[tex-live] ~/.texmf-whatever => ~/.texlive2005/texmf-whatever

George White aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Sat Aug 13 14:53:04 CEST 2005

Quoting Karl Berry <karl at freefriends.org>:

> After discussing the situation with Thomas, we feel that we should in
> fact change TEXMFCONFIG and TEXMFVAR to use an identifier in the
> directory name, following George's note.
> To restate the principle: in the past, teTeX (as installed in GNU/Linux
> distributions) and TL (as installed by users) could happily coexist.

Yes, the world is sorely lacking in happy coexistence/playing nicely these
days, so keep what we already have!
> (Having these new user-based directories for "system" files will
> definitely be this year's #1 confusion/problem.)

Confusion can be healthy if it leads to correct rethinking.

Many experienced teTeX users will be surprised to find tex putting .fmt files
their home directories.  It may, however, seem natural to the poor VISTA
Spyware, Trojan, and Ad-ware) refugee fleeing the M$ empire and struggling to
find a home in the linux world, so the problems will come when they consult
co-author X (who has been using linux for years) for advice.

On Windows, many TeX users equate TeX with an editing environment (e.g.
winedt/miktex or xemacs/tl2003).  A non-rivial number of people with multiple
documents in preparation use multiple TeX distros, e.g., winedt/miktex because
co-author Y uses that and xemacs/tl2003 because co-author X uses texlive on
linux.  I find many of these (invariably LaTeX) documents actually compile fine
on the other system, but the author had a bad experience several versions ago
and concluded that tex distros are incompatible. 

I suppose it is time for a bit of higher-profile discussion of where TeX
is today -- something along the lines of an article in SIAM News -- to let
people know that TeX distro authors are interested in:

1.  happy coexistence/playing nicely
2.  internationalization
3.  open source freedoms

and also to warn people of the pitfalls of relying on the linux distro's 
tex package.

George N. White III
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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