[tex-live] TEXMFHOME when using install-tl on a Mac

Mojca Miklavec mojca.miklavec.lists at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 20:51:19 CEST 2011

On Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 18:22, Alan Munn wrote:
> Most of us who use Macs install the fantastic MacTeX version of TL, but every so often the odd Mac user (pun intended) installs TL using install-tl.  Sometimes this is in fact necessary, since MacTeX requires admin access to install, so a user without admin rights can't use MacTeX, I think.
> So here's the question: what does install-tl assume is the value to TEXMFHOME when it runs on a Mac?
> This Stack Exchange question, which describes such a case <http://tex.stackexchange.com/q/30494/2693>, seems to show that it defaults to /home/<user>/texmf

That is true.

> If true, this is an unfortunate decision, since 99% of all advice about local additions for Mac users will point people to /Users/<user>/Library/texmf.

And 99% of Lion users don't know how to navigate to ~/Library any more
since Apple decided to hide that folder (apparently it is dangerous if
users mess up with it).

> On a related note, it might be helpful to have some very strongly worded messages in install-tl recommending MacTeX over install-tl for Mac

Do you mean messages on web page or during installation?

http://www.tug.org/texlive/ says

    Quick install for Unix; installation and release notes for
Windows; for MacOSX, see the MacTeX distribution.

And the first link points to document that starts with:

    If you don't want to read the basic install documentation and just
want to install everything in TeX Live, on a Unix-like system, a
minimal recipe follows. Special considerations for Windows are
described separately. For MacOSX, we recommend installing MacTeX,
which contains all of TeX Live (and a few Mac-specific additions).
Cygwin users can follow the instructions for Unix-like systems, but
make sure you have the prerequisites before beginning the

But I don't see any reason why install-tl (bash script) should
complain. Imagine that install-tl.bat would print out something like:
    "Are you aware that MikTeX is a lot more user-friendly than TeX
Live? Are you absolutely sure that you want to install this? Please,
think twice. Unless you know what you are doing, TeX Live is not for

> unless (i) the person really knows what they are doing and/or (ii) it's absolutely necessary.

I agree that it might not be clear from the first glimpse what to
install (when you go to firefox, you get a big "full-screen" button
screaming "download me please"), but I don't see any convincing reason
why TeX Live should change defaults for TEXMFHOME. Those who want to
use MacTeX get the sensible defaults already.

Those who use pure TeX Live more often than not want to have identical
settings over multiple machines. And if you install pure TeX Live, you
need to fiddle with PATH settings anyway. It doesn't work out of the
box as it does for MacTeX users. Imagine the mess if every linux user
would ask for binaries under /this/path and support files under
/that/path since that is convention of his linux distribution.


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