[tex-live] updmap.cfg query

Rowland McDonnell rjmmnet-lists at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jul 24 16:27:25 CEST 2009

(can someone tell me if I'm doing the wrong thing by emailing this to
multiple recipients directly rather than to the tex-live mailing list

>Rowland McDonnell wrote:
>> >It's <your-texlive-root>/texmf-config/web2c/updmap.cfg
>> Is that the file to which:
>> updmap-sys --enable Map=MAPFILE
>> adds data to?


>> If so, what is the protocol that ensures it will not be modified when
>> updates to the texlive distro are performed with the official tools 
>> such as tlmgr?
>There is none, it will be modified.

Righto - ta.

> But only using calls 
>   updmap-sys --enable ...
>   updmap-sys --disable ...
>for mapfiles that are part of TeX Live. So as long as your map files
>use different names, tlmgr will not change their status (but when you
>call tlmgr generate updmap).

Thank you.  It's getting much easier to make progress here now - in
large part thanks to your patient help.  No, really - I'm starting to be
able to work a few `complicated' things out myself (they're complicated
for /me/).

I'm beginning to understand the structure of TeX Live and how things fit
together - only the first glimmerings, but that's a big step for me and
you've been very helpful.

>BTW, this is all documented in tlmgr --help, so the man page, the web
>page generated from it, etc.

Thank you for telling me where the information is published.  My failure
to understand that man page is why I had to ask a human being.

I think it would be helpful for you hugely-brained experts to understand
what it's like for us mere mortals when faced with that sort of thing.

So here I go again:

I'm writing my own MacTeX installation-and-management document to
explain to me the things I need to know, and the information in it is
almost all taken from the helpful things that kind folk such as yourself
have told me about TeX Live rather than anything I've been able to work
out from the documentation.  With luck, I'll eventually have some
documentation on TeX Live that permits me to install and manage MacTeX
in a sane and intelligent fashion.  Perhaps I'll even have learnt enough
to use the supplied TeX Live documentation.

(If I can knock the result into a shape that's not too embarrassing, of
course I'll release it into the wild - I can't be the only baffled Mac
user of TeX Live.  If anyone wants to see that document in its current
dreadful state, I'd be happy to email it to you but on the understanding
that at the moment, you're only allowed to laugh at it, not distribute

Now that I have had the appropriate section of that man page pointed out
to me, and had it explained to me by you and some other helpful people,
I agree: these points are documented NEARLY as you state; but in a
fashion that's almost deliberately user-unfriendly.  In particular, the
man page in question is missing certain crucial details.

For example: I cannot find anything which tells me that updmap-sys
--enable and updmap-sys --disable are the mechanisms whereby tlmgr
changes the file <your-texlive-root>/texmf-config/web2c/updmap.cfg (path
specified by TEXMFSYSVAR).  It's small missing details like that leave
me stuck.

tcfmgr gets referred to - I can't find anything to tell me what tcfmgr
might be.

Most of that man page is - for me - impossible to understand without a
little help to explain things properly.  So much is assumed by way of
reader understanding, so much is missing.

Simply to explain what I mean by that, I present an example from the
tlmgr man page where I read the following:

Lists those packages which occur as dependencies in an installed
collections, but are themselves not installed.

And you're probably thinking `Well, that's all perfectly
straightforward'.  What I'm thinking is (`exactly, in this context' is
to be appended to all the following questions):

`What is a collection?  What is a package?  What is a dependency?  What
does `installed' mean?'

Perhaps those terms are explained somewhere, but to find that
information, I have to read a lot of documentation that I do not
understand due to the swamp of unfamiliar terms.  I've tried to find
definitions for the above terms and failed.

The first page of the tlmgr man page is almost completely impossible for
me to understand due to that reason - and if I can't understand the
first thing, how am I to understand any of it?  Package?  Scheme?
Collection? TLPBD?  I do not know what these terms mean exactly, nor can
I find definitions.

I've failed to find a definition of `collection' in the above context by
looking through the TeX Live 2008 guide and the tlmgr man page.  That
failure took about 20 minutes; I learnt nothing during the process, not
even finding pointers to any other possible information sources.

Do you begin to understand the problem?  btw, I'm used to this very slow
progress - if I can get a few more things understood, things will begin
to fall into place and I'll be more able to work things out myself.
It's how it goes.  TeX Live is just a bit more complicated than most
software I deal with.

Thanks once more for your excellent help and patience with an ignorant


>Best wishes
>Dr. Norbert Preining <preining at logic.at>        Vienna University of 
>Debian Developer <preining at debian.org>                         Debian 
>TeX Group
>gpg DSA: 0x09C5B094      fp: 14DF 2E6C 0307 BE6D AD76  A9C0 D2BF 4AA3 
>09C5 B094
>HASTINGS (pl.n.)
>Things said on the spur of the moment to explain to someone who comes
>into a room unexpectedly precisely what it is you are doing.
>           --- Douglas Adams, The Meaning of Liff

More information about the tex-live mailing list