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

Rowland McDonnell rjmm-lists1 at
Sun Aug 27 14:49:44 CEST 2006

> Dear Mr McDonnell,
> I tried to answer your question

*Please* do try to see if you can answer me.  Please.  I'm really just
looking for documentation.  Honest.

> but stopped when I realized that you
> belong to intersection of two categories of people:

<sigh>  Well, you're wrong on both counts.  And you have done something
very bad: you have sent a message containing almost nothing but
ill-tempered personal abuse to a technical mailing list.  What's your
excuse for that piece of misbehaviour?  If you wished to insult me, you
should have used private email.

Unfortunately, I now feel the urge to attempt to correct your public
insulting misrepresentations of me in the same mailing list, which is
also a Bad Thing: I am exactly as guilty as you on this point.  Mea
culpa.  Nota bene: *mea culpa*.

I regret the inconvenience caused to those (such as myself) who wish to
use this as a technical forum for dealing with technical issues.

> (1) those break whatever they touch

I have reported a single problem with i-installer, which occurred some
time last year before I'd got to the `installed software' stage at all.
 - and on the basis of that evidence, you judge that everything I touch

That, I have to tell you, is a serious misjudgement on your part.

The MacTeX stuff that I've installed `just works' - I did report that.

The problem I have with MacTeX is not that it is any way broken: I
downloaded it and put it on my Mac without trouble, it installed without
a hitch, and it apparently works perfectly.

I did have a spot of confusion with TeXShop - apparently, I was supposed
to know that a dotted red underline meant `Spelling checking while I
type'.  I did not know that - how could I?  I don't use spelling
checking as I type with any software at all and never have done.
<shrug>  Doesn't mean I broke anything or that anything wasn't working
properly, does it?

It does demonstrate that TeXShop comes with inadequate documentation (as
has been acknowledged by other users of this mailing list), but that's
standard these days and not a particular criticism of TeXShop's author:
hardly any software comes with proper documentation any more.

> (I install and upgraded tetex on
> at least 10 Macs belonging to me, my family, my colleagues belonging
> to the same category (1), and never ever had any problems with
> i-installer; machines had running MacOS X 10,1 to 10.4.*, PPC and
> Intel and the people who you had classified as weird probably together
> have experience with hundreds of installations;

The MacTeX stuff that I've installed just works - what are you on about?

(as for this `weird' bit - erm, what? You have me confused)

I've been using Macs since 1990.  I've had OzTeX all that time.  Never
any trouble: it's always `just worked', even back in the days when one
had to use a desk accessory for the text editing during a LaTeXing cycle
(I remember SigmaEdit - do you?)  The only way to do a spelling check on
your LaTeX document back then was to feed all the LaTeX commands into a
local WP dictionary file (not as bad as it sounds if you recall LaTeX
2.09's source code as I do) and use the WP for the job - I did that, it
worked without trouble.

I've been using CMacTeX and OzTeX for many years - System 6.0.7, System
7.1, MacOS 7.6 (when I first got CMacTeX), MacOS X 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, and
now 10.4.  It's all always `just worked'.  I've ensured that by setting
things up the way I like them - which has always been slightly different
to standard.

I've been the sole administrator of `lots' (I've never bothered
counting) of assorted TeX installations - from 1990/91 when I was using
emTeX and OzTeX (it all always `just worked' without a hitch) up until

In the case of emTeX, that was a major pain in the backside to set up in
the non-standard way that I preferred - but emTeX had excellent
documentation (I think I've still got the printed docs somewhere), so I
could do what I needed to do and it was worth it, IMHO.  My non-standard
approach to TeX management has *NEVER* caused me any problems - not
once.  Quite the reverse, as it happens: my approach has saved me all
sorts of trouble in use, although it's often been a serious pain to set
up.  But I've always done so in the past and it's always just worked
once I've done so.

Based on a decade and a half's universally trouble-free and fully
successful management of multiple and varied TeX installations on more
than one platform, I am 100% utterly confident in my ability to deal
with any and all the issues that arise without any bother at all: I've
got experience that teaches me that I am that good.   But I do need the

What makes you think I break everything I touch?

I've got a home network of Macs and assorted other devices.  They just
work - I've installed Ethernet cabling around the house to make it easy.
No trouble: it all `just works'.

The MacTeX stuff that I've installed just works too.

So I break everything I touch?

