[OS X TeX] Error: I can't write on file '(name)'

Bruno Voisin bvoisin at mac.com
Fri Mar 23 10:44:58 CET 2007

Le 23 mars 07 à 05:40, Alain Schremmer a écrit :

> (3) But I am a bit puzzled by the fact that the TeXShop I just  
> installed still has teTeX in the Path settings. So it may be that  
> the fact that I had not uninstalled the old installation worked in  
> my favor.

I don't think uninstalling teTeX would change anything for TeXShop:  
its preferences, including path settings, are defined in ~/Library/ 
Preferences/TeXShop.plist, and are not influenced by the installation  
of TeX itself.

If I understand correctly your problem, the culprit inside the above  
preference file is the variable TetexBinPath, which must be set  
currently to something like /usr/local/teTeX/bin/powerpc-apple-darwin- 
current. With recent installations of TeX, the variable should be set  
simply to /usr/texbin; upon installation of a TeX distribution  
(teTeX, gwTeX, TeXLive, ...), /usr/texbin will be set to point  
towards the location of the corresponding TeX binaries, for the  
correct processor (PPC or Intel). See below how to change that  
setting (in short, Preferences > Engine > Path settings > pdfTeX).

And then, in case you have several distributions of TeX already  
installed, you can switch between one distribution and the other at  
any time using the TeX Distribution preference panel (in System  
Preferences). Each time you switch, /usr/texbin will be set to point  
towards the actual location of the TeX binaries for the chosen  
distribution, and the location where TeX looks for input files will  
be set appropriately:

/usr/local/teTeX/share for teTeX
/usr/local/gwTeX for gwTeX
/usr/local/texlive for TeXLive

This is achieved through a very clever mechanism called the TeXDist  
structure, stored in /Library/TeX. More explanations are given in / 
Library/TeX/Distributions/TeXDist-description.rtf, but beware: things  
get very technical there.

> (4) Indeed, when I tried to do the same minimal installation,  
> TeXShop & gwTeX on my wife's mac (also with 10.3.9), it immediately  
> complained that it couldn't find pdflatex and then something about  
> teTeX missing. Changing teTeX to gwTeX in TeXShop's Path settings,  
> though, didn't work.

If I understand the problem correctly, you should simply set the  
pdfTeX path in TeXShop's preferences (Preferences > Engine > Path  
settings > pdfTeX) to /usr/texbin. And then possibly check for the  
presence of the new TeX Distribution panel in System Preferences, and  
in that panel check whether the chosen TeX distribution is to your  

The exact list of choices available in that panel depends on the TeX  
distributions installed on your Mac. With teTeX, gwTeX and MacTeX  
installed, you should see:

- gwTeX-2003-2005 (corresponds to teTeX)
- gwTeX (corresponds to the current gwTeX)
- TeXLive-2007 (corresponds to MacTeX)

I'm not recommending that several TeX distributions should be  
installed: for most people, this would be more confusing than helpful.

In fact, the mechanism for switching between TeX distributions was  
created with the TeXLive update cycle in mind: TeXLive is normally  
updated every year, at the time of the release of the TeXLive CDs/ 
DVDs by TUG. The switch mechanism was created so that you can install  
the TeX distribution from the newly released DVD (say TeXLive-2008  
next year), and let it live for some time alongside the TeX  
distribution from the previous year (say TeXLive-2007 in that  
scenario) on your Mac, until you have fully tested the new  
distribution on your documents and have resolved all compatibility  
issues that might arise.

So for the moment, all this fuss about switching between gwTeX and  
TeXLive-2007 must seem pointless and unnecessary confusing to most  
members of this list. But hopefully next year, when several TeXLive  
distributions will coexist for the Mac (TeXLive-2007,  
TeXLive-2008, ...), then the interest of the TeX Distribution pref  
panel should unravel.

Hope this helps,

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