Please no: [OS X TeX] set environment variables forapplications

Bruno Voisin bvoisin at
Tue May 25 18:58:41 EDT 2004

Le 25 mai 04, à 23:30, Enrico Franconi a écrit :

> So, your insisting that "unix" applications are different from GUI 
> apps for historical reasons and therefore they are allowed to use 
> global environment variables (unlike GUI apps) is simply wrong. On the 
> mac (like on KDE or Gnome), all applications (including GUI 
> applications) are unix applications.

A view from a non-developer: if I understand the discussion correctly, 
that is simply not the point. Though technically Unix applications, OS 
X GUI apps are different from traditional Unix apps in one respect: 
they were not designed with Unix concepts such as environments in mind.

Applications originating from the Unix world, and available on OS X 
either in their original Unix form as CLI apps, or in a GUI form as X11 
or Aqua ports, were designed from the start with the notion of shells, 
environments and environment variables in mind. They are thus -- 
supposedly -- robust against abuse of these concepts, and interact more 
or less correctly with each other.

"Pure" Mac (and thus generally GUI) apps, by contrast, designed from 
the start to run on the Mac, and either written directly for OS X (in 
Cocoa) or ported from OS 9 (in Carbon), expect to find a more or less 
virginal Mac OS, to build upon. Hence they are not robust against 
environment settings, and may be deeply perturbed by them.

In this respect, I think, introducing specific settings and 
enhancements for some GUI apps, in environment.plist, which may affect 
badly other GUI apps, would amount to bad citizenship and should be 

In a previous post I spoke about extensions in OS 7 to 9, installed by 
some apps but affecting others badly. At the start of the OS 9 release 
cycles I was getting so annoyed by extension conflicts that I was on 
the verge of giving up on Mac OS, and it was the release of OS X which 
made me reconsider (unfortunately in the meantime I had advised 
colleagues to give up before me, and they are now happy Linux or 
Windows users :-(. Please don't bring back the same kind of nightmare 
to OS X, with some apps modifying the default OS behaviour and 
affecting other apps; I'm really not willing to give up on OS X, but if 
it comes to this, eventually I will.

Bruno Voisin

PS At this point you may say: if apps were not designed with 
environments in mind, how can they be affected by environment variables 
set in environment.plist? Possibly they can't, I don't know for sure, 
being no developer. If that's the case, then this entire post is 
pointless, and I apologize. That's not the impression I got, though, by 
reading through the previous posts of this thread.
Post: <mailto:MacOSX-TeX at>
Please see <> for list
guidelines, information, and LaTeX/TeX resources.

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list