[OS X TeX] Major path puzzlement

Maarten Sneep maarten.sneep at xs4all.nl
Thu May 13 04:42:27 EDT 2004

On 13 mei 2004, at 6:46, Axel E.Retif wrote:
> Save for a brief period in the early days of OS X 10.2, I've never had 
> any problems with Fink installed programs and gwTeX distribution. Most 
> of the Fink-installed programs I have are TeX-Ghostscript dependents 
> (TeXMacs, Kile...), and for that Fink provides system-tetex:
>> Placeholder package for manually installed teTeX
>>  Install this package if you have installed teTeX separately from 
>> Fink,  for example, by using Gerben Wierda's distribution (see  
>> http://www.rna.nl/tex.html ). The package checks to see if you have a 
>> valid installation of teTeX in /usr/local/teTeX.
> I think it can't be more clear and specific.
> As far as I know, if you suspect a conflict with Fink, you don't have 
> to delete your whole /sw directory. It is enough to delete or comment 
> out the line
> . /sw/bin/init.sh
> in your .bash_profile (or .cshrc, etc.).
> And, by the way, I learned of GW's distribution in Fink's web site.

One word of warning though, from someone who has been on this list for 
a long time. I'm sticking my neck out with this one, but I dare to say 
that *most* cases of trouble with i-Installer originate from having 
Fink as well -- Gerben probably has more reliable statistics here. Be 
very careful. The package above is great, but there are _still_ 
packages in Fink that blindly install Fink's idea of TeX.

At a more fundamental level: Fink adds its path _in front_ of the 
standard path. This overrides all system defaults, and is against any 
security practice on Unix that I know of. It means that a package 
installed from the internet could conceivably install an application or 
script that is called "ssh", hijacks your password (and then starts the 
real thing, so you won't even notice it) and send the password off to 
someone else. Since the path of Fink comes before anything else in the 
system, there is nothing you can do about that, except type which ssh 
each time you use it. Gerben did the correct thing by adding his 
directories at the end of the path.

You can of course "correct" Fink by changing the /sw/bin/init.sh file 
(make sure that $path or $PATH are _before_ any items that start with 
/sw). I'd rather use a system that has considered security from the 


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