[twg-tds] scripts, enc/lig/map

Paul Vojta vojta at Math.Berkeley.EDU
Sun Feb 22 22:37:10 CET 2004

> From: Reinhard Kotucha <reinhard.kotucha at web.de>
> Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2004 03:32:19 +0100
> To: Paul Vojta <vojta at Math.Berkeley.EDU>
> Subject: Re: [twg-tds] scripts, enc/lig/map
> Cc: twg-tds at tug.org
>     > To do that, you'd pretty much
>     > have to be running two different TeX distributions with the same
>     > texmf tree (e.g., tetex runs only on systems that respect #!,
>     > afaik).  Has this been discussed before?
> I don't see any problems here.  A wrapper script can always launch a
> program which resides in a texmf tree.  Even if a particular operating
> system is too stupid, a binary executable can be provided (in bin).

You're missing my point here (or at least not addressing it).

I know of no tex distributions which support both #!-respecting operating
systems and stupid operating systems.

So the texmf tree would have to be both system independent and distribution

>     > In my department, we run TeX on Solaris and Linux, but the way
>     > our servers are set up, we have two separate texmf trees even
>     > for these very similar systems (both of which are modified
>     > tetex).  Lots of people have dual-boot machines at home
>     > (including myself), but since Linux doesn't mount NTFS with
>     > write access unless you're willing to take risks (last time I
>     > checked), sharing texmf trees would also be dubious IMHO.
> What do you need write access for?  

Because I usually use Linux, and wouldn't want to have to reboot just to
modify my texmf tree.  I'm more comfortable doing sysadmin tasks under
Linux (have you forgotten the contents of your own .signature file?)

>     >> As I said before, beeing able to switch between texmf trees
>     >> from different distributions is very interesting.  The more I
>     >> think about it the more I like it.
>     > I don't want to interfere with your computing enjoyment, but
>     > right now, doing that seems like it would lead to problems far
>     > more difficult than lack of a scripts directory.  
> It does not have to do with enjoyment.  I'd like to test whether the
> LaTeX packages I use are available on an other system.  In the past I
> just had to wait until people complained.

But the LaTeX packages would live in the common texmf tree, so I don't
see how that would be a valid test.  Either the packages would exist on
all distributions, or on none of them, and your answer would be valid
only for your particular setup.

>     > And, again,
>     > how many people worldwide would be sharing texmf trees between
>     > distributions?
> I don't understand your question. You ask "how many people worldwide
> make use of something which doesn't work yet?".
> Of course, nobody does.

You're right, you don't understand my question.

Rephrased:  *If* texmf trees were made system and distrubution independent,
*then* how many people worldwide would be sharing texmf trees between
distributions?  (In the original sentence, "would be" != "are".)

>     > The vast majority of TeX users write documents, they don't
>     > create macro packages.  They don't develop TeX software, and
>     > they don't modify the scripts that come with TeX.  Wrapping all
>     > the scripts exacts a small but measurable performance hit *every
>     > time they use those scripts*.  And what is the benefit?  It goes
>     > to a small minority of system admins in a very few special
>     > cases, and only makes a difference when they are updating the
>     > system, which is also rare.  This goes to the heart of why I've
>     > never liked kpathsea.
> No.  Wrapping all the scripts does not provide a performance hit, it
> is even slower, but it is much better to have one file only once on a
> system.

I am sorry that my English is so difficult for non-native English speakers
such as yourself.  It seems "take a hit" is not even in the dictionaries
I consulted; the closest I could find was "hit (transitive verb) : affect
adversely \emph{farmers hit by drought}"  Or, if you look on Google, you
can find examples of the phrase.

In any case, my point is this:  What are the likely costs and benefits
of the proposed texmf/scripts directory (specifically, moving scripts from
bin directories in the user's path to texmf/scripts// and having wrapper
scripts in their place (in bin) that use kpsewhich to find the "real" scripts)?

Likely costs:

	Small performance costs, borne by *all* users *every time* they
	run the scripts.

Likely benefits:

	Possible ease in applying patches
	Ability to combine texmf trees across widely different systems

Benefits would go to only a small fraction of systems administrators,
would apply only when updating the texmf tree, and are not at all difficult
to work around in the present setup.

Am I really the only one who sees a problem here?

--Paul Vojta, vojta at math.berkeley.edu

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