I have a Macintosh Plus that would not run reliably when I got it.  I
took it apart, replaced all the electrolytic capacitors and some
critical semiconductors, and it now works perfectly.

So I break everything I touch?

I'm competent at all sorts of technical things.  I have a 1987 Honda
VFR750FG motorcycle in the garage which I've owned for about eight years
(I think).  It's done over 100,000 miles/160,000km.  I do all the
maintainence - and that's included replacing all the wheel bearings and
the head race bearings and the rear shock and front and rear discs (and
brake calipers) and patching up the plastic bodywork and so on, not to
mention sorting out any number of minor electrical faults that have
caused professionals to - well, not exactly scream when I showed 'em for
a laugh, but you get the idea (I wouldn't dare let a professional
mechanic work on *my motorcycles - they're just not good enough; a
previous owner had modified the electrics - no trouble for me to
untangle, though).  It just works too.  The VF500 I had previously
needed a complete engine strip and rebuild for a crankshaft repair
(previous owners had failed to do regular oil changes, thus causing
bearing shell corrosion which I discovered on dismantling the engine,
and that resulted in a destroyed main bearing one day - VF500s have
famously weak bottom ends).  I needed help to lift the engine out and
put it back, and I paid an engineering firm to repair the crankshaft,
but I did everything else myself.  It just worked when I got it all back

I can go on like this for *days*.

The problem I have with MacTeX is not that it is any way broken: it
installed and apparently works perfectly.

The problem is that I need to learn how to set things up the way I'd
like to.  I do not have the information I need to do so.  If I could
find the documentation, I'd be well sorted and could stop bothering this
mailing list.

> (2) those who blame others in all their problems.

Please show me where I have done that.  I cannot see the slightest sign
of me blaming anyone for all my problems.  If you can show me where I've
done that, I will apologise (off-list, as one should) and ensure that I
do not repeat the error.

I am blaming the people who put MacTeX together for one specific fault:
not providing adequate documentation in an accessible place - which is a
fact of reality, so it's perfectly reasonable for me to level that
specific charge.

> You see, among the
> people who you have classified as weird are some of the most
> knowledgeable and helpful people on this list

It's a bit of a shame that they don't have it in them to use their
knowledge to help me, isn't it?

btw, would you care to download and take a look at OzTeX?  No, really -
there's a reason for me suggesting it.  You might find it instructive to
look at the `Thanks' section.

> (I do not include myself
> in this category) who answered your question

But they did not.  They told me that it'd be better for me to not do
what I wanted to do, and have grudgingly provided answers to rather a
small subset of my questions.  I have found out some of what I need to
know by my own efforts, despite the fact that this mailing list has
refused to give me the pointers to the documentation I've been begging
for.  That's all I really need: pointers to documentation.

> but tried to warn you
> that departing from the standard way is not well tested and also could
> lead to unpredictable consequences in the future.

Well, yes, but so what?  I can see that what I want to do cannot cause
any problems if I am able to get the information I need.  I'm a TeX
administrator of over a decade and a half's experience, you see - it's
just that I've had no experience at all either with teTeX or with Unix

I know that what I want to do cannot cause any trouble.  I'm sure of
this.  I just need the information to enable me to do what I want.

> I do not like to start the flame war but I feel that you crossed few
> lines (insulting the real experts who tried to help you).

This, I do not understand.  Where have I insulted anyone?  I honestly
can see no sign of me doing so: please help me understand what I have
done wrong.  If I have insulted anyone, I shall apologise (off-list, of
course).  I sincerely wish to avoid personal insults.

> Believe me,
> if your posts were in  texhax or pdftex lists, you will be incinerated
> long ago.

Unlikely: my underwear is made of asbestos (nothing to do with the 'net
- I developed that level of personal robustness in the late 1970s).  On
top of that, I suspect that the folks on those mailing lists wouldn't
flame me.  Some of them know me of old - I'd guess - and if my guesses
are right, they're far too sensible to flame me.

> PS I am aware that top-posting is depreciated but I feel that forcing
> the reader to go through your quoted post amounts to the cruel and
> unusual punishment

Well, the conventional way of dealing with that is to [snip] the
unwanted text, isn't it?  Or haven't you learnt about standard
netiquette yet?  If you haven't, let me know: I've got pointers to all
the documentation you need to learn how to work with internet
communities, and I'd be happy to share them with you.

(Okay, okay, that *was* a bit of a gratuitous needling - but you really
have got right up my nose, y'know?  And it's quite a big nose ;-) )



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