[tex-live] TL 13 -- how many maintained installations are there?

Nelson H. F. Beebe beebe at math.utah.edu
Tue Apr 15 23:04:34 CEST 2014

A list reader asks the question today about ``how many maintained
installations [of TeX Live] are there??''.

Because of mirroring, lending of DVDs, installation inside private
networks, and installation on machines that never get updated, it is
impossible to tell how many such installations there are.

More to the point is the observation that in Mathematics, Physics, and
Computer Science Departments in academia, (La)TeX is the universal
markup language for scientific documents.  It is the major, perhaps
only, format accepted at arxiv.org, which today reports holdings or
more than 930,000 articles.  Almost all society and noncommercial
journals in those fields use (La)TeX for journal page production.

TeX Live packages are present in most major GNU/Linux distributions,
and thus, are downloaded and installed by people who are often far
removed from the various TeX User Group communities.

Also, TeXware gets downloaded from CTAN mirrors as well as from TeX
Live mirrors.  The Utah CTAN mirror has supplied almost 902,000 files
since the beginning of 2014, but there are many other mirrors. Within
our own site, we have thousands of users and about 300 machines: how
would I count which users and machines are using TeXware without
detailed process accounting?

Finally, in this era of excessive surveillance, as predicted before
1950 by George Orwell in his famous book, 1984, why should we collect
use data?  Surely some users would consider their software habits a
private matter, even if, in the USA, legal practice appears to ignore
issues of personal privacy in favor of corporate, and in particular,
government, data collection for financial gain and `national
security' protection.

- Nelson H. F. Beebe                    Tel: +1 801 581 5254                  -
- University of Utah                    FAX: +1 801 581 4148                  -
- Department of Mathematics, 110 LCB    Internet e-mail: beebe at math.utah.edu  -
- 155 S 1400 E RM 233                       beebe at acm.org  beebe at computer.org -
- Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0090, USA    URL: http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe/ -

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