[tex-live] $TEXMFHOME not working right

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Sun May 16 04:49:12 CEST 2010

On 15 May 2010 Khaled Hosny wrote:

 > On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 07:06:02PM +0200, Reinhard Kotucha wrote:
 > > Anyway, TeX Live versions prior to TeX Live 2007 had:
 > > 
 > > 
 > > Every user had to run texhash after adding files and nobody
 > > complained.
 > I certainly didn't complain, but it was a very frustrating experience
 > first time I started adding stuff to TEXMFHOME and tex still can not
 > find it, I'm very glad this have been "fixed".

Sure, this can happen.  But if you didn't know that you have to run
texhash, how did you know where exactly you have to put your files?
You certainly have to read documentation if you want to install files
in TEXMFHOME.  There is much more you can do wrong.

I don't think that a problem have been "fixed", as you said.  Please
note that the current behavior causes other problems, as Robin
reported.  If people have many files in TEXMFHOME the system slows
down significantly, especially because TEXMFHOME is the first tree to
be searched.  Please don't forget that even if a file resides in
another tree, TEXMFHOME is searched though on the disc.

With other words: Even if your TeX input file doesn't need anything
from TEXMFHOME, the file system is scanned each time.  This is quite
inefficient and IMO the idea of kpathsea is completely ignored.

Another issue is that if TEXMFHOME is treated as an exception, why not
treat TEXMFLOCAL as an exception too?  Then the system becomes even
less efficient.  But why should they be treated differently? 

My opinion is that kpathsea is a good thing and should be used by
default.  I dislike exceptions generally.  The problem is that every
exception needs extra explanations and and blows up documentation.
It's better to avoid exceptions.  The less we have have to explain,
the less people have to read.  You can't install files without reading
the documentation anyway.  It's a wrong conclusion that circumventing
kpathsea makes things easier.  You still have to be familiar with TDS,
otherwise your files are not found reliably.

What we have now solves a tiny problem for people who didn't read the
documentation.  They have to be in luck if their files are found at
all (if they didn't read any documentation), and the system is slow by
default.  Is this really what we want?

Well, the short answer is: kpathsea is there, it's a good thing, and
should be used by default.  No exceptions please, if avoidable.  Users
should simply read documentation if the trial-and-error method fails.


Reinhard Kotucha			              Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover	                      mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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