[tex-live] Re: Debian-TeXlive Proposal II

Hans Hagen pragma at wxs.nl
Mon Jan 31 18:28:14 CET 2005

Frank Küster wrote:

> You mean, you suggest that we move all files to TEXMFMAIN, but create an
> empty directory referenced by TEXMFDIST?  What would be the benefit of
> this approach?  

safeguard for user updates

> Local administrators should never put any files below /usr/share on a
> Debian system, and Debian packages shouldn't use TEXMFDIST, either. What
> would I gain by starting to support TEXMFDIST?

actually, since your starting point is tex live, you're talking about dropping 
texmf-dist, and that's just asking for work; it does not hurt to have that empty 

imagine a user who downloads something from the internet (user group website, 
ctan, whatever) which is packaged (zipped or so) in the texlive directory 
structure using texmf-dist); normally the root tree is not part of such a 
package and so users will install in texmf-local, but there is no danger in 
providing the dist-subtree as well;

> P.S. The reason why Debian packages must install add-on files into the
> same trees as tetex/tex-live does is that it would generally be a bug to
> shadow a file provided by the main TeX package.  If packages generally
> installed files into a different tree, I fear such bugs would occur
> frequently, between teTeX/tex-live and add-on packages, or between two
> add-on packages, one of which installs into TEXMFMAIN, the other into
> the new TEXMFDIST.

normally users will update in texmf-local or in a $home based tree; but you 
cannot be dure of that, so things may end up in the place where users think they 
belong, for instance because the manuals tell them

concerning bugs ... installing a linux-package (from distributer) and tex live 
(from user group cdrom) on one system never worked well, users can best best 
stick on one or the other [and spraking from the user groups point of view, i.e. 
support, the closer one sticks to texlive or miktex, the better)

> We do consider to provide an additional tree for packages that
> deliberately want to provide newer versions of input files than in teTeX
> (or tex-live), especially for things that are under heavy development,
> like the experimental to-be-LaTeX-3 packages (xkeyval...), or perhaps
> new things like beamer. 

as long as it's not called texmf-extra since that one is already taken for goodies

> But this is a different concept than what TEXMFDIST was designed for.
> First, it's not about easily replacing files, it's about deliberately
> shadowing them.  Second, it is a problem that only occurs on a
> distribution with some kind of package management system.  If you

i must admit that i'm not a fan of texmf-dist, i just use texmf and alongside a 
bunch of texmf-platform[/bin|/web2c] paths since i run multiple os's and they 
share the common files; the texmf|texmf-dist model assumes that the whole bunch 
of binaries is in sync which is not always true and then pool files can get in 
the way

> install teTeX or tex-live manually, either you update the complete texmf
> tarball (which is easier using TEXMFDIST), or you install updated
> packages into LOCALTEXMF. On Debian, however, there is a third option:
> Someone else does the installation for you, and you only pick the
> package from the package manager. This cannot go into LOCALTEXMF (which
> is still the realm of the local administrator), and it cannot go into
> TEXMFMAIN (or TEXMFDIST if it exists), because one package may not
> override an other ones files.

yeah ... sysadm's ... my experience is that they don't like updating tex; for 
instance, installing tex live on a system that already has one of those old tex 
trees laying around [one that got installed when installing the system] in a 
pain; the average user - if already aware of how tex hooks into his/her system - 
is not able to figure out why old trees are found while new ones are installed, 
for instance because profiles have hard codes paths to them, or because 
texmf.cnf is not located under a web2c path but in etc or so;

it is for this reason that i think that merging the trees is not so much a 
problem, but adapting texmf.cnf (for instance by dropping the dist path) is 
asking for trouble, but on the other hand, tex live users by now know that hey 
should not mix distributions -)


PS. imagine what happens when users who have a working system update from their 
standard installation to tex live (incompatible changes in 2005) and after that 
using tetex 3.0 repackaged by debian; right now i start getting reports about 
such messed up systems and the best advice i can give those users is to buy a 
new machine dedicated for typesetting, and keep it far away from uncontrolled 
opdated -)


                                           Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
               Ridderstraat 27 | 8061 GH Hasselt | The Netherlands
      tel: 038 477 53 69 | fax: 038 477 53 74 | www.pragma-ade.com
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