[OS X TeX] problems after getting new iMac

Ettore Aldrovandi ealdrov at math.fsu.edu
Tue Nov 4 05:21:33 CET 2014

> On Nov 3, 2014, at 20:50, Herbert Schulz <herbs at wideopenwest.com> wrote:
> I guess I don't know why a directory named /usr shouldn't be useful for stuff that is used by all users of a system.

Because it is owned by the operating system; updates, etc. do not expect to find user-defined stuff in that location, or /, for that matter. So if you put things under, say, the /usr tree, there is no guarantee that it will be survive an update or upgrade unscathed. System installers don’t check because those places are their playground [1]. There are global subtrees which have been reserved for such purposes, the most (in)famous being of course /usr/local, but there are others: /Library (and notice: not /System/Library) and /Applications, if we stick to OS X, but more generally on UNIX-like systems /opt a common choice, where a relatively large package would create a subtree /opt/<package-name>.  This is why I think /usr/texbin is a poor choice from a system engineering point of view.

> By the way, if you are really philosophically against the use of /usr/texbin there is a Preference Pane put together by Dick Koch (author and maintainer of TeXShop as well as the MacTeX distribution) that creates and maintains a symbolic link ~/Library/TeX/texbin so that each user can work with a different TeX distribution. Go to <http://www.tug.org/mactex/ <http://www.tug.org/mactex/>> and click on the link (about 7 lines down) about MacTeX and Yosemite for more information.

It’s not that I’m against it per se, but for the reasons explained above. I am perfectly happy with global installations. However, I have texlive installed under /opt/texlive/yyyy


[1] A partial exception is /etc, because it contains (mostly) configuration files. And those are preserved during updates. If you check, you’ll find several filenames with -previous appended. So, for example, when you install XQuartz it will change /etc/sshd_config. An OS upgrade will replace that file with its own, but copy the old one to /etc/sshd_config-previous, so you can get your changes back up online.  /etc also has path information, so you can put add-ons, such as, /usr/texbin(!), or /usr/X11/bin, into /etc/paths.d

Ettore Aldrovandi
Department of Mathematics, Florida State University
1017 Academic Way                *    http://www.math.fsu.edu/~ealdrov
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4510, USA * * aldrovandi at math dot fsu dot edu

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