[tex-live] ifxetex package missing from collection-xetex

Philip Taylor (Webmaster) P.Taylor at Rhul.Ac.Uk
Tue Feb 6 13:58:42 CET 2007

George N. White III wrote:

 > What users say they want is seldom a reliable guide for software developers.

Yes, I notice that Microsoft frequently adopt this philosophy.

 > How many of the packages you use on WIn32 were cross compiled on
 > linux?

How would I know ?

 > Was the documentation formatted with TeX?

No (for 99.9% of the packages).

 > How TL works on *x may be of no immediate interest to you, but
 > there are benefits to all TeX users from having a reliable, widely
 > available, TeX system.

I have never sought to dispute that.

   Because TeX is used for documentation by many
 > projects, even people who don't use TeX themselves often rely on
 > documents created by others or through some automated build system
 > using TeX.

This is going /seriously/ off at a tangent ...

[long irrelevancy snipped]

 > There is considerable tension between those who want TeX to be
 > portable and those working on improvements who just want to get a new
 > capability working on their platform and don't have resources to deal
 > with platforms they don't use.   It is a fact of life that there are
 > significant difference between platforms and real effort is needed to
 > make things work across a range of platforms.  This effort is
 > worthwhile because it helps keep a strong, unified TeX community where
 > new ideas and improvements are widely shared, as opposed to a
 > fragmented community where ideas and improvements never spread beyond
 > the users of a particular platform, and where using TeX becomes an
 > obstacle to switching platforms because your favorite macro package
 > make heavy use of image formats and \special's specific to your
 > current platform.

This is closer to the point at issue ...

 > One FAQ is "I need TeX and <programing language du jour> -- what OS
 > should I use?".

Are you serious ?

 > In my view, it is important that TeXLive be a viable successor for
 > tetex in linux distributions.  Already there are small differences
 > creeping in (as patches to fix bugs) to some linux distros

I assume this is hacker-speak for "distributions"

 > while others languish.  Over time, developers will find that documentation
 > formats on some systems but not others (due to different bugs but also
 > to differences in supported languages).

Once you leave behind the cosy, isolated, highly-protected world of
TeX /qua/ TeX, and move into the real world where the prefixes
"Pdf" and "e-" proliferate, you start to experience the real
world phenomenon of divergent evolution.  But as Darwin made
clear over 100 years ago, this is no bad thing : "survival of
the fittest" is just as important in computer software as it
is in the evolution of species.  And it is for this very reason
that I made my original point, which is that I do not see it
as being /essential/ that a TeX Live DVD contains /identical/
releases for every possible platform.  If the developer for
platform  $x$ are able to make a last-minute vital bug fix,
or to (for example) address the issue of forcing a first-time
install at the user's request even where there are traces of
an older installation, then I see no compelling reason why
those improvements should not make it onto the DVD, even if
they are platform-specific at that point in time.  The probability
is very high that other platform developers will soon be able to
follow suit, and provided that there is a simple, clean,
mechanism for performing incremental upgrades from the network
rather than having to wait a year (or more) for the next TeX
Live release, then I see no reason at all to compel the DVD
compilers to work to the lowest common denominator.

** Phil.

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