[tex-live] Tex-Live 2004 Windows Installer

Karl Berry karl at freefriends.org
Sun Nov 28 00:30:21 CET 2004

Hi Jason,

Thanks very much for writing.  This is a big subject.

    I am interested in making a Windows installer (using InstallShield
    or the free Nullsoft NSIS) of TexLive 2004 for Windows. 

FWIW, Fabrice Popineau (long-time maintainer of fpTeX, more or less the
Windows branch of TeX Live) has been working on an InstallShield-based
installer for most of the year.  Perhaps you could help (I'm not sure if
it's in a state where a collaborative effort is possible).

    Could you tell me what steps are required to install a TeXLive

The easiest way to understand this is to do it.  I think the best place
to download TL 2003 for Windows would be from fptex.org.  There were
updates since the actual 2003 discs were cut.

Reading the TL 2003 doc will also give you a sense of what it's about,
there are long sections on the Windows install and maintenance.

The TL 2003 doc is at:
(there are images in that same dir)

    What did the old 2003 installer do? 

I know it was homegrown and not based on InstallShield or anything else,
and that's about the extent of my knowledge.  Fabrice approximately
GUIfied the Unix installer, so doing a Unix TL install would also be
good experience.

    Did it create any registry keys, etc?

Perhaps Fabrice can answer (I don't know).

    Sebastian> the problem for making an installer is that it has to
    either read zip files, or the filesystem. do you have ideas on how
    to do that?

Seb, the existence of the two different distributions doesn't seem like
that big of a problem?  Clearly a Windows installer can/must do
different things from the different sources, just like the Unix installer.

The stopper, in my recollection, is that Fabrice found that
InstallShield cannot feasibly support .zip files, or anything but .cab,
and there no libraries or utilities for Unix supporting compressed .cab,
only uncompressed.  Therefore the same compressed distribution cannot be
used for both Windows and Unix anyway.

However, this NSIS thing apparently supports zlib, bzip, and (something
new to me) lzma.  So that seems promising.

    Jason> have you considered perhaps converting everything to Perl (or
    other scripting language)

Yes, I've considered rewriting the installer in Perl.  But in the
absence of a compelling reason to do so, I/we have spent our time on
other things.  The idea that such an installer could actually work (in
practice) on win32 seemed remote.

    and making a Win32 GUI front end for it?
Well that would be a compelling reason.  Is it really possible? 

After poking around their web pages, I am not clear on what NSIS really
is (although it sounds great :).  A library that an application links
with?  An application that produces another application (the installer)?
Written in C?  C++?  Can it glue into Perl reasonably?

P.S. Everyone, I updated the images one more (last?) time.  Manfred is
putting together the final production set tomorrow at noon, German time ...

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