[tex-live] tlmgr query

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Jul 26 17:42:22 CEST 2009

On Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 10:40 PM, Reinhard
Kotucha<reinhard.kotucha at web.de> wrote:
> On 24 July 2009 Rowland McDonnell wrote:
>  >> Rowland McDonnell wrote:
>  > (once upon a time, I could learn how to use software much more easily,
>  > but that was in the days when software came with proper manuals)
> TeX Live comes with proper manuals too.
>  > Do please understand that I am a Mac user and not any sort of Unix
>  > expert at all.  In particular, I find it very hard to understand
>  > man pages and I am *NOT* familiar with the structure of TeX Live.
>  > I have tried to become familiar, but I have failed to find much
>  > documentation I can learn from.  Remember, I'm not a Unix expert:
>  > I'm a bewildered Mac user.
> I understand.  But this is a general problem with GUIs and operating
> systems depending on GUIs.  They support everything what normal users
> need, but if you need something which is not supported already you are
> lost.  I suppose that's why Norbert mentioned M$ Word.

These days there are two types of Mac users -- those who have no interest
or inclination to read manuals and those who seem MacOSX as an
of-the-shelf unix workstation.  There are also those people who want to
understand what the command-line tools are doing an others who only
want an incantation they can use without the bother of understanding.

> If you need more, you have to learn to read manual pages.  This is
> unavoidable.

And can be rewarding.  WYSIWYG also means WYSIAYG ("what you see
is all you get").

>  > >> I'd like to find out how to get tlmgr -gui to generate a
>  > >> configuration information listing as:
>  > >>
>  > >> texconfig conf
>  > >
>  > >It does not, neither does tlmgr. Use texconfig.
>  >
>  > Thank you again.  I had read a lot of things telling me that I
>  > should use tlmgr instead of texconfig.  It seems that the advice is
>  > not properly thought out since texconfig can do things that tlmgr
>  > cannot.

> The sole reason that texconfig still exists is that not everything can
> be done at the same time.
>  > (and someone else told me that the command executed is fmtutil
>  > --all).
> The first thing I recommend you is to learn reading manual pages.
> The fmtutil man page is quite clear in this respect.
>  > Now I have to find out what fmtutil-sys --all does and exactly how
>  > it differs from fmtutil --all.  I'm stuck at the moment.  I have
>  > read the man page, but it does not tell me what the commands do in
>  > exact detail.
> It explains the difference.  If it's not detailed enough, there is
> also the source code.  But you obviously didn't read the TeX Live
> manual already.
>  > Remember that I'm a Mac user and I do not - yet - understand the
>  > structure of texlive.  A lot of things you take for granted are
>  > alien to me.
> You first have to learn reading manual pages.  And please don't bore
> us with phrases like "Remember that I'm a Mac user...".  There are
> thousands of Mac users using TeX Live already but you are the only one
> who claims that Mac users are idiots.  This is definitely not true.
> You are obviously an exception.
>  >>> What does `Re-initialize file database' mean?
>  >>
>  >>Calling
>  >>   mktexlsr
>  >>(was that difficult?)
>  >
>  > I do not understand your question.
>  >
>  > It was impossible for me to work out what `Re-initialize file database'
>  > meant.  I had absolutely no hints at all.  It was not hard: it was
>  > impossible.
> No hints at all???  It's described in the TeX Live manual on page 30.
> Did you ever read it?  Please read the whole document first.
>  > I am not familiar with the command mktexlsr.  I am not a Unix guru.
> You don't have to be a Unix guru in order to use mktexlsr.
>  > I am not a long-standing expert in the care and maintenence of
>  > texlive.  I am a Mac user who used to know exactly what he was
>  > doing with OzTeX and is now trying hard to come to grips with a
>  > radically different approach to setting up and using a TeX system.
>  >
>  > I'm finding it very hard work.

OzTeX had the advantage that it was only for Mac, but seems to have
languished along with many other commercial TeX systems.  TeX Live
tries to provide a current TeX environment supporting Windows, legacy
unix, and Apple unix.   That it does work is a major achievement, but
it is unrealistic to expect documentation that is accessible to users
of every background and interest.

> Did you ever try
>   texdoc texlive
> ?
>  > Before an update is started by what, exactly?  I can't find
>  > anything that tells me and I can't work it out.
> Your TeX Live system is updated each time a sack of rice falls down
> from a truck in China.  Or do you expect anything else?
>  > I don't even know what `backup' means in this context.
> If you don't know what an update is, just don't update your system.
> Then you don't have to know what a backup is.
>  > Nor do I know what a `package' is in this context.
> I now get the impression that you are kidding us.
>  > I know about LaTeX packages (pkg files - and their dtx/ins source
> What is a pkg file?
>  > Please believe me that I have put a lot of time and effort into
>  > finding my own answers to the above questions.
> Forget your own answers.  Read the documentation instead.
>  > (In my experience, man pages are only really useful for people who
>  > already understand the subject of the man page.  I've read many of
>  > them and I always get a headache when reading man pages.)
>  > I'm not asking because I'm lazy: I'm asking because I simply can't
>  > get to grips with the available documentation.
> You are obviously the only one who is unable to read documentation.
> Regarding your headaches, please consult a physician.  The TeX Live
> team is not responsible for your disability, please read the license.

I'm sure there are many people like Rowland but who don't announce their
problems in public, or who give up after a few emails.

I think it is true that the documentation is not accessible to certain
groups of TeX users, but this is more due to gaps in the reader's
background and that can't be overcome in a mailing list.   This is
a growing problem as a new generation of graduates who know only
GUI apps on MS WIndows and MS Office enter the workforce (the
same group that confuses the editor/environment, e.g., WinEDT, with
the TeX system).

David Walden's PracTEX articles
<http://www.walden-family.com/public/texland/> may be useful.

Many people find it helps to take an introduction to programming
course at a local community college or technical school.  Even
though they don't intend to every write a program, a good course
will make computing less like magic and more like something

Apart from minor tweaks, all TeX Live can do is add pointers to
background reading for those who find the documentation hard to follow.
The <linuxcommand.org> site by William Shotts, Jr.  also applies to
unix, including macosx.  The "Who, What, Where, Why?" page provides
many references to related material.  There are many introductory perl
documents, such as <http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/perl/course.html>.

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

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