[OS X TeX] Staying on the right PATH (or something)

Bruno Voisin bvoisin at mac.com
Thu Nov 15 12:45:49 CET 2007

Le 15 nov. 07 à 11:59, Morten Høgholm a écrit :

> Judging from the comment below in the Texmaker sources, the author  
> wished for environment.plist too.
> #ifdef Q_WS_MACX //why the tex packages on macosx doesn't set the  
> path to the latex programs in the Macosx path (environment.plist) ??
> I will contact him and see what we can do about it.

Please don't bring ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist back! This file has  
been plaguing Mac OS X users for a long time, breaking things up,  
yielding numerous bug reports and implying hours of tedious debugging  
on this list and elsewhere.

This is because any change introduced via ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist  
affects all GUI applications, whether they are compatible with this  
change or not. When you're a developer and you know exactly what  
you're doing, using this feature is fine. But for the average user,  
this means an application is a bad citizen, modifying ~/.MacOSX/ 
environment.plist upon installation and hence endangering the whole  
proper operation of Mac OS X just for its own sake.

Getting rid of ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist has taken years of heated  
debate on this list, for these TeX-related applications which were  
initially relying on it (like Mac/LyX, or Enrico Franconi's Emacs  
Enhancer). Please don't bring it back.

Quoting some past messages from Gerben Wierda:

- From <http://tug.org/pipermail/macostex-archives/2005-May/ 

> I feel compelled to point out that this is not a safe and stable  
> solution but it ssems to spread anyway because of incomplete GUI  
> applications. The environment.plist file is a leftover from NEXTSTEP  
> and because it influences all apps it may have unwanted and  
> unexpected effects (in fact it can break i-Installer if the contents  
> are broken)
> The correct way is to have the GUI *application* (and not a global  
> setting for all GUI applications) set the right PATH before  
> executing commands.

- From <http://tug.org/pipermail/macostex-archives/2006-April/021702.html 

> However, it turned out that said user did meddle with ~/.MacOSX/ 
> environment.plist in such a way that it influenced (and crashed)  
> Mail, Finder, Safari and whatnot. The trigger was indeed in this  
> case libpng, but it could as easily have been some other piece of  
> software.

- From <http://tug.org/pipermail/macostex-archives/2006-November/025923.html 

> I recall only one case where the system was disrupted. This was when  
> someone had installed the libpng i-Package (in /usr/local) and had  
> set a dynamic library loading flag in ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist.  
> As a result of this setting in ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist, the  
> Finder wanted to link to the PNG library in /usr/local and this  
> failed.
> Personally, I would classify this as one of the dangers of using  
> environment.plist. The same problem would have occurred if you had  
> downloaded and installed libpng from source with "configure" and  
> "make install" (or whatever default mechanism libpng uses)

Bruno Voisin

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