[OS X TeX] Re: Remarks on the /usr/bin/texprograms symlink

Franck Pastor pastor at fusl.ac.be
Sun Nov 26 06:41:52 EST 2006

Le 26-nov.-06 à 11:53, Claus Gerhardt a écrit :

> Let me try to answer your question. After Gerben's announced  
> departure as the maintainer of the main tex distribution for the  
> Macintosh (i-Installer and Gerben's repackaging of other tex  
> distributions) we had to find other ways for an easy, comfortable  
> and reliable installation of TeX on Mac in the future.
> Fortunately, this task was rather easy, since the original TeXLive  
> (TUG) distribution offers a TeX implementation that works  
> excellently on a Macintosh out of the box. TeXLive's installer  
> script also allows a comfortable and quick installation from the  
> command line. But for those that feel uncomfortable with the  
> command line, Richard Koch's MacTeX now allows to install the full  
> version of TeXLive (TUG) in the usual Macintosh way. The result is  
> identical to what you would have get by using TeXLive's installer,  
> apart from setting the path. But more of that later.
> Gerben's i-Installer installs only a repackaged version of TeXLive  
> (TUG), which is not the full version, and has maybe some additions,  
> I don't know exactly, since I am not interested in any additions.  
> However, given Gerben's announced departure, his new TeXLive  
> package was dead on arrival, and I wouldn't have released it in his  
> place. The future certainly belongs to TeXLive (TUG) and MacTeX's  
> installation of it for the Macintosh.
> Now to the path setting part. Gerben used a path setting script  
> that installed a system wide path for his distribution(s),  
> originally it was just one distribution, teTeX, which defined the  
> tex path on the command line system wide for any user. I assume  
> that the underlying idea was,
> (1) there is only one TeX distribution installed on the Macintosh
> (2) there is only one user who is then also administrator.
> The latter assumption might still be valid nowadays, however, the  
> first is now definitely wrong. I have already two different TeX  
> distributions installed (teTeX and TeXLive (TUG) using TeXLive's  
> installer script) and some users may have even three (teTeX,TexLive  
> (Gerben), and TeXLive (MacTeX)). In the future there will be yearly  
> updates of TeXLive (TUG), i.e., a typical user will have installed  
> at least two, but even three or more TeXLive (TUG) versions from  
> different years.
> There should be an easy and comfortable way to switch between these  
> versions. Richard Koch had the splendid idea to use a symlink,  
> named texprograms,  to define to the active TeX version. Changing  
> the TeX version would be as simple as setting a new symlink.
> Koch's original idea was to define the system wide tex path as
> /usr/local/texprograms
> such that the system wide path would only have to be set once.   
> Redirecting the symlink wouldn't have effected the path anymore.  
> This is in my opinion the simplest, best and most comfortable way  
> to define the system wide path.
> However, Gerben's i-Installer doesn't know of the symlink and  
> conflicts would arise, if a user would have installed TeX via  
> MacTeX with a symlink and the corresponding path, and later would  
> have used i-Installer to install another TeX version and Gerben's  
> path setting script would have overwritten the symlink path by its  
> own path. Because of this compatibility issue the simple and best  
> way to define the path hadn't been used.
> I argued differently, favouring /usr/local/texprograms as system  
> wide path, combined with the recommendation that users shouldn't  
> use Gerben's i-Installer anymore for installing TeX unless i- 
> Installer adopts to the symlink.
> As my  personal opinion, with all due respect to Gerben's role and  
> achievements for TeX on Mac, I don't understand why, after his  
> departure, and given the new situation that there will be several  
> TeX distributions on a typical Mac, we should refuse to use the  
> best method for path setting only because of compatibility issues  
> with his i-Installer which will only install old tex distributions  
> and no new ones anymore.
> This is the present situation. The normal user can relax, and I  
> would recommend not to use i-Installer for installing TeX as long  
> as i-Installer doesn't respect the symlink and all parties have  
> agreed to the system wide path /usr/local/texprograms.

A Gerben himselft wrote earlier:

"PS. I have no fundamental problems with the /usr/local/texprograms  
symlink. TeX (KPSE) depends on searching in parent and grandparent  
dirs for texmf.cnf. This works now with the /usr/local/texprograms  
symlink (I had not expected this, I had expected it to look for /usr/ 
texmf.cnf instead) and that opens up possibilities. I am checking a  
few things before implementing support for this."

> MacTeX installs all available TeX distributions for the Macintosh,  
> it knows and respects the symlink, and I would really like to know  
> if there is anything that i-Installer can do that MacTeX is not  
> capable of doing, apart from installing piece wise, which, by the  
> way, is an option that I never liked in i-Installer.

It is precisely what I enjoy whith the i-installer. That you it  
allowed your installation to be easily suited to your needs,  
precisely by installing things piecewise. I will miss something like  
"expert install"... A personalisation of our installation will now be  
more difficult without it.

Franck Pastor

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