actually saying.  The fact that Knuth has repeatedly
said that he is not going to improve or transform TeX is interpreted
by the cultists as "No-one should improve or transform TeX".

Progress takes place when nothing is considered to be sacrosanct.
I see a complete TeX rewrite, that goes well beyond TeX, and without
the cult of 100% TeX compatibility, taking place within 3 years,
at the very most.


John Plaice

On Fri, Jun 04, 2004 at 01:20:46PM +0200, David Kastrup wrote:
> Sebastian Rahtz <sebastian.rahtz at computing-services.oxford.ac.uk> writes:
> > >  If TeXlive is built on TeX, I think it's bound to accept "Knuthian"
> > >from everyone, not only from DEK himself.
> > I don't agree. I see no reason at all to copy Knuth's historical
> > mistakes.  I agree that his stuff on TL is anomalous, but it is a
> > known weirdness. Personally, I think that cult of personality which
> > pervades the TeX world is one of its biggest problems.
> Give the man a break...
> I don't see a problem with a Knuth cult: if people actually listened
> to him, they'd get the message clear enough that TeX has been
> abandoned by him as a project and that he considers it a curiosity
> that people cling to it in the manner they do.
> And, of course, all of the stuff is impossible to maintain.  Add a
> feature and recompile?  Good luck.

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