[tex-live] Comment on Re: TeXLive-CD/DVD (Installation)

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Wed May 23 16:05:43 CEST 2007

On 5/22/07, Nelson H. F. Beebe <beebe at math.utah.edu> wrote:

> If a simple, freely-distributable, standalone POSIX shell for Windows
> (NT, ME, 2000, XP, VISTA, ...) could be found, along with the set of
> several dozen command-line utilities required by POSIX, then an
> installer written as a POSIX shell script could easily handle all
> current platforms on which TeX Live is likely to be installed.

There are POSIX shells for Windows, including msys bash
and the MKS Toolkit.  I have used both, and have even ported some
unix scripts to Windows.  There are some tricky constraints when
using them:

1.  you have to be careful about case: "Makefile" and "makefile" can't
coexist.  This shouldn't be a big problem for TeX.

2.  many things break as soon as they are spread across multiple drives.
Msys does some tricks to map the Msys root to "/", so things you install
can end up in unexpected places.

3.  performance problems: starting processes is slow and AV scanning
adds overhead.  To me, this is the big advantage of a scripting language
that embeds the capabilities you have to get from utilities using shell

It might be possible to use the same install scripts if you allow some
preliminary setup on Windows, but there would likely be some annoying
constraints on the way the *x scripts must be written.  Even with the best
intentions, it is hard to be disciplined if you don't actually use the
installer on Windows (or anywhere else).   Testing would be impractical if
the Windows install ties up a machine for half a day.

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

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