[OS X TeX] Re: TeX on the iPad (again)

Nicola nvitacolonna at gmail.com
Sun May 30 17:09:56 CEST 2010

In article <70FACB3C-67BF-431A-B648-2030EA2A2331 at lse.ac.uk>,
 "J. McKenzie Alexander" 
 <jalex at lse.ac.uk> wrote:
> are there any plans to bring a version of TeX, even a minimal version, to the 
> iPad?

I have no plans :) But I would be interested in such a port, which, I 
believe, is technically possible. Given the architecture of iPhone OS, 
the only feasible possibility may be to build a "monolithic" application 
embedding, besides an editor and a viewer, also the tex source (as 
opposed to calling tex as an external program). Since this is 
(translatable to) C code, it might be easily integrated with Objective-C 

I don't think that is possible to keep tex (or any other program/script) 
as an external executable within an application bundle. As far as I 
know, the iPhone SDK (3.2) does not include NSTask (a class that allows 
a program to execute a process) and, although standard C fork/exec calls 
seem to be there (and they work in the iPhone Simulator), I am pretty 
sure that they are not allowed on a device (but I cannot test that), 
otherwise removing NSTask in the first place would have been pointless.

Of course, TeX is not just one binary program... But, at least as a 
proof of concept, it would be interesting to isolate the bare minimum 
needed to run a (plain) TeX system and try to build that into a single 

I'm curious what others, especially developers, think about it. I have 
little knowledge of the TeX infrastructure (in particular, I don't know 
what the "bare minimum" is), so I may be grossly misled.


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