[tex-live] private "tl-bin" directory?

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Feb 18 03:08:36 CET 2007

On 2/17/07, Reinhard Kotucha <reinhard.kotucha at web.de> wrote:

> >>>>> "George" == George N White <gnwiii at gmail.com> writes:
>   > Windows problems are very much worse, [...]
> They obviously are, but I don't know whether we (people involved in TL
> development) do everything properly.  Recently I asked about a good
> place for $HOME and the result was that people told me that the
> environments had been quite different on different versions of
> Windows.

Not just versions -- large organizations have quite different setups.
Some want HOME to be a network drive, and hope that any user can
walk up to any PC, log in, and run with their files, but in practice many
applications store things on the C: drive so you end up with messy
login scripts to load the user's settings into the registry.

> What we actually do to adapt TeXLive for Windows is to
> reverse-engineer things.  Is it really true that Windows is
> completely undocumented?

Not undocumented, just undisciplined because it has a legacy of
monolithic apps that take over the machine.

> Does anybody know about documentation in the internet?
>   > Many Windows systems will have the gs installed by the user, [...]
> There are two problems we have with gs for Windows currently:
>   1. The batch files are not installed properly.
>   2. The fonts supplied with gs are problematic because they had been
>      modified but the UniqueID had not been changed.
> The first problem can be solved by reporting the bug to th GS team.
> The second problem is more problematic.  The GPL allows such
> modifications and I don't have the time to start a discussion about
> such things with them.

Users expect to move EPS files around but discover that some files
that can be viewed on system A have font problems in system B.

> I think that in two years GS will be shipped with Jacko's fonts anyway
> because nobody wants to use anything else.

It will take several more years before the older gs installs are updated.

> Then GS can be a separate package which has not to be touched by TL
> developers at all.

Certainly the ideal is to encourage 3rd parties to fix problems (in
functionality or licenses) so they play well with TeX Live, but I
suspect the problem will always be with us, so a mechanism to support
private TL binaries could make it easier to ensure TL has the
necessary 3rd party support with reduced risk of conflicts.
Installers can check to see if gs, perl, etc are available, but the
live version isn't so flexible.

> It would be nice to have a Perl on the CD/DVD which can be installed
> separately from TeXLive.  However, the only reasonable perl
> distribution for Windows is ActivePerl.  It's very good software and
> documentation is amazingly good but its license is horribly stupid.

Which is reason enough to have a stripped down perl that is adequate
for the scripts used by TL.

> AFAIK, what we have now in TeXLive is a Perl generated in a Mingw
> (Minimum GNU for Windows) environment.  This works pretty well though
> I think it would be nicer to use ActivePerl because TeXLive
> developers can save a lot of time then.
> Regarding ActivePerl, I don't understand why people spend an
> enormous amount of time to provide really good software and finally
> put it under such a stupid license.

You can be sure there are people working hard to come up with even
more horrible licenses such as usage based charging.  The problems we
have now will only get worse.

ConTeXt now has a "texmfstart" wrapper that tries to hide the
differences between platforms and TeX systems.   Certainly most
Windows users expect to use TeX in some environment such as
WinEDT (and lament the passing of 4allTeX), and seldom, if ever, use
the command line.   I suppose the extreme would be to leave the
bin/Win32 directory out of the PATH and insist that users who aren't
comfortable with the command line work in an environment that runs
the programs from buttons and menus.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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