[tex-live] Default installation violates filesystem hierarchy standards

Michael Shell list1 at michaelshell.org
Mon Sep 28 21:36:59 CEST 2015

On Sun, 27 Sep 2015 22:38:41 +0200
Tristan Miller <psychonaut at nothingisreal.com> wrote:

> The /opt hierarchy was created for those rare packages which
> do not follow this convention.

In this dualistic universe, there are usually two or more valid ways
of cataloging something - in the case at hand either by specific file
functions (/bin, /man, etc.) or by specific package (e.g., Xorg,
TeX Live, etc. - the files' "parent" class).

The former view facilitates system performance by reducing path lookup
times and reducing the complexity of the directory trees while the
latter facilitates ease of system administration at the package level.
The larger and more complex the package, the more appealing the latter
approach becomes.

Although most all source compiled packages do install by default into
/usr/local, they usually do so by dispersing their individual files into
/usr/local/bin, /usr/local/man, etc., not by creating a new package
directory in /usr/local. That is what /opt is for.

I believe that /opt was created for large packages to facilitate their
quick and easy wholesale removal or update. Any package that "disperses"
many files into /usr, /usr/local, etc., can be difficult to remove or
update in the absence of a package manager application (e.g., rpm).

( BTW, for installing source compiled packages, porg should be given
serious consideration: http://porg.sourceforge.net/ )

As far as TeX Live goes, I believe that the real issue here may not be
so much a matter of default behavior, but rather simply one of
documentation and user visible installation options, suggestions and help.

It is OK to keep the defaults as they are, but the /opt option should be
presented to users during installation and maybe with a short mention of
the various views/opinions here and the tradeoffs of using each. 

In my own opinion, TeX Live is a near perfect example of the reason /opt
exists in the first place.


  Mike Shell

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