[tex-live] installing parallel (by year) versions

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Mon May 13 16:48:01 CEST 2013

2013/5/13 Robin Fairbairns <Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk>:
> Barbara Beeton <bnb at ams.org> wrote:
>> ams tech-support has received an inquiry
>> to which the answer is "install the latest
>> version of xxx file"; said file is included
>> in tex live, but is not posted independently
>> on ctan, only in a .zip file or via .dtx/.ins.
> this is the normal way.  .dtx (usually but not exclusively with a .ins)
> was designed for distributing packages.  ctan will reject derived files
> (when we notice them), since the .dtx (or whatever) holds all that's
> needed.
>> on the possibility that the user is involved
>> in a large project that could be disrupted
>> by a total reinstall of tex live, i am about
>> to advise him that it's possible to install
>> parallel (by year) versions of tex live (if
>> space is available), and switch between them
>> as appropriate.  however, i'm not the person
>> to instruct him on *how* to set up such a
>> parallel installation.  (he's apparently on
>> a unix system, though whether it's shared
>> or individual, he hasn't said.)
> here, sledgehammer ... a nice nut for you.
>> i've checked the installation documentation
>> at tug.org/texlive and can't find anything
>> on this topic.  i thought it might be in
>>   http://tug.org/texlive/doc/texlive-en/texlive-en.html
>> in section 4, "specialized installations",
>> but it's not.  perhaps it's somewhere else,
>> section 7.1.5, "brace expansion", does mention
>> parallel structures, but it assumes they're
>> already set up.  the subsection "system-wide
>> root" in section 2.3, "overview of the
>> predefined texmf trees", but this too assumes
>> an existing setup.
> is the user actually using tex live?
> what is wrong with putting the generated file in the user's ~/texmf/....
CTAN contains dtx, TeX Live contains the generated files ready to use,
source files (dtx) as well as compiled manual can also be installed.

> i have long assumed that 2 tex setups on the same machine were the
> sign of an eccentric geek.  and of people like me (a pretty small
> class, and not geeky at all ... oh no).
>> adding a few sentences about setting up
>> multiple, parallel, year-specific structures
>> would be useful, i think.
It is very easy. Each version is installed in its own directory, as
default in /usr/local/texlive/YYYY where YYYY is the year. In order to
switch to another version it is sufficient to modify PATH.
/usr/local/texlive/YYYY/bin/ARCH must be at the beginning of PATH. I
have a script written in bash + tcl/tk that offers installed versions
and can change PATH in the current xterm. I can send you the script.

In addition, my PATH contains /usr/local/texlive/current/bin/ARCH
where /usr/local/texlive/current is a symlink to a version that I want
to use (cuttently 2012). When I decide that 2013 is stable enough, I
will just change the symlink and all xterms will use it immediatelly.

I have all versions since 2007 although I do not use them but
sometimes it is useful to see how things worked in previous versions.

> fwiw, i would *never* recommend a second installation on a machine.  i
> do it myself, but there are rather few of my behaviours that i would
> recommend to anyone else.
> robin

Zdeněk Wagner

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