[pdftex] pdtex + latex + cygwin (or linux)

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Mon Jul 23 18:30:13 CEST 2007

On 7/23/07, Kewley, J (John) <j.kewley at dl.ac.uk> wrote:

> I am keen to try out the various typgraphical extensions and
> justification  alternatives that I have read are available with pdftex.
> I write in LaTeX, mainly under cygwin.

Disclaimer: I gave up on Cygwin a while ago.  I get similar performance
using linux in a virtual machine, but without the minor incompatibilities
and glitches in Cygwin, so what I say may be outdated.

Cygwin provided a port of the unix teTeX system, which did include
an early version of pdftex, but is no lnger being maintained upstream.
You would do better to work with a current version of pdftex as provided
by a mainstream TeX system (TeX Live, MikTeX, Win32TeX, etc.).

It is really quite simple to get linux going in the free VMware player.
If you have high-speed access, something like debian's .net installer
would be a good choice (if you choose the "unstable" distro, you can
get TeX Live as packages).  I generally don't run the linux GUI, just
Xming in Win32 and a putty login.  This gives cut and paste with Win32
apps.   To share files you can use a cifs mount of a Windows shared
folder or some other network drive.   VMware machines can also mount
USB devices (but I'm not sure about the current status of USB2

If your workplace is like mine, you can find very robust PIII machines
(Dell OptiPlex GX1) gathering dust.  For someone working mostly via
the command-line, linux on a PIII is more usable than command line
(Cygwin or linux in a VM) tools running on a P4.

I would not recommend trying to install pdftex outside any distribution.
Pdftex isn't much use without the texmf trees.  There have been some
significant and incompatible changes, so you can't just drop a current
pdftex into an old tetex system, and there have been many improvements
to the macro packages, fonts, etc. in the standard trees.

> Does anyone know the easiest way to install pdftex so it doesn't
> interfere with the existing [La]TeX installation that is already there for cygwin.
> This would probably mean installing it within my own space, i.e. a
> non-root build  and install.

Both tetex and tex live take the approach that everything should go
in a self-contained tree.  Some linux distributions don't do this, but
instead mix the tex configuration into the other configuration files.
This has advantages in terms of package management, and does not
make it impossbile to install a self-contained TeX Live or other system
on a linux system than uses the merged configuration approach.
I prefer to install the self-contained tree as a regular user, so root is
not needed to do maintenance.

Unlike tetex (which was really unix-centric) TeX Live does try to
support a wide range of platforms.   If you don't like my approach
(debian linux "unstable" distro has texlive packages) then you will
have to build TeX Live  in cygwin (assuming someone hasn't done
it already), and contribute any needed patches to upstream

> I have a full installation of cygwin. I am familiar with writing and
> using LaTeX, but not the vagaries of how fonts are installed.
> In the past I have used dvips followed by ps2pdf on cygwin

With a modern TeX, many people can work without ever
encountering a .dvi file.   While you loose the ability to use
arbitrary PostScript code (e.g., things like pstricks),
you are able to use .ps figures that don't meet the EPS
constraints (just convert to  pdf figures).

There are now better tools for installing non-free fonts --
in many cases it is just a matter of running a script.  There
is even xetex, which can use system fonts (unfortunately,
for maths you are back to the old fonts) directly.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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