[OS X TeX] Testing Hardened Runtime in Basic TeX: no texdoc in Basic TeX!

Richard Koch koch at uoregon.edu
Thu May 23 18:23:40 CEST 2019

A short history lesson:

Many years ago when CD's and DVD's were a big deal, Wendy McKay was the Mac's biggest fan in TUG and Jerry Marsden's TeX Expert at Cal Tech. She had two dreams. One was that TUG would create a DVD containing TeX for the Mac and provide it free to campus computer stores. When a student bought a Mac, the store would say "we see that you are majoring in a technical area, so perhaps you'd like one of these free TeX DVD's." Pretty soon, all the physics, economics, computer science, and math students would be using TeX.

Wendy's second dream was that we could convince Apple to put TeX on the system disk. For a while Apple put XCode on these disks as an optional install. Why not TeX as well?

Wendy knew an Apple engineer who had gone to Cal Tech. That engineer investigated and found that there was no chance of TeX on the system disk if it was larger than 40 megs There is a Jim Carrey movie where a girl tells him that their chances of dating are one in a million, and he replies "so you're telling me that I really have a chance!" Our reaction to the Apple engineer was similar.

With a fair amount of work we managed to get TeX down to around 60 megs. Surprisingly, standard documents still typeset fine, and we managed to include the Latin Modern fonts and thus make a package useful in Europe.
There was a little more low level discussion with Apple and the dream of TeX on the system disk slowly evaporated. But when we made BasicTeX available, a surprising number of users found it useful. Eventually TUG made our selection of packages one of the installation schemes for all platforms (the simple scheme).

I'm a strong believer in the philosophy "even beginners should install the full TeX Live because then they have everything and examples from books just work." I definitely don't want to participate in the morass that would follow if we started modifying BasicTeX by adding just one more package, and then just one more, and then ...

BasicTeX is useful for users with very poor internet connections, or those more interested in writing mathematics than in fine details of typesetting, or for testing (as in the current hardened runtime test). As soon as missing packages lead to frustration, it is time to switch to the full TeX Live. Most users should start with the whole thing.

Dick Koch

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