[OS X TeX] Finally we are grown up

Gerben Wierda Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl
Fri Nov 17 03:32:25 EST 2006

On Nov 17, 2006, at 05:13, Anthony Morton wrote:

>> You're correct.  People will have to rely on an alternate source for 
>> up-to-date ghostscript/ImageMagick/etc, which means using a system 
>> like fink or compiling your own from source and dealing with 
>> dependency nightmares.  Alternately, someone could take over Gerben's 
>> i-Package maintainership and roll those updates into MacTeX.
> I've always preferred i-Installer to Fink for installing and updating 
> these other components - a tribute to Gerben's good work here.  I'd 
> like to see i-Installer keep going just for these, even if the 
> community moves to direct TeXLive installation for TeX itself.  
> Fortunately it appears these other components don't get updated as 
> often, so maybe this is something we can take on without too much 
> effort.

As I have said during TUG2006, it would be perfectly doable also to 
produce an adapted i-Package that contains all of TeX Live easily 
selectable which parts you would like, even having things like 
'minimum' 'full' etc. This could be done by creating an i-Package that 
follows the TPM's (packages in TeX Live) and it would take someone with 
enough perl/ruby skills approximately a week, I think. It could install 
in default TL locations even. BTW, the TL i-Package has lost the 
'share' subdirectory that was one of the differences between teTeX and 
TL. It will therefore be possible to update a TL (from ISO image or 
DVD) with the i-Package, just by changing the i-Package instal location 
to wherever TL has been installed. The i-Package could be updated a few 
times a year giving people an easy way (with minimum download) to, say, 
update their binaries to the latest versions.

This TL-full i-Package is perfectly doable, but it is just that I am 
not going to do it. The main problem (apart from the fact that there 
are other reasons why I am quitting: mostly that 6 years of intensive 
support have been enough and my day job has become more taxing 
recently) is that a (constantly changing) texmf tree requires far more 
support and help. TL in itself has never focused on backward 
compatibility so people updating are in for surprises. E.g. recently 
Romanian hyphenation patterns were renamed from rohyph.tex to 
rohypen.tex. As soon as someone updates, the language.dat in 
texmf.local is out of date. Suddenly the unexpected user finds that 
hyphenation in Romanian just does not work anymore. Finding out that it 
is the change from rohyph.tex to rohyphen.tex that causes this will be 
difficult for most users (you can believe me on this: the population of 
the Mac OS X TeX list is not the same as the population of TeX on Mac 
OS X users) and supporting that will be time consuming.

Some people have wondered why I did not follow TeX Live or teTeX 
standards in the past years, mostly in naming the texmf trees (e.g. 
texmf.local instead of texmf-local). There was a very good reason for 
that: preventing non-configured situations to work at all. The most 
time you lose in remote problemshooting is when you think someone is 
using your configuration (and you assume a lot of things because of 
that) and it turns out this is not the case. Most of my choices has 
been made to make support by a time-constrained individual to a large, 
mostly non-technical, user base possible.

In terms of the contents of the 'basic texmf' tree I have until 
recently been passing on Thomas Esser's editing work there (in other 
words, not I but Thmas was the `filter' (more aptly named: editor)). 
And even my TL-subset is largely based on a mechanical translation of 
his results to a mapping on TL. Even today, I encounter users who do 
not have fast broadband connections, so my guess is that a setup where 
you do not need to download all to install less than a fraction is 
still a worthwhile proposition for some. And so is backward 
compatibility (more often than you expect).


PS. Claus, shall I redirect support for TeX on Mac OS X to you starting 
Jan 1 2007? After all, with a TL full install support is hardly needed, 
right? ;-) ;-)

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