[texhax] Today's binaries on old texmf trees

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Tue Nov 5 00:00:30 CET 2013

On 2013-11-03 at 13:47:56 -0800, Alex Scorpan wrote:

 > In an attempt at developing a long-term preservation strategy for
 > old source, I've been trying to force pdflatex from TeX Live 2013
 > to run on top of packages from TeX Live 2008.  So, before I call
 > the TL13 psdlatex, I set env variables like
 >   export TEXMFDIST=/usr/local/texlive/2008/texmf-dist  
 > (just in case)
 >   export TEXMFMAIN=/usr/local/texlive/2008/texmf:/usr/local/texlive/2008/texmf-dist
 > (since texmf/ and texmf-dist/ were merged in TL2013)
 > However, when I call the TL13 pdflatex, it always prefers to load
 > the files
 >   color.cfg
 >   graphics.cgf
 >   hyperref.cfg
 > from 2013/texmf-dist/tex/latex/latexconfig rather than from
 > 2008/texmf/tex/latex/config.
 > To further add to the confusion, if I call the TL13 binary but set
 > TEXMF* variables to point at TL12, then these files are taken (as
 > wished) from TL12's tree.  If I call the TL12 binary but set TEXMF*
 > to point at TL08, then these files are taken (as wished) from
 > TL08's tree.

Alex, I strongly recommend users to avoid such setups.  It's well
known that TL-2013's lualatex doesn't work with a TL-2012 TEXMF tree
and vice versa, for example.

However, if you really need such a setup then run

  tlmgr conf

If you don't find anything suspicious in the output, run

  texdoc kpathsea

See section 2.6.3 (Debugging).

The sole reason to use pdftex from TL-2013 in a TL-2008 environment is
that maybe bugs had been fixed meanwhile.  I'm not aware of new
features.  In this case it's certainly better to replace the TL-2008
pdftex binary by the current one.

Nevertheless, if you are interested in long-term preservation, the
better strategy is to test your sources on recent systems and inform
package authors if something doesn't work as before.  I'm convinced
that in the long term this approach is more reliable.


Reinhard Kotucha                                      Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                              mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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