[OS X TeX] Re: Changing Configurations

Gerben Wierda Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl
Tue Dec 6 15:41:25 EST 2005

On 6 Dec 2005, at 19:22, Christopher Brislawn wrote:

>> > On 11 nov 2004, at 21:25, Gerben Wierda wrote:
>> >
>> >> It is better to add this to /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf than  
>> changing
>> >> the one Maarten points to. The one Maarten points to is  
>> overwritten
>> >> on every install of TeX Programs. The one in
>> >> /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf is saved as a copy when you  
>> configure TeX
>> >> and it has been changed with respect to the default one. The
>> >> /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf contains overrides for the one  
>> Maarten is
>> >> writing about.
>> >
>> > Can this other configuration file also be used to override other
>> > parameters? For some of the larger pictures (metapost -> mptopdf) I
>> > need to enlarge both pdflatex and mpost to the largest sizes for  
>> some
>> > of their parameters. It would be nice if the system remembered  
>> those
>> > changes (or if they could be made in a location where they can be
>> > merged with your defaults (taking the largest of the two...)
>> Yes, you can. Some parameters change (like memory) do require a  
>> rebuild
>> of the formats, though. Having intelligence enough to do what you  
>> want
>> on changes soon turns into AI-like qualities and can't be done.
>> G
> Is there a way to create a *personal* configuration file that will  
> override the default configurations used by gwTeX?  /usr/local/ 
> teTeX/texmf.cnf looks like a system-level config file, not like  
> something for individual users to customize (especially multiple  
> users).  Moreover, while it may be saved as a backup copy in  
> subsequent reconfigurations/reinstallations, you'd still have to go  
> back and manually copy your personal edits into the new texmf.cnf  
> file after any such update.  Editing /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf  
> just isn't consistent with what I've read about the preferred  
> approach to gwTeX personalization for individual users.
> For instance, I want Latex to search all subdirectories of my  
> current working directory for input files, but the default path is:
> dilbert:~ brislawn$ kpsewhich -progname=pdflatex -show-path=.tex
> .:/Users/brislawn/Library/texmf/pdftex/latex//:  etc.
> Looks like the correct solution is to redefine TEXINPUTS.pdflatex,  
> so I created a file ~/Library/texmf/texmf.cnf containing the single  
> line:
> TEXINPUTS.pdflatex = .//;$TEXMF/{pdftex,tex}/{latex,generic,}//
> but it doesn't seem to override the default configuration.  I also  
> guessed that maybe I should put my personal texmf.cnf file in a ~/ 
> Library/texmf/web2c/ subdirectory (because there is also a /usr/ 
> local/teTeX/share/texmf/web2c/texmf.cnf file), but that didn't work  
> either.  Recalling how we used to do this in the olde days, I would  
> really rather not clutter up the unix shell namespace with TeX  
> variables given that there is a TeX-specific configuration  
> mechanism in place.  (Besides, TEXINPUTS.pdflatex is a regular  
> expression, which makes it a poor choice for a shell variable  
> name.)  The TeXShop, gwTeX, teTeX, and TDS documentation have not  
> been helpful in this matter, nor have I found better matches in  
> previous posts than the above message.
> In summary, how do I customize my gwTeX configuration without  
> editing /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf?

TeX needs to find texmf.cnf. And as texmf.cnf defines where TeX finds  
stuff you're in a Catch-22. Hence, texm.cnf location is the exception  
to the rule that this is all configurable. This behaviour is fixed  
during compile-time.

TeX finds /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf first (maybe it finds a  
texmf.cnf in a current directory first, but I am unsure and anyway it  
is not much use if TeX would). Then it reads the one in /usr/local/ 
teTeX/share/texmf/web2c and uses any value that has not been set yet.

So, you have two options:
1.Edit /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf. A new install will replace it, but  
it will keep the old one so it is easy to go back.
2. Use environment variables

Whichever you use, an update of the TeX system potentially creates a  


> Many thanks for all the helpful advice offered on this list!
> Regards,
> Chris Brislawn  <brislawn at lanl.gov>
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