[tldoc] offer of help with an install guide for the unsophisticated windows user

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Wed Jan 14 05:37:04 CET 2009

Hi everybody,
before I comment Yue Wang's mail, let me ask another question.

Brian, could you describe briefly the problems your friend
encountered?  You said that your friend didn't know what a .zip file
is.  Hence I suppose that he is not familiar with any text editor too
and you had to explain him how to install a TeX Shell.  Is the TeX
Live installer really the most difficult part?

Yue Wang writes:
 > Hi, Karl and friends:
 > > Sorry to hear it.  It's supposed to be no harder than clicking "install"
 > > (and perhaps changing the target directory), but I guess not.  I wish we
 > > had a standard wizard.
 > This is not only an issue concerning the document. When I tried
 > Apple's Time Machine and Ubuntu's Wubi, I was impressed by the
 > excellent user interface design of these programs, and I thought we
 > can do that for TeXLive too. Honestly saying, the setup-tl and tlmgr
 > contained too much options and buzzwords for new users, and of course
 > we can certainly avoid that. For example, usually users are only
 > concerned about their journal papers and books. They care about E=mc^2
 > but don't want to learn something called "format", PATH, TEMFDIR,
 > TEXMFSYSCONFIG, texmf.cnf, or language.dat, and they are reluctant to
 > read the software manuals (inasmuch as reading the manual won't enable
 > them to publish dozens of papers on top journals). These should be
 > left for experience users. So I think we can make a new program
 > (should be more user-friendly) to the users. 

I really hope that you do not suggest to remove all configuration
options.  They are all useful and the defaults are fine.  You said:

 > The current tlmgr can still be there since it provide the user with
 > the maximum flexibilities for installation and maintain.

But tlmgr is not supposed to move stuff from one directory to another
one.  You have to tell the installer where you want to have things
installed.  Thus I think that the installer can't be simplified very

You also said:

 > Honestly saying, the setup-tl and tlmgr contained too much options
 > and buzzwords for new users, and of course we can certainly avoid
 > that. 

tlmgr is a configuration tool.  It would be useless without the
options it supports.  A newcomer doesn't need this tool at all.  It's
sufficient to install a particular TeX Live release once and then
simply use it.  I don't see any problem.  Avoid tlmgr if you don't
need it or read the man page if you need it.  Where is the problem?

You said that the installer has too many options.  It has a lot of
options indeed.  But it has a lot of features too.  If you are not
interested in these features, you can always launch the installer with
an empty argument list.  It will certainly do what you expect. 

I don't know 'Time Machine' or 'Wubi', and therefore I don't know
which improvements you have in mind.  However, Windows users swear on
the InstallShield installer provided by Microsoft and claim that
installing software this way is very easy.

Why?  When you are using this installer, you are asked plenty of
questions.  However, nobody cares about these questions because the
default values are quite resonable and everybody presses the
[continue] button repeatedly until the installation is finished.
Quite easy indeed.

Now let's compare this with Norbert's GUI for the installer.  Nobody
asks any questions you are not interested in, you get an overview
about all settings (all settings are reasonable by default) and there
are two buttons at the bottom, [Install TeX Live] and [Quit].

Isn't the TeX Live GUI installer much more straightforward than

Actually it's *much* better and easier to use than what Windows users
like so much.  They are bothered with configuration options too and
they simply press the [continue] button repeatedly without reading
anything.  The TL installer offers you to click on [Install TeX Live]
immediately after it had been launched.

You might claim that all the settings in the main menu confuse people.
But if these options do not appear in the installer GUI, how can
Americans be informed that they can easily switch from A4 to letter

User interfaces are always good for discussions but I think the
install-tl GUI is quite good, even better than what is available
elsewhere.  But as I said, I don't know anything about the programs
you mentioned.

If we don't have anything better to do we can provide a GUI which
perfectly solves all the problems we invented ourselves.  However,
I'm quite interested in Brian's experience instead.


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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