[tex-live] Script to update packages

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Mar 11 12:51:04 CET 2007

On 3/10/07, Reinhard Kotucha <reinhard.kotucha at web.de> wrote:

> >>>>> "François" == François Charette <firmicus at ankabut.net> writes:
>   > Well, I have written a shell script, based on install-pkg.sh that
>   > comes with the live CD, to automate this task. Provided the
>   > package has been also updated on the TeX Live SVN repository
>   > (which in most cases happens soon after), the script will fetch
>   > the necessary files from the tug.org/texlive server via rsync. I
>   > doubt this would potentially create bandwidth problems, but Karl
>   > should definitively tell us whether this is acceptable or not.

The MiKTeX package manager has been ported to *X and can be used to maintain
a texmf tree, e.g., texmf-updates.  My impression is that MiKTeX
binaries tend to lag behind TL (due to the effort needed to port *X
code), but that MiKTeX's texmf tree tracks CTAN fairly closely through
regular package updates.   I think there may be a few cases (ConTeXt?)
where current versions aren't available to MikTeX because they rely on
current binaries, but for the vast majority of packages it is a bug if
they don't support both MiKTeX and TL.

The TeX users I encounter are mostly involved in large projects where
some authors are on *X and some on Windows, so it is important that
documents work in either environment.  There are also users who have
to switch environments and need documents created on their previous
environment to work in the new environment.

> The packages and tpm files are updated in the repository only and no
> zip files are created at this point.  The zip files you downloaded
> from ftp://ftp.tug.org/texlive/Contents/inst are exactly the same
> files which are on the CD.  Downloading any files from there is not
> necessary.
> I also doubt that it is a good idea to make package updates from files
> in the repository.  You can never be sure that they are working
> properly.  I remember that recently a package had been moved from one
> directory to another one.  In this case you probably end up with two
> different versions in different directories and it is unclear which
> one will be found by tex.

There are advantages to everyone having the same TL tree.  In case of
trouble you can
rename texmf-local and $HOME/texmf and confirm the problem with a configuration
available to all.

> Using files from the repository makes sense for testing only.
> However, testers are always welcome.  In this case I recommend to use
> rsync to keep the system up-to-date.  A lot of bandwidth and time can
> be saved if people copy the content of the CD first to the Master
> directory before they run rsync initially.

Yes -- this method is practical even for people (such as myself) with
dialup access.

> Being able to update TeXLive packages would be nice.  However, I
> thought a lot about this in the past.  TeXLive is simply a lot of
> work, most of the work is done by Karl, and I do not see that anybody
> has enough time to maintain package updates.

The key to reducing the effort required to maintain TeXLive is to
improve CTAN.  If TL users test new things from CTAN with TL binaries
before they are put into the repository, fixes can get into CTAN

> I also do not think that everybody has to have always the latest
> releases.  If some package on the CD is completely broken I think
> it's sufficient if the author sends a fixed version to CTAN.  It
> should be TDS-1.1 compliant so that it can be installed easily.
> Of course, a package updating system would be nice, but I fear that it
> costs too much time.

The time is being spent for MikTeX.  Using the MiKTeX package manager
to maintain a texmf-updates tree for *X systems is a practical way for
many TL users to get current packages, encourages resolving problems
before the updates get into TL and discourages gratutious divergences
between TL (leading distro for *X) and MiKTeX (leading distro for

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

More information about the tex-live mailing list