Please no: [OS X TeX] set environment variablesforapplications

Gerben Wierda Gerben.Wierda at
Wed May 26 07:13:08 EDT 2004

> On May 26, 2004, at 05:29, Gerben Wierda wrote:
>>> Even if it were possible to set it per application, I would prefer
>>> setting $PATH for them generally. Otherwise, it would be difficult to
>>> keep the consistency.
>> Yes. But suppose you add /sw/bin to the start of your PATH and as a
>> result a different version of a command is used and your application
>> which uses a subprocess that now suddenly fails. And how do you know
>> why?
> I know. Why not? It's me who configured my environment.plist. And it is
> just because I want to avoid such an unexpected result that I have set
> $PATH in an appropriate order and done testings.

If you set /sw/bin at the start of your PATH in environment.plist, and
fink has installed its own version of grep, awk, sed, mv, etc., these
might also be used for example by Apple's in its pre- and
postflight scripts. So any .pkg you install that has such scripts
potentially runs different (versions of) commands than what Apple (or
anybody writing a package) expects. This can lead to malfunction (not all
greps behave the same) and in the worst case security breaches.

>> It is not only PATH. If someone sets TEXMFMAIN because some app wants
>> that and suddenly TeX starts behaving different (failing) during
>> configuration. People then write me.
> Is it a real example? Of course, you can ask your users not to set or
> change such and such variables globally.

This is a real example. And the person reporting the problem was a *very*
experienced and knowledgeable unix user. It just happened that some app
had instructed him to do that 6 months earlier and he did not recall which
app but the setting was still there until 6 months later he ran the TeX
i-Package configuration and it failed. You can image it took some time
before we found out what was wrong. Mainly because I cannot afford from a
user friendlyness perspective to assume beforehand that it is the user's

And I can ask, but will they do it? What happens is that I will get many
more problems than I get now.

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