[tex-live] So far.....expensive failure

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Fri Feb 15 02:08:49 CET 2013

On 2013-02-14 at 07:31:08 +0100, Denis Bitouzé wrote:

 > Le jeudi 14/02/13 à 00h40,
 > Reinhard Kotucha <reinhard.kotucha at web.de> a écrit :
 > >  The point is that nobody needs the ISO image.
 > I don't agree: I often give LaTeX courses in my University to
 > simultaneously at least 20 students and I couldn't reasonably let
 > them install TL through the network installer. Indeed:
 >   * the network of our University couldn't support such a big
 >     download simultaneously (and other users would be irate),
 >   * this would cause much more traffic than downloading the TL ISO
 >     once and providing it through either USB sticks.
 > When the French TUG provides me the TL DVD (free of charge: many
 > thanks to him!), I procure it but I still provide the ISO file for
 > students who own a Netbook without any DVD drive.

Hi Denis,
maybe I misunderstand you, but do you really create a DVD for each
student?  Sure, DVDs are cheap but I/O speed is very poor.

I would expect that participants of a LaTeX course can install TeX
Live simultaneously in a reasonable amount of time.  DVDs can be used
but it takes a lot of time to prepare 20 DVDs.  Writing to a USB stick
and installing from it is much faster, but USB sticks are much more
expensive than DVDs.

A good solution is to install a web server on a local machine and copy
tlnet to it.  Then students can install from this machine
simultaneously using the network installer as usual.  Traffic is only
on your local network.  The advantage is that you don't have to
prepare anything time consuming in advance.

The requirements are small.  I can perform a usual TeX Live network
installation directly from my Raspberry Pi.  You really don't need

BTW, when I said
 > >  The point is that nobody needs the ISO image.

I was a little bit exaggerating (as usual).  Truth is that many people
believe that they need it though there are much better solutions in
most cases.  But what I'm really concerned about is that too many
people download the ISO image and throw it away due to wrong

The documentation at tug.org is absolutely correct and suggests to use
the network installer.  The reason people download the ISO image might
be twofold:

  1. Using the network installer requires to read more instructions.
     You have download the zip file, unzip it, move to the directory
     containing the installer, and execute the installer.  This sounds

  2. Windows users expect that a software package comes as a single
     file.  They assume that they can download a single file and click
     on it in order to install the software.  Well, an ISO image isn't
     a WinShield installer, but Windows users expect that something
     useful happens if they click on the file.

Thus, I suppose that many people download the ISO image because they
believe that it's easier to use than the network installer.  The
documentation at tug.org assumes that people know what an ISO image
is.  However, if the usage of an ISO image is explained in detail
(especially how to use it on Windows), I'm absolutely sure that people
recognize that using the network installer is easier.

When I suggested to remove the ISO image from CTAN, I didn't meant to
make it inaccessible.  The idea was to move it to the archives when
the test phase is over.  It's a bit problematic because if many people
download the image, CTAN can redirect requests to mirrors, tug.org
can't.  Hence it's not a good solution.

Robin suggested to improve the documentation.  This is by far the best
approach.  I think that if it's explained in detail what an ISO image
is and how to use it under Windows, much less people will download it

Let me clarify a few things:

  * Some people said that it's preferable to download the ISO image if
    the Internet connection is poor.

    It depends.  Programs like wget can recover from interrupted
    connections.  Web browsers are often amazingly stupid in this
    respect and offer you to start a new download, causing a lot of
    unnecessary network traffic.

    The network installer can recover from interrupted internet
    connections.  I don't see any reason to download one huge file if
    network performance is poor.  

  * The ISO image contains too much stuff.

    It provides binaries for all platforms supported by TeX Live, the
    network installer downloads and installs only the binaries you

  * The ISO image is utterly outdated.

    Especially if the internet connection is poor, it doesn't make
    sense to use the ISO image.  You have to update your system after
    the installation.  This can take an enourmous amount of time.

    Using the ISO image and updating the installation means that
    zillions of packages are downloaded twice.

    The network installer always installs the most recent stuff.

There are many situations where people think that the ISO image is
useful.  But if you think twice, you'll recognize that there are much
better solutions.  TeX Live is extraordinary flexible.  All you have
to do is to read the documentation.

What I think is worthwhile is to prevent people from downloading the
ISO image accidentally.  IMO this can only be accomplished if the web
page at tug.org provides more information about the ISO image so that
users recognize that it's easier to use the network installer.  ATM
people believe that downloading a file and clicking on it is

What I find extremely unfortunate is that Martin downloaded the ISO
image, spent £24.98 for a program which didn't solve the problem,...

You also said:

 > Another option: install 7-zip (http://www.7-zip.org/) which lets
 > you "extract" .iso files (a longer step than just "mounting" them
 > but works nicely in most cases).

I didn't know that 7-zip can extract ISO images.  It should be
mentioned in the documentation.  This information is really helpful in
order to use ISO images on Windows. 

On the other hand, the network installer works on native Windows, no
need to install extra software in advance.  One more reason to use the
network installer...


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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