[OS X TeX] installing from TeXLive

Christopher Menzel cmenzel at tamu.edu
Fri Nov 17 19:24:20 EST 2006

>> Yes -- and note that some folks do use traditional unix  
>> filesystems on their Macs, esp in environments where they have to  
>> rsync with non-Mac unix machines that might have files and dirs  
>> that differ only in case.  Is there any reason why Apple clobbered  
>> case-sensitivity?  From my largely uneducated perspective, it  
>> doesn't seem to have been a good choice.
> The Apple UI engineers long ago judged that their user base would  
> find the existence of files in the same directory, whose names  
> differed only by case, at best bizarre and at worst confusing.

Well, of course, the wisdom of that judgment is just what's at  
issue. :-)  What one finds bizarre or confusing is often just a  
matter of what one is used to, but it's not even clear there *would*  
have been much for ordinary users to get used to had Apple kept case  
sensitivity -- it's not as if the mere ability to introduce filenames  
differing only in case would have suddenly inclined users to do so.   
It simply seems to me that the vast majority of ordinary Mac users  
would never have even noticed case sensitivity, and hence that it  
wouldn't have had much impact on them, whereas case insensitivity has  
a fairly significant impact (ranging from annoying to potentially  
quite serious, as in the rsync example above) on users coming out of  
the Linux/*BSD world.  So, with the obvious advantage of hindsight, I  
question whether it was a good choice.

> It's also good practice not to use case alone to distinguish files

With this, of course, I wholly agree.  But, e.g., an administrator  
won't want to risk data loss just because one of his or her users  
doesn't follow good practice.

> since there's no inherent semantics one can infer from it.

Not sure what you mean there.  The semantics seems to me entirely  
clear: one name - one file, where a name is any nonempty string (up  
to a certain length) of permissible characters.  Case insensitivity  
means that one and the same file can have many (admittedly, similar)  
names.  Maybe all told that's a better semantics, maybe it isn't.   
But I don't see any kind of semantical problem either way.

> In any case, we now have a 'Case Sensitive HFS+' option we can use  
> if a case-sensitive filesystem is needed.  It's no longer UFS or  
> nothing, thankfully.

Well, that pretty much renders this debate moot!  (Though it *does*  
seem to suggest that the Apple engineers themselves have reconsidered  
that original judgment, doesn't it? ;-)

Chris Menzel

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