additional texmf tree for all users (was Re: [OS X TeX] Beginner help with TeXshop/MacTex needed)

Rowland McDonnell rjmm-lists1 at
Sat Aug 26 19:15:03 EDT 2006

> Le 26 août 06 à 19:46, Rowland McDonnell a écrit :
> >> Where did you put this data that was lost when you used i-installer
> >> and what were you installing?
> >
> > I didn't put it anywhere.  It was all in the folder that i- 
> > installer put
> > the freshly downloaded data in.  i-installer just threw away
> > *everything* that it had previously downloaded when I asked it to  
> > fetch
> > me something new - I forget the details.
> >
> > Nothing to do with me.
> >
> > It seems pretty obvious to me that i-installer's got a bug or
> > several that don't often show up, and one (or more) happened to
> > show up when I was using it.
> That's the normal way i-Installer works: when an installation has  
> aborted before completing and you are starting again, or when you are  
> installing a new version of an i-Package, i-Installer re-downloads  
> the whole package from scratch. That's not a bug, but intended design.

You are making many invalid assumptions.

Nothing had aborted.  I simply tried to download another package (I
forget which one) and the hundreds of megabytes of data belonging to
other packages was deleted - the whole lot.  This is a bug, not any sane

> As regards the way to use it, that's pretty simple:

So you say - but there is no manual that explains what exactly
i-installer is going to do in response to user input.  One simply has to
trust that it's going to do the right thing.  Unfortunately, what the
author thinks is the right thing isn't necessarily what I want.

That wouldn't be a problem if the documentation explained what the
standard behaviour was and provided information to allow the user to
modify that behaviour - but the i-installer documentation does not
provide that information, and (much worse) it deletes data without
warning and without any hint anywhere that it's going to do anything
like that.

That is definitely a bug.

> open a known i- 
> Directory, open the i-Package to install, if necessary press  "Update  
> Self From Remote" in the "Pkg Properties" tab, then press Install.  
> And answer the questions you may be asked afterwards, if any (that  
> depends on the i-Package).

The problem is that the i-installer documentation does not explain what
it's going to do.  And since you tell me that it's correct behaviour to
delete all the packaages you've previously downloaded successfully when
you ask it to get a new package that has not previously been downloaded,
I have to say that i-installer is either completely insane or that you
are mistaken about something.

For all my criticisms of i-installer, I don't think the author has
written completely insane software, so I am led to the conclusion that
you are mistaken about something.

> >> I've also never had a problem with
> >> files I put into texmf.local getting lost. The simple answer, if
> >> you're worried about that, is to make a copy of texmf.local before
> >> doing the update.
> >
> > I'd rather that someone helped me learn how the syntax of texmf.cnf
> > works so that I can add my own parallel texmf tree.  Do you know if
> > there's any documentation which explains how the syntax of these
> > texmf.cnf files work?  If you do, I'd appreciate if you'd tell me  
> > where
> > to find it so I can learn what I need to learn to do what I want to  
> > do.
> No other doc that I know of, apart from the comments in texmf.cnf.

Which does not explain the syntax.  There must be such documentation.

As it happens, I've found it: section 3 of the Kpathsea library
(/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/doc/programs/kpathsea.pdf, which you
very kindly directed me to).  If you'd not pointed me at the file
concerned, I would never have found it - so this mailing list has been
useful.  Specifically, *you* have been of great help to me, for which I
am grateful.

Now, it's going to take a hell of a lot of work to gather together all
the extra information necessary to interpret the Kpathsea documentation
- but I think I can do it.  It'll be at least a week's work, I reckon.
I shouldn't have to do so much work to get to grips with something as
straightforward as this.

> > [...] It's a bit worrying, especially since I've not yet found out
> > in what order teTeX searches the directory trees, nor have I been
> > able to find out whether it uses the first match it finds or the
> > last one.  Do you know the answer to either of those questions? 
> > I'd like to find out, y'see, and I can't find anything that'll tell
> > me.
> This is all explained in
> /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/README.howtexfindsfiles
> /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/README.texmf.gwtex

It is not explained.  Nor is the syntax of the file explained, so I
cannot interpret the contents of the texmf.cnf files.  There's not a lot
of point in me trying to read those files until I've understood their
syntax, and (as I say) that'll be a lot of work on my part.  I can now
do that since I've found some of the essential documentation which ought
to be more readily available than it is, and I'll put the work in, of
course.  When I've done that - well, I'll probably have some more
confusions I'll have to ask about :-/

