[OS X TeX] /usr/local/texprograms -> /Library/ActiveTeXPrograms

Gerben Wierda Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl
Thu Nov 30 10:03:21 EST 2006

WARNING: Contains a lot of developer-oriented talk! Skip if you are just
interested in using TeX. Dick, Jerome and others will figure out how to
present this to you without the arcane technical stuff!

Having read the discussions on the links I see possible choices:

/etc/active-tex-programs (with or wihtout hyphens)

This is in the unix area, hidden from the user. Disadvantage, you cannot
easily get there with s standard Open Panel so frontends cannot offer such
a panel to let you choose. In such an area, I would use lowercase. Anyway,
I do not like this very much.

I can see the logic of:

/Library/TeX/Distributions/TeXLive2005 -> /usr/local/texlive2005
/Library/TeX/Distributions/TeXLive -> /usr/local/texlive
/Library/TeX/Distributions/teTeX -> /usr/local/teTeX
/Library/TeX/Distributions/gwTeX -> /usr/local/gwTeX
/Library/TeX/Distributions/Default -> gwTeX

But now. How is a frontend going to offer an easy switch? What you would
want is that the frontend offers the choices inside
/Library/TeX/Distributions, but that means that the frontend has to extend
the choice for a distribution by looking for the correct binaries subdir
inside, and there is no consensus of their naming (e.g. the TL
distribution uses a different name (powerpc-darwin) than what is produced
by a TL configure & compile (e.g. powerpc-apple-darwin8.6) which is in my
TL i-Package. The future may even have more changes in store, what do we

A solution is to let the contents inside Distributions be directories and
not links. E.g.

/Library/TeX/Distributions/TeXLive/Programs ->
/Library/TeX/Distributions/gwTeX/Programs ->
/Library/TeX/Distributions/Default -> gwTeX

We are close to a bundle type of approach (Foo.texdist) with a
standardized content (e.g. links to Programs, TEXMFLOCAL)

/Library/TeX/Distributions/TeXLive.texdist/Programs ->
/Library/TeX/Distributions/TeXLive.texdist/TexmfLocal ->
/Library/TeX/Distributions/gwTeX.texdist/Programs ->
/Library/TeX/Distributions/gwTeX.texdist/TexmfLocal ->
/Library/TeX/Distributions/Default -> gwTeX

Hmm. This is becoming mighty complicated for something pretty simple. But...

/Library/TeX/DefaultPrograms -> Distributions/Default/Programs

would work and would never have to be changed.

Front ends would offer a choice of dists in a standard Open Panel (or
popup list what they prefer). Default any frontend would set the path for
TeX to be /Library/TeX/DefaultPrograms. If you set it to something else,
e.g. /Library/TeX/Distributions/gwTeX.texdist/Programs) you would keep on
using your chosen distro even if someone else on your system changed the
default distro to something else. No local symlinks needed to switch
independently from within a frontend. If you use multiple frontends, you
need to change preferences in both (but that is not so weird) something
that is not needed with a local symlink. Oh well, a local symlink would
still work.

Switcher apps would change /Library/TeX/Distributions/Default to link to
whatever Foo.texdist bundle they want to be the default.

/Library/TeX/Distributions/Default/TexmfLocal would always give you the
current default texmf.local tree.

The installers for different TeX distro's would install/create a
/Library/TeX/Distributions/Foo.texdist bundle which contains abstracted
knowledge about distributions.

Something else:

>>> Can you explain the reason why the install cannot occur in the
>>> user domain?
>> Because that way a sysadmin user cannot install for all the users
>> on a machine.
> You don't say that!
> I always believed that tetex could not be installed in the user
> domain because some paths where hard coded and things would not work
> at all when installed somewhere else!

No, that is true for other stuff, like ImageMagick, but not for TeX. The
TeX i-Package contain a relocatable TeX (thanks to the kpse AUTOPARENT
feature). The compiled-in paths are complete rubbish (may contain things
like /usr/local/Build/powerpc/TeXLive.2006).

As the contents of the TeX i-Packages are relocatable, you can install it
in your home directory (for instance). That als means you can install it
without sysadmin privileges. This, you can set in the Pkg Properties tab.

What I was saying is that *if* you do that, your TeX is not available by
others (I meant "install for *all* users" = available to all users),
because they do not have access to your home directory. Having one TeX
install on your system that is shared by many requires installation in a
global location and these tend to be read-only for non-admins (with the
exception of /tmp ;-).


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