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

Alan Munn amunn at gmx.com
Wed Oct 5 23:18:15 CEST 2011

First, thanks to everyone for their comments so far.  I'm replying to Adam's message, but will include snippets from other messages, (particularly Mojca's ) too, rather than reply to everyone individually.

I also want to point out (in case it wasn't clear originally) this is *not* my problem, but rather  is an observation based on dealing with naive users.

On Oct 5, 2011, at 4:23 PM, Maxwell, Adam R wrote:

> On Oct 5, 2011, at 13:11, Reinhard Kotucha wrote:
>> But if you install TeX Live, it doesn't matter where MacTeX looks for
>> files.  Or did I misunderstand something?
> Correct, for TeX itself.  However, it matters with respect to Alan's
> remark that "[most] advice about local additions for Mac users will 
> point people to ~/Library/texmf."  For better or for worse, this has 
> carried over from Gerben Wierda's gwTeX to MacTeX, so we have years of
> documentation and postings on mailing lists telling people to put
> additions in ~/Library/texmf.

Adam has hit the nail on the head with respect to the main aim of my original question.  The vast majority of Mac users will be using MacTeX, and local additions (for better or worse) are going to be in ~/Library/texmf.

On Oct 5, 2011, at 2:51 PM, Mojca Miklavec wrote:
On Oct 5, 2011 Alan Munn wrote:

>> 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).

This is indeed unfortunate, and maybe that alone should cause MacTeX to rethink its placement.  But for the moment this location isn't going to change.

> 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
> you."

Fair enough. Especially when you make the point this way :-).  But recommending MikTeX as opposed to TL is not quite the same as recommending one method of installing TL over another.  So this might be something that install-tl might reasonably do.

>> 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.

True, there are such users, and they don't need any help, one supposes, but I guess my question was aimed at the user who is not doing this with full awareness of what they are doing, and thinking about how we could help this sort of user.

So far I'm convinced that having a uniform value for $TEXMFHOME is a reasonable decision from the install-tl point of view.  However, given the both the ubiquity of the MacTeX version and the huge amount of documentation about local additions on a Mac, wouldn't it be helpful to have some fairly simple way (i.e. without much extra knowledge or extra steps) to have users choose to make their TEXMFHOME ~/Library/texmf  if they are installing on a Mac.  Ideally this would be part of the install script rather than having people edit texmf.cnf either with an editor or via tlmgr.


Alan Munn
amunn at gmx.com

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