[pdftex] Plain TeX commands.

Robert Howlett rhowlett at mail.usyd.edu.au
Sat Apr 2 18:20:05 CEST 2005

John R. Culleton wrote:

>>One source of confusion here, I believe, is that -- at least in some
>>current TeX distibutions -- the file that ought to be called plain.fmt
>>(because it is
>>created by dumping the macros in plain.tex to a format file) is in fact
>>called tex.fmt. Similarly, pdftex is usually distributed with a format file
>>called pdftex.fmt, which is created via pdftex -ini  plain.tex (or some
>>such). I think that pdftex.fmt really should be called pdfplain.fmt, or
>>something of the sort.
>>Bob Howlett
>Yes, there is confusion.  People speak of TeX and pdftex both
>generically and with reference to the particular command tex or
>pdftex. The particular commands include plain tex in both cases.
>When I say pdftex I mean the program as distributed, with the
>plain tex commands included. 
>As a result many people who use LaTeX or pdflatex use the
>generic term TeX or pdftex when they really mean the LaTeX variants. But
>after nearly four decades I don't think the use of the same words 
>to mean both the generic engine and the plain tex implementation
>thereof will change. 
>TeX can mean the base engine, or TeX + plain.tex or even TeX
>plus Latex. Blame it on Knuth.  
No, Knuth is blameless. It was clear enough as he designed it, with the 
format file
 called "plain.fmt" rather than "tex.fmt".

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