[tex-live] Why has initex disappeared?

Hans Hagen pragma at wxs.nl
Sun Nov 13 22:16:33 CET 2005

� wrote:

>some Debian users have complained that the initex symlink is missing
>from teTeX 3.0, and I couldn't tell them the reason. Thomas Esser told
>me that he didn't recall the reasons either, but that the discussion
>leading to this decision should be in the texlive archives, or the web2c
>release info.
>I didn't succeed finding it in the texlive archives, and all I could
>find in web2c was
>,---- web2c/ChangeLog
>| 2004-05-08  Olaf Weber  <olaf at infovore.xs4all.nl>
>|         * Makefile.in (install-mf-links, install-mpost-links,
>|         install-tex-links): Do not create initex, virtex, inimf, virmf,
>|         inimpost, virmpost links on installation.  These are all way more
>|         trouble than they're worth.
>but that's not really the background that will allow me to convince our
>users.  It also doesn't give sufficient information for me to judge
>whether resurrecting the link in the Debian packages would work, or even
>if it would is maybe a bad idea.  It's also been suggested to write a
bad idea, just think of who will use them ...

>script that just says that initex has disappeared in favor of "tex
>-ini".  And it has been said 
>| Even though initex has 8 index references in The TeXbook?!  I can
>| imagine Knuth kicking up a fuss when he finds out....
what would Don think if:

- we drop dvi in favor of pdf
- if we extend tex to do this or that
- if we change the way binaries are organizes (no initex)
- if we adapt computer modern fonts
- if ...

don't worry, Don is way more progressive than some users think; also, he 
either uses web2c (which has had the --ini fro years) or compiles his 
own stuff;

Several times i've heard him respond "why wasn't that done ealier ..."

>So the thing seems to be a little emotional :-(
for a long time initex has been integrated; a quarter of a century ago 
it  made sense to distribute two binaries, one with initialization code 
and one without (making more mem available for the real thing)'

the (in your case symlinks, but better think of it as separate binaries) 
were no longer used and replaced by the --ini switch

concerning emotions ... similar thinsg happened with dropping computer 
modern bitmap in favor of type 1 outlines

tell your users that it's called progress (just as assembler was 
replaced by n-th generation languages); for the die-hards: tell them 
that most of tex is still written in pascal -)


ps. actually, with regards to compatibility i'm more concerned about the 
fact that last years tex binaries no longer run on freshly installed 
linux's (this library thing); it makes it nearly impossible to run older 
trees (frozen for projects) on new(ly installed) machines; so there are 
worse nightmares for your users than a missing initex -)


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