showhyphens gone?

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at
Sat Aug 27 23:53:23 CEST 2022

On 2022-08-27 at 17:05:50 +0200, Frank Mittelbach wrote:

 > Am 27.08.22 um 15:46 schrieb Per Starbäck:
 > > Manfred Lotz <manfred at> writes:
 > > 
 > >> The showhyphens author Patrick Gundlach decided in June that
 > >> showhyphens should be moved to obsolete in CTAN. If a package
 > >> gets moved to obsolete/ tree then it will be removed from
 > >> texlive.
 > > 
 > > Thanks for the explanation! Is that really a good policy, though?
 > > To me it seems obviously good if a Texlive release is rather
 > > stable, and it would be better if obsoletion meant that the
 > > package isn't included in the *next release* of Texlive.
 > > 
 > I think this is worth contemplating. It would help with some nasty
 > surprises (and even though one could still reinstall from CTAN) it
 > seems a good policy that TL XX represents the software corpus that
 > is on the TL XX DVD + bug fixes and additions that happened during
 > the year XX but not suddenly dropping packages while XX is the
 > current version.

Hi Frank,
I fully agree with you in general.  But there are a few things to be
considered as well.

In an ideal world there wouldn't be different TeX Live releases at
all.  Some Linux distributors provide "rolling releases" already
(Gentoo, Arch Linux) where you install the system only once.  The
system can be updated any time later without the need to ever install
it again.

This would also be fine for TeX Live and a DVD would then would
provide just a snapshot taken at a particular time.  Because TeX Live
can only provide what's on CTAN, there is no dependeny of package
release numbers and TeX Live releases numbers.

The only reason there are distinct TeX Live releases is that many
people are involved when new binaries have to be compiled.  Many
platforms are to be supported and all of them have to behave equally.
There is absolutely no way to provide new binaries more often than
once a year.

As far as [La]TeX packages are concerned we can assume that TeX Live
already provides "rolling releases".  Most users install via the
network and update immediately afterwards, so they have a snapshot
rather than a distinct version of TeX Live.

I'm aware that the removal of packages is always problematic.  But all
TeX Live can do is to provide what is currently on CTAN.  TeX Live
only removes packages if their licenses are not appropriate.

Everything else is up to the package authors.  They are the only
persons who can make such decisions.  And both, TeX Live and CTAN,
take author's requests very serious for obvious reasons.  

In this particular case a package was removed because its author
thought that people should use the replacement instead.  It is
unfortunate if this breaks existing documents but this is quite
unrelated to TeX Live release numbers.  Keeping the removed package in
TeX Live 2022 only postpones the problem.

Another point to consider is that Linux distributors provide distinct
versions of TeX Live.  But if they provide updates too, their systems
cannot be in sync with a particular release of TeX Live anymore.

Frank, if you think that it's worthwhile to put the showhyphens
package back to CTAN, it's necessary to convince the author.

But then I don't see any reason to remove it again when TeX Live 2023
is released.  If we want to make sure that existing documents are not
broken by removed packages the release number of TeX Live shouldn't
matter at all.


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at

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