[OS X TeX] Re: End of i-Installer/i-Packages support per 1/1/2007

Richard Koch koch at math.uoregon.edu
Sat Nov 11 13:38:54 EST 2006


On Nov 11, 2006, at 9:28 AM, Gary L. Gray wrote:
> That is exactly my question. It doesn't seem likely that anyone will  
> pick up Gerben's work and run with it and the MacTeX installer is  
> also based on his work so that would no longer evolve either.

First thanks to Gerben for his work over the last six years and his  
support over the next few months. We all had the same sinking feeling
in our stomachs reading his last announcement.

This need not mean the end of MacTeX because:

(This email is based on a limited knowledge of the steps Gerben has  
to create a TeXLive i-Package. I'm hoping he will write to correct  
mistakes and
this will push us along technically as we determine what should happen

Essentially the MacTeX install package is created by throwing /usr/ 
local away,
installing Gerben's TeX packages, and then calling an Apple Command to
automatically create a package from the new /usr/local.

Thus the MacTeX package only requires having some TeX distribution in / 
usr/local. So
as long as someone can find a way to install TeX on Mac OS X, it  
should be
easy to make a MacTeX package from it.

There are some caveats:

	a) It is important that TeX search ~/Library/texmf; it should be  
possible to
	add files to this location without running texhash

	b) The distribution should not require TEXINPUTS and other
	environment variables (it can respond to such variables when called
	from Terminal, but they shouldn't be required).

	c) The distribution should contain both PowerPC and Intel binaries

	d) The format files should be independent of processor

	e) Various enhancements Gerben has requested/enabled/programmed for
	Mac OS X should be included in the files, particularly binaries. I'm  
	of line feed conventions, spaces in file names, etc.

I once asked Karl Berry if TeXLive could be configured to support a)  
and b)
and he said "sure." Karl is always polite but I gathered that my  
question was naive.

TeXLive certainly supports c).

At one time, XeTeX's format files weren't processor independent. When  
I asked
Jonathan Kew about that, he changed xetex to fix format files (24 hour  
is a slow day for Jonathan). So I think d) isn't automatically true,  
but in practice holds
for all or most tex programs.

Finally, Gerben has folded enhancements back into the standard source  
trees, so
I'm hoping that most of e) is now part of TeXLive.

Karl also told me that TeXLive supports installing a subset of the
full distribution. I believe a lot of Gerben's recent work consisted  
of defining an
appropriate subset to mimic the teTeX distribution.

In fact, Gerben's work over the last several months has essentially  
created a
TeXLive installation satisfying all of these requirements. So as far  
as MacTeX
is concerned, we only need someone to maintain and enhance what we could
call "Gerben's configuration of TeXLive for installation on OS X." The  
key point
is that this person doesn't need to start from scratch.

(By the way, installation of TeXLive is way, way beyond my  
capabilities. A "Gerben
clone" is essential. But for MacTeX, that clone needn't make an i- 
Package or
maintain i-installer as long as he/she can write instructions at the  
third grade
level saying "follow these steps and you'll have TeXLive on your  

At any rate, if a group of users can manage to install a working TeX,  
then making
a MacTeX package from it should be quite easy.

We might want to evolve MacTeX slightly so it has a "default"  
installation and a
"custom" installation. That would allow a user to install TeX without  
installing ghostscript (and associated libraries) or ImageMagick (and  
libraries). On the other hand, making this "fine grained" isn't in the  
cards, so
we should also actively search for someone to take over i-Installer.

koch at math.uoregon.edu

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