[OS X TeX] Leopard MacTeX PATH problems, still

Herbert Schulz herbs at wideopenwest.com
Sat Mar 22 21:02:25 EDT 2008

On Mar 22, 2008, at 6:58 PM, Alan Litchfield wrote:
> ...
> By the way, I was not aware that the MacTeX installation script made  
> changes
> to paths. Is this the case with TeXLive? I for one would rather they  
> did not
> since any script cannot know what else I have put in there. It would  
> be a big
> pain for ad hoc changes made by someone I don't know to affect  
> intentional
> additions I have made.


In Leopard the changes are an addition of the TeX file (containing / 
usr/texbin) to /etc/paths.d/ which simply adds /usr/texbin to the path  
(of any shell?). The symbolic link /usr/texbin points to the active  
TeX distribution's binaries and is changed via the Tex Distribution  
System Preference Pane. That way you can have more than one TeX  

One might ask why one would want that? Imagine you're working on your  
thesis and a new distribution (TeX Live 2008?) comes out. You might  
hesitate to update you TeX Live 2007 (via MacTeX) distribution in the  
name of stability. by having the TeX Distribution Preference Pane you  
can keep the old distribution in case you have a problem with your  
thesis but switch to the oder distribution without worrying about the  
update. Really neat!

> Typically, it is up to the user to make the necessary changes to their
> environment so that it operates in the manner they expect, unless of  
> course
> they are in a work group that is administered for them, in which  
> case their
> path may have been inherited.

Sorry... not the Macintosh way since most folks have no idea what a  
PATH is!

> Editing the path is relatively straightforward but one does need to  
> know what
> shell they are using and what file they intend to store their  
> parameters in,
> such as those Herb mentioned.
> Cheers
> Alan

Ahh... there's the rub... most of the problems we've run into when  
folks have updated are ones where they've hand changed something (this  
is especially true of using the ~/.MacOSX/environement.plist method),  
forgotten about it (a natural thing to do over time) and then run into  
problems with software behaving strangely. I've seen way too much  
effort having to be put into straightening out things that Fink, etc.,  
have managed to do. I don't mean to disparage those distributions but  
they tend to be i)out of date and ii)force you to stay with them or go  
through hell to clean up after them.

I think I was lucky enough to start directly with Gerben Wierda's  
implementation of teTeX, go on to his lovely gwTeX distribution based  
on TEX Live 2007 and finally ended up with MacTeX, a full TeX Live  
2007 distribution set up for the Mac. I never played with PATH and  
everything, GUIs and CLI, just worked.

Good Luck,

Herb Schulz
(herbs at wideopenwest.com)

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