[tex-live] Debian-TeXlive Proposal II

Frank Küster frank at kuesterei.ch
Tue Jan 25 15:32:10 CET 2005

"Gerben Wierda" <Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl> wrote:

> My apologies for being so underinformed, but can someone point me to an
> explanation of what Debian packages are and what they do? Or just explain
> it to me here?

A Debian package (as well as a SusE rpm, or Fedora rpm, or whatever) is
an archive of some piece of software (in this case, tex-live or some
part of it) which is specially taylored for one system (Debian, SuSE or
Fedora), so that it can easily be installed and registered on that
system, and integrated into its infrastructure. Kind of this "Welcome to
the InstallShield Wizard which will guide you through..."

> Should I be worried that TL will become less OS-independent as it is now?
> Not all users are on Linux ;-)

No, not at all. The aim is to make it easier for Debian users to install
tex-live, and keep it up to date. 

It might not be obvious to a Windows user (and maybe even an
old-fashioned Mac user) what is needed that is not already provided by
the current tex-live CD's. The main point is dependencies: If there is
some add-on package for LaTeX on Debian or on SuSE, or something that
uses TeX to typeset its output, this package needs some kind of TeX
installed. On Windows, IIRC, this would mean that a well done install
procedure would check its existense, and either refuse to install or
offer to download some minimal TeX distribution. Don't know about

On Linux, you wouldn't klick on a setup.exe for the add-on package, but
rather start your central installation tool (yast, or aptitude, or
whatever), browse the package list until you get to the desired package,
and by the control information included in that package, the
installation tool would know that TeX has to be installed first.

Unfortunately, at least for Debian there are currently only teTeX
packages of that kind. Therefore every Debian package that uses TeX will
force you to install teTeX, even if you already have tex-live
installed. With a Debian package of tex-live, you'd have the option to

> (e.g. I read about stuff with "mount --bind", isn't that Linux specific?
> Does that exist in Darwin or other Unices?) Etc.

I don't know. But you can be sure that if such commands are used, they
will be used only in the Linux-specific part. Or rather they are an
option to be used by a local administrator.

Regards, Frank
Frank Küster
Inst. f. Biochemie der Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer

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