[texhax] MacTeX installation

Tom Schneider toms at ncifcrf.gov
Sat Jan 31 00:29:04 CET 2009

I'm posting the following with permission from Richard as it contains
interesting history for the TeX archive.

> Alex,
> Thanks for your very accurate reply to Tom.
> Tom,
> Good debugging. I think you are now in business, so this email is  
> really just "for the record."
> >>
> >> TeXHaXers:
> >>
> >> I usually use LaTeX from the command line (or scripts) so I tested
> >> that and found one small discrepancy.
> >>
> >> %  which latex
> >> /usr/bin/latex
> >>
> >> Then:
> >>
> >> % cd /usr/bin
> >> % ls -l latex
> >> lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  45 Mar 22  2006 latex@ -> /usr/local/ 
> >> texlive/2005/bin/i386-darwin/latex
> >>
> >> That is, the pointer in /usr/bin was not updated, so I was still  
> >> using
> >> the old latex installation.  I did that by hand using ln and sudo:
> >>
> >> lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  50 Jan 28 14:26 latex@ -> /usr/local/ 
> >> texlive/2008/bin/universal-darwin/latex
> >>
> >> If it is possible, I would suggest making this modification to the
> >> installation script.  Actually, I changed the name to latex2005 just
> >> so I could get back to it.  An option to delete the previous
> >> installation probably would be useful too.
> >>
> >> Regards,
> >>
> >> TomAutomated subscription management: http://tug.org/mailman/listinfo/texhax
> >> Human mailing list managers: postmaster at tug.org
> >
> Here's the history. I'm going to tell you more than you really want to  
> know.
> In 2005, most people I know were using teTeX on the Mac as packaged by  
> Gerben Wierda. Some people were using TeX Live, and some were using  
> teTeX as packaged by Fink. The majority of front ends for TeX had  
> preference settings where users could set the path to their TeX  
> distribution. Usually the default preference pointed to Gerben's  
> distribution. Folks using TeX Live or Fink had to manually reset this  
> preference. Gerben's installation added the appropriate element to the  
> default PATH variable for folks using a shell.
> I believe the default installation script for TeX Live did not set a  
> symbolic link in /usr/bin, but instead ended with a suggestion that  
> the user modify their PATH variable by hand to point to the new  
> distribution. But perhaps an option in the script set this link. No  
> copy of MacTeX ever set that link; indeed MacTeX first existed around  
> 2005 and installed Gerben's teTeX.
> Then Thomas Esser announced that support for teTeX would end on May,  
> 2006.  Esser recommended that users switch to TeX Live. I and many of  
> my colleagues ignored this announcement and thought "Gerben will take  
> care of it." And indeed Gerben developed a revised distribution using  
> a subset of the TeX Live texmf tree. Gerben had always used the TeX  
> Live binaries rather than binaries from Esser; indeed Gerben is the  
> guy who compiled these binaries for the Mac portion of TeX Live. The  
> new distribution was called gwTeX. Gerben publicly announced this  
> distribution in November of 2006, and he simultaneously announced that  
> he would stop supporting it in January of 2007 !!!
> It is at that moment that many people, including me, took notice. A  
> new edition of MacTeX was just around the corner. Should it install  
> teTeX, or gwTeX, or TeX Live?
> I installed TeX Live for the first time on my machine in November,  
> 2006. To my enormous surprise, the installation script was very  
> straightforward. I belong to TUG and had talked often to Karl Berry,  
> one of the creators of TeX Live, but he never once asked the obvious  
> question, which was "why don't you Mac guys use TeX Live?"
> After just a few days it was clear that TeX Live could easily replace  
> Gerben's distribution. But for the next six months or more, I  
> maintained three experimental versions of the next MacTeX, one  
> installing the old teTeX, one installing gwTeX, and one installing the  
> full unmodified TeX Live. One lucky feature, a deliberate design by  
> Gerben, was that the distributions installed in different locations: / 
> usr/local/teTeX, /usr/local/gwTeX, and /usr/local/texlive. So they  
> could coexist.
> In those first MacTeX experimental packages, I made a new symbolic  
> link, called something like /usr/bin/texprograms, pointing to the  
> binary files of the distribution being installed. The idea was that  
> front ends could use this as a default path to TeX, and thus wouldn't  
> have to be reconfigured when a different distribution was installed.
> Then I wrote Gerben asking him to support /usr/bin/texprograms in his  
> own distribution. But instead of doing that, Gerben and Jerome Laurens  
> designed a very much expanded version of the idea. In the expanded  
> version, a control panel module allowed the user to switch  
> distributions with a single button click, so they could safely install  
> a new distribution but immediately switch back to the old one in case  
> of trouble. The single click switched binaries, but it also switched  
> PATH for shells automatically, and switched MANPATH for man pages, and  
> did lots of other things. The truth is that I opposed this new design  
> for about a month because I thought it was so complicated, until I  
> came to my senses and realized its usefulness.
> When it came time to formally release MacTeX we included the Gerben-- 
> Laurens preference panel and decided to install the full TeX Live.  
> While the very first MacTeX installed teTeX, but all subsequent  
> releases nstall TeX Live.
> -------------
> OK, now I'm approaching questions which came up in your email.
> All of us involved in MacTeX wanted to make an installation which is  
> completely automatic, so the user needs to do NO CONFIGURATION AT ALL.  
> When the distribution is installed, all front ends immediately work  
> without configuration. And if you use a shell, or consult man pages,  
> that too should work automatically without configuration.
> In addition, if you have several TeX distributions, we wanted those to  
> coexist with no configuration. The last distribution installed should  
> be the active one. But if you switch distributions using that  
> Preference pane, everything should automatically switch: front ends,  
> shell commands, everything. I think we achieved that, mainly due to  
> the Gerben-Jerome structure.
> We even took care of SOME distributions that existed before this work.  
> For instance, the TeX Distribution data structure has data for teTeX,  
> and for one version of TeX Live produced before MacTeX. Originally  
> Gerben wanted to do much more, and have data for TeX Live  
> distributions going many years into the past. If he got his way, your  
> 2005 installation would have been recognized automatically. But  
> instead I got my way. Sorry. So the data is a little simplier and you  
> just missed the cutoff point.
> In a later email, your say "I don't see that I should need to know  
> about all these details when installing." I agree 100%. You shouldn't  
> need to know ANY detail. You should never need to look at /Library/ 
> TeX. Forget about it.
> You also write that the panel only shows TeXLive-2008. I've explained  
> why.
> You write "As a naive user, I wouldn't know about /usr/texbin or even  
> want to know about it." That's absolutely correct. That is our  
> philosophy exactly.
> ---------------
> Now as to your suggestions. I'm sorry you ran into the /usr/bin/latex  
> link problems, and I'm very impressed with your debugging skills. !!!
> I don't know where that link came from. It certainly didn't come from  
> any copy of MacTeX. I don't think the TeX Live script would have  
> produced that link by default. So it would not be appropriate from  
> MacTeX to remove it. I certainly agree that if an older MacTeX had  
> installed such a link, we should have removed it. But we didn't  
> install it.
> You wrote: "It seems to me that the program could be aware of the  
> previous
> installations and "do the right thing" or ask the user what to do to
> upgrade."
> I agree completely, if the previous installations come from us or from  
> Gerben. It is reasonable for you to suspect they came from us. But  
> they didn't. Notice that TeX Live 2005 didn't cause problems (although  
> we didn't recognize it). Your problems came from the stray /usr/bin/ 
> latex link.
> You also suggested offering to remove old distributions. MacTeX uses  
> Apple's installer technology, and this installer doesn't have the  
> ability to uninstall. Adding this ability is a request developers  
> sometimes make to Apple, but so far it isn't implemented. (To be  
> honest, it may be implemented in the very latest version, but we use  
> an older version so MacTeX will work on OS 10.3 and OS 10.4.)
> Luckily, MacTeX installs TeX Live in a single spot: /usr/local/texlive/ 
> 2008. So uninstalling is easy; just remove the 2008 folder, using  
> something like
> 	sudo rm -R /usr/local/texlive/2008
> -----------------
> I really enjoyed your email, because your philosophy about what should  
> happen coincides exactly with our intentions!
> Dick Koch
> koch at math.uoregon.edu

I'm glad we have the same philosophy for packages, though I've never
gotten around to making such a tight package for my own programs!

My first installation seems to have been from fink, so maybe that's
where the link came from.



  Dr. Thomas D. Schneider
  National Institutes of Health
  National Cancer Institute
  Center for Cancer Research Nanobiology Program
  Molecular Information Theory Group
  Frederick, Maryland  21702-1201
  toms at ncifcrf.gov
  permanent email: toms at alum.mit.edu

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