[tex-live] TL2004: Technical problems and testing

Martin Schröder ms at artcom-gmbh.de
Fri May 7 00:29:02 CEST 2004

during BachoTeX 2004 several LUG representatives and some
developers discussed the current state of TeXLive and how to
deliver a stable product that is compatible with existing

Present were:
- Kaja Christiansen, president of DKTUG, vice-president of TUG
- Hans Hagen, president of NTG, maintainer of ConTeXt, member of
  the pdfTeX developement team
- Harald König, founding member of DANTE, XFree86 core member,
  DANTE open source advisor
- Jerzy Ludwichowski, president of GUST
- Kim Roberts, committee member of UKTUG
- Volker Schaa, president of DANTE
- Martin Schröder, maintainer of pdfTeX
- Ulrik Vieth, user with great interest in fonts
- Staszek Wawrykiewicz, TeXLive developer

The current situation was discussed and two problem groups where
raised: Technical problems which would severly loose backwards
compatibily or stability, and testing.  This was seen as a reason
for DANTE, NTG & GUST not producing this CD/DVD in the current
state because it certainly causes an enormous amount of user's
disappointment and support requirement.

For some time now the TeXLive distributions that go to the
membership of usergroups has been supported and sponsored by
Lehmans. This makes DANTE de facto responsible for providing
Lehmans with a stable TeXLive. This also means that there is a
whole group of users who are not members and will not be informed
about the changes at all. When we discussed this in the group,
DANTE, NTG & GUST suggested to let distribution depend on proper
beta testing. Only when the CD/DVD set works as expected on users
machines (pdf/dvi production as well as fonts installed by users,
i.e. the current tree in combination with other trees) we will go
forward. DANTE is willing to discuss a sligthly more liberal
schedule of publishing with Lehmans.

1. Technical changes which could cause problems
In the last months many changes have been committed to TL that
are either untested or would loose backwards compatibility.
- Search paths: The search paths for encoding files, map files
  and scripts have been changed so that existing texmf-trees must
  be reorganized. The change itself is a good thing, but giving
  up downward compatibility is too big a risk. This could ruin
  TeXLive's reputation.
  Proposed solution: Add the old locations of the files to
  texmf.cnf and if needed change kpathsea so that the old
  locations are also searched.
  We also discussed more robust ways of communicating (proposed)
  changes. No conclusions were drawn yet.
- Support for pdftex.cfg has been removed, causing compatibility
  problems with existing installations.
  Proposed solution: Keep support for pdftex