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

Bruno Voisin bvoisin at mac.com
Sun Nov 26 07:10:50 EST 2006

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

> 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.

I totally disagree. Assumptions (1) and (2) are, IMO, the only Mac  
way of using TeX: something that just works, and under whose hood you  
don't have to look at.

I fully agree with the opinion just expressed in another thread by  
Richard Seguin and George Gratzer:

> Le 26 nov. 06 à 05:29, George Gratzer a écrit :
>> On Nov 25, 2006, at 9:40 PM, Richard Seguin wrote:
>>> On Nov 25, 2006, at 6:36 PM, Joachim Kock wrote:
>>>> We are now in a situation where multiple tex installations on  
>>>> the same
>>>> machine is becoming normal (the MacTeX distribution even  
>>>> encourages it).
>>> It is? I think the typical user just wants their paper to  
>>> typeset, and is neither interested nor has time for this level of  
>>> complication.
>> Hear, hear!

Perhaps some TeX addicts or nerds will want to install more than one  
TeX distro on their Macs. I'm probably one of them, having already  
the teTeX-based and TeXLive-based i-Packages installed, and at some  
point in December I'll experiment with direct TeXLive install. But  
those users are a minority, and TeX on the Mac should not be made  
more complex, more difficult to deal with, just for that minority.

All these threads from the past few days must be leaving normal users  
with the impression that TeX on the Mac has become a beast,  
practically impossible to deal with without the help of this list or  
without a nearby Mac and TeX guru. That is not the case, and that  
should never be the case.

> 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.

As for this symlink issue, I must admit I really don't understand its  
importance. There have always been symlinks in Gerben's distros,  
namely /Library/teTeX for /usr/local/teTeX and /Library/TeXLive for / 
usr/local/TeXLive, and when Intel Macs were  released Gerben modified  
his installation procedure such that TeX is configured, upon install,  
to pick up the appropriate set of binaries, from either /usr/local/ 
{teTeX,TeXLive}/bin/i386-apple-darwin-current or /usr/local/ 
{teTeX,TeXLive}/bin/powerpc-apple-darwin-current. (Personally I would  
have preferred universal binaries, as this would have been more Mac- 
like, but that's not really important.)

I must admit that I stopped reading the messages devoted to this  
symlink and TeX Switcher issue after the first two or three messages,  
until I get time and bandwidth to really download the hundreds of  
megabytes of the various MacTeX packages and see what all this fuss  
is about.

Bruno Voisin------------------------- Info --------------------------
Mac-TeX Website: http://www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex/
          & FAQ: http://latex.yauh.de/faq/
TeX FAQ: http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq
List Archive: http://tug.org/pipermail/macostex-archives/

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list