[OS X TeX] PATH in Leopard

Anthony Morton amorton at fastmail.fm
Fri Jan 4 08:41:06 EST 2008

>>> etc/paths and directory /etc/paths.d are described as the places  
>>> where search path action takes place now.
>>> Does anybody know where important UNIX stuff like this is  
>>> explained ?
>> This is not "important UNIX stuff", it is a little Apple-private  
>> kludge, badly documented.
>> Here is what some other people think of it:
>> <http://www.kilala.nl/Sysadmin/index.php?id=934>
> The man page (another set of resources) does state:
>     The path_helper utility should not be invoked directly.  It is  
> intended
>     only for use by the shell profile."
> Your comment on the documentation is certainly accurate.

At first I wondered what the fuss was about: at last we have a  
transparent way to add new paths to the default PATH in all shells  
without clumsy and fragile /etc/profile hacks.  But I've now seen some  
more online discussion of this issue and see the difficulty.  The  
issue seems to be that path_helper would be OK if it behaved as the  
man page says it's supposed to behave, but in some cases it doesn't.   
According to a long thread on the X11-users list, it seems to be a bug  
in the handling of inherited paths (where path_helper tries to avoid  
duplication but doesn't always succeed).

Kludgy as the implementation may be, the concept is a good one: it  
means that package-specific environment modifications can be kept  
separate from each other in their own discrete files.

Tony M.

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