additional texmf tree for all users (was Re: [OS X TeX] Beginner help with TeXshop/MacTex needed)

Rowland McDonnell rjmm-lists1 at
Sat Aug 26 16:16:14 CEST 2006

> Le 26 août 06 à 12:56, Rowland McDonnell a écrit :
> > It's not paranoid to say `Well, i-installer has already deleted
> > hundreds of megabytes of data I wanted to keep, so I suspect that
> > it might destroy data in the future if I use it again'.
> >
> > Since i-installer does blindly over-write things without warning -
> > well, of *course* it'll delete data you want to keep.
> i-Installer has never erased any data for me, and I have never heard  
> of anybody for whom it has but you. It must be some error you have  
> made which produced this result.

It must be a bug in the software, since I am very sure that the
instructions I was following explained that data loss was impossible if
I did it the way I did it.

I had worked out roughly how to use it (with the help of the author),
and was using it in a simple mode of operation according to the
instructions - it deleted all the data I'd previously downloaded for no
apparent reason.  I did inform the author, but he appeared unconcerned.

> I cannot think of why you would have  
> to "crack" i-Installer in order to use it.

[Ah - that'll be my excessively colloquial English which led you astray.
Humble apologies; I'll be a little more careful about what I send to
this mailing list in future.]

The word was `crack', but I meant it in the sense of `solve the puzzle
of how to use the software'.  One has no alternative, surely?

I don't know of anything else to do when I get new software: of course I
have to spend a very long and painful time figuring out what it does and
how to use it, and that's the process of `cracking' the software, from
my point of view.  No code modification is implied :-)

<shrug>  It's the way of the world, isn't it?  I used to read the
manual, but they're not supplied any more, so I don't see that there's
any choice in the matter if one wishes to use new software.

(I avoid the problem most of the time by sticking to older software that
did come with manuals - but I think it's time to move on from OzTeX 4;
I've not tried OzTeX 5 because that works best with teTeX, and I
couldn't work out how to install and configure teTeX)

> Just use the thing as  
> instructed in its doc, it's already pretty flexible and should meet  
> most users' needs.

I read the instructions, but I could not understand how to use
i-installer from the instructions.  That's the main reason I gave up
trying to install a modern MacOS X TeX last year and carried on using

It seems that i-installer is in fact incapable of meeting my needs as
supplied - I gather that the flexibility is there, but the documentation
is hopeless and I couldn't figure out anything much from reading it.  I
had to correspond with the author and do a lot of careful tests, writing
my own documentation along the way so I could remember what i'd found
out.  My documentation (such as it was) did contain much vital
information that I worked out myself that is not included in the
i-installer documentation.

In fact, the standard Mac TeX installation doesn't seem to meet my needs
very well, and it forces me to keep files in places that I do not want
them kept, but never mind.  I'll just have to put up with the
inconvenience, won't I?

However, this is pointless bickering.  I just want a pointer to the
documentation which explains the syntax of texmf.cnf files.  That's all.
Please, someone?  Please?

> As regards creating an alternative texmf.rjmm tree, I suspect you  
> would need to edit /usr/local/teTeX/texmf.cnf by adding/modifying:
> TEXMFRJMM = $SELFAUTOPARENT/share/texmf.rjmm
> and probably other assorted additions/modifications further along  
> this file.

Okay - I'd sort of got that far, and I'm asking for help in learning
what I need to learn to understand the syntax of the texmf.cnf files so
that I can do the job myself.

Could you perhaps point me at some documentation which explains the
syntax of the texmf.cnf files?

>But again, I strongly advise against this, unless you  
> *really* *absolutely* know what you're doing; 

But I wouldn't have asked if I knew!  I don't know, which is why I am
asking for help in finding the documentation to explain to me what I
need to know about configuring teTeX.

Specifically, I would like to know where to find the documentation which
explains the syntax of the contents of texmf.cnf.

-  I know exactly where I want to keep my files and why, from the
(La)TeX and data management point of view, but I'm completely clueless
about teTeX configuration and would like some help in finding the
documentation which explains how to do it.  OzTeX and CMacTeX both come
with instructions on how to modify their configurations, and I've
heavily modified both.  I'd like to set teTeX up to work the way I'd
like to work, and if I could find documentation equivalent to that which
comes with OzTeX and CMacTeX, I'd be well away and could stop asking
pathetic questions on this mailing list.

>and are ready to face  
> the consequences in case something goes wrong -- knowing you'll be  
> mostly on your own if something does.

Well, yes, and that's why I've asked for pointers to documentation to
explain about the syntax of these texmf.cnf files.

Do you know of any such documentation?  If so, could you please tell me
where to find it so I can learn what I need to learn?

> As regards the order in which the texmf trees are searched, you can  
> use kpsewhich.

Okay, but how does this work?  Does teTeX use the first occurance of a
file that it comes across, or the last occurance, or something else?

> For example, in order to know where LaTeX looks for  
> standard input files (of extensions .tex, .cls, .sty, .fd, and so  
> forth), you may try in Terminal:
>   kpsewhich -progname=latex -show-path=.tex
> as instructed in /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.gwtex/ 
> README.howtexfindsfiles. The detailed manual of kpsewhich is section  
> 3.5 of /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf.tetex/doc/programs/kpathsea.pdf.

Okay.  I've looked at the document.  I'm afraid I can't make any sense
at all out of section 3.5.  Do you have a pointer to some documentation
that would help me understand the basic background to what's going on
here?  I think you're assuming that I have lot of knowledge about Unix
and teTeX that I do not in fact possess.  I've been a GUI-only person
for a very long time.

If you could point me at some introductory documentation, that would be
very nice.

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