> Namely, in texmf.cnf, the line
> coupled with
> TEXMFTE = $SELFAUTOPARENT/share/texmf.tetex
> TEXMFGW = $SELFAUTOPARENT/share/texmf.gwtex
> TEXMFLOCAL = $SELFAUTOPARENT/share/texmf.local
> HOMETEXMF = $HOME/Library/texmf
> means that the following texmf trees are searched, in decreasing  
> order of precedence:
> ~/Library/texmf
> /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local
> /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex
> /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex
> /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf

What do you mean by `decreasing order of precedence'?  I want to know
which files are used, and I cannot work that out from what you say.

You might mean that the first instance is used - is that what you mean?

In the case of fontinst, it searches for stuff in a specified order of
precedence, and uses the last occurance.  So by telling me of the order
of precedence in searching, you might be indicating that the last
occurance is used.  Or perhaps the first.  I don't know which.  I need
(preferably) some documentation or (failing that) some kind person to
tell me.

> kpsewhich gives more precise answers: where a specific TeX executable  
> (tex, latex, pdftex, pdflatex, xetex, and so forth) looks for a file  
> of a certain type (TeX input file, TFM file, PFB file, and so forth).  
> By using for example
>   kpsewhich --progname=pdflatex --show-path=.tex
> you would have got the answer (reformatted here for clarity)

<sigh>  But I cannot interpret what this means.  I do not have enough
information to do so.  I need a manual to explain what all this stuff
means.  Yes, I see paths to directories.  Yes, so they are searched in
this order.  But so what?  

What I need to know is this: is the first instance of a file used, or
the last?  Please tell me.

>   .:
>   /Users/<yourusername>/Library/texmf/pdftex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/pdftex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/pdftex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/pdftex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf/pdftex/latex//:
>          /Users/<yourusername>/Library/texmf/tex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/tex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/tex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/tex/latex//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf/tex/latex//:
>          /Users/<yourusername>/Library/texmf/pdftex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/pdftex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/pdftex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/pdftex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf/pdftex/generic//:
>          /Users/<yourusername>/Library/texmf/tex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/tex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/tex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/tex/generic//:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf/tex/generic//:
>          /Users/<yourusername>/Library/texmf/pdftex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/pdftex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/pdftex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/pdftex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf/pdftex///:
>          /Users/<yourusername>/Library/texmf/tex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/tex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/tex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/tex///:
>          !!/usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf/tex///
> telling exactly where and in which order (by decreasing order of  
> precedence)

I see that phrase again: `decreasing order of precedence'.  I still do
not understand what it means.  Do you mean that the first instance is
used?  Please just tell me.  It can't be hard to stop being cryptic just
for minute, surely?

> pdflatex (invoked when TeXShop compiles a LaTeX file in  
> pdfTeX mode) looks for a file of extension .tex (and .cls, .sty, .fd,  
> and so forth). Namely first the current directory, then ~/Library/ 
> texmf/pdftex/latex, then /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.local/pdftex/ 
> latex, and so forth.

For sure.  But which files get used?  Those that come first in the
searching order, or those that come last in the searching order?

> As far as I'm concerned this discussion is closed.

Fair enough.   Of course you are under no obligation to engage in
anything at all.  But I still don't understand.

> Complaining a  
> software works the way it does, because you would like it to work  
> differently, calling this a bug,

I think you must have misunderstood something.  The behaviour I met was
certainly a bug.

> and then calling the developer  
> names: this is just a waste of everybody's time.

Excuse me?  Where have I done that?  I said he helped me get started
with i-installer.  I said he didn't seem concerned about the data loss
I'd suffered.  I've described the i-installer documentation as hopeless.
In this message, I've explained that I didn't think he'd written
completely insane software.

Where, in all of that, is there any name-calling of the developer?

I can't see anything remotely `name-calling' about any of it.

You've accused me in public of some pretty unpleasant behaviour.  Can
you show me where I did it (maybe I did and I've forgotten)?

- to my mind, you've descended to calling me names, which is just a
waste of everyone's time.  I realise that by writing about this issue in
a message that's going to the TeX on MacOS X mailing list, I too am
wasting everyone's time - but since you have basically libelled me as
far as I can see (I could be wrong - if so, please correct me, and I
shall apologise to all concerned), I'm irritated enough to do so.

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