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

Brian van den Broek vanden at gmail.com
Wed Jan 14 16:35:18 CET 2009

Reinhard Kotucha said unto the world at 13/01/09 11:37 PM:
> 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?

Hi all,

 From memory, the main stumbling blocks were:

1) What's a .zip?
2) Having only a dim recollection of the DOS command prompt from the
    1980's. (I don't know if the whole install could have been done
    without the command prompt. But, given that I was instructing over
    email, a textual interface is what seemed easiest to specify to
3) Being a bit overwhelmed by the number of options presented in the
    gui resulting from running `install-tl -gui'.
4) Being convinced that something had gone wrong when it took quite a
    while. (He reported 36+ hours for install-tl to have done its
5) Confusion when running `pdflatex sometexfile' at the command prompt
    didn't work. This one is partly my fault; I've never used any
    version of LaTeX on Windows, and I'd anticipated that, if
    somefile.tex is present, the command line to run latex on it would
    not need to specify the `.tex' extension.

I will write up a short text giving quite explicit instructions 
covering (1) and (2), reassurance that the defaults in (3) are sane, 
anticipating and assuaging the concern at (4), and specifying what to 
do at (5).

The question of a text editor is one I've decided to bypass. My friend 
has, in his retirement, been making versions of classic texts 
translated and edited with an eye to making their content more 
accessible to today's undergraduate. He's been using the Nota Bene 
word processor. That works for him, but the work flow he's been using 
produces rather ugly pdfs. Having seen the superiority of LaTeX's 
output, he's opted to give it a try. As his work does not require too 
much LaTeX mark-up and as he has, over the years, accumulated many 
customizations of Nota Bene, I think it makes most sense for him to 
continue using it, eschew any of its formatting options, and to save 
the resultant files as plain text. (I'm also trying to minimize the 
number of work flow changes he has to assimilate.)

He's actually been quite a good sport. He asked me if it mightn't be 
easier if he installed and learned linux! Of course, in one sense, the 
answer is `yes;' however, I'm not up for the level of email support 
that learning a new OS would take on top of the LaTeX support I've 
already commited to.


Brian vdB

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