[OS X TeX] teTeX, gwTeX, TeX Live, etc.

Gerben Wierda Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl
Tue Nov 14 06:51:43 EST 2006

I have received a request to explain a bit more the relation between 
these terms and why and how they have had an impact on the end of 
support. I am answering this on the Mac TeX lists as more people might 
be confused.

1. teTeX. teTeX is short for "Thomas Esser's TeX" and has been a 
popular distribution of TeX on unix systems. Thomas is also the main 
author of many configuration tools that are available, like fmtutil, 
updmap and texconfig. teTeX consisted of 3 parts:
- a set of sources of the binaries/programs (e.g. tex, dvips, pdftex, 
- a texmf tree, which was largely a collection of packages from CTAN
- the sources for the texmf tree
To create a working TeX from these, you had to download the texmf tree 
and install this and the sources for the binaries/programs and compile 
and install these as well. This required a working developer setup on 
Mac OS X.
2. Fink's teTeX is a way to get the above using fink. You get a teTeX 
installed. There might have been a DarwinPorts teTeX as well. Both 
depend on teTeX and as teTeX is no longer maintained they get 
increasingly out of date. Both also do not contains the extra which 
have been part of gwTeX (see below).

teTeX has not been updated since January 2005 and in May 2006 Thomas 
Esser has announced that he has stopped supporting it. Instead, he has 
joined the TeX Live effort and supports that (e.g. maintenance of the 
tools updmap, fmtutil, texconfig).

2. TeX Live. TeX Live is probably *the* major distribution of TeX. 
pdfTeX and XeTeX updates get synchronized into TeX Live on a regular 
basis and the same is true for CTAN updates. I onsider it the current 
"home of TeX". But it is huge, you need a DVD to carry it around and 
that makes it unsuitable for an internet-based distribution scheme 
unless some interface gives you just the parts you want. TeX Live is on 
a "once a year" release mechanism. TeX Live and teTeX are comparable in 
their layout (though not exactly the same) and differ mainly in size.

3. gwTeX. I originally repackaged teTeX, but TeX Live had some extras 
in programs that were not part of teTeX. Therefore I soon changed to 
using TeX Live for the programs and binaries and teTeX for the main 
texmf tree. Now that teTeX is dead, I have this month moved to an 
entire TeX Live setup, where the main texmf tree in the i-Package is 
based on a subset of TeX Live. My distribution comes with various texmf 
trees. One is called texmf.gwtex and during the teTeX-texmf days this 
contained a sizeable set of additions to the teTeX selection which was 
in the texmf.tetex tree. Now that the main tree has become 
texmf.texlive, most of what was in texmf.gwtex can be found in 
texmf.texlive. The name gwTeX has been used both for the part of the 
distribution in texmf.gwtex and for the entire setup. The added 
workload of maintaining and especially supporting a texmf.texlive has 
(amongst other things) prompted me to quit.

4. XeTeX. XeTeX is a TeX-derivate by Jonathan Kew which can use system 
fonts (Open Type, True Type) directly. It used to be Mac-only but has 
now been ported to non-Mac systems and has become part of TeX Live. 
Jonathan maintains an i-Package for it, which will not be necessary 
anymore when XeTeX has fully become part of TeX Live.

5. MacTeX is an Apple Installer.app package (.pkg) thusfar based on 
gwTeX and several of the other i-Packages (ImageMagick, Ghostscript, 

6. MikTeX. I do not know much of it but it is a separate distribution 
of TeX which a very nice integrated update mechanism for the contents 
of the texmf trees. As far as I know the package manager is available 
for the Mac.

At this stage I would like as many users as possible to move from the 
TeX i-Package to the one based on a subset of TeX Live because that 
will enable me to use user's reports to make it as good as possible 
before Jan 1 2007 when I will end public support (I might be using it 
personally still).

Moving from the old TeX i-Package (TL/teTeX) top the new (TL) will 
require the user to reinstall everything he had installed in his or her 
texmf.local tree and if they have stuff in their personal 
~/Library/texmf tree it might be incompatible (e.g. language.dat files 
will contain older names of hyphenation pattern files which used to be 
part of teTeX but are no longer available in TL). As far as installing 
in texmf.local, the TeX Support i-Packages (CMSuper, CB-Greek, MusixTeX 
and ConTeXt Updater) will install in texmf.pkgs in the TeX Live 
i-Package setup and in texmf.local in the old TeX i-Package setup but 
they are compatible with both distributions.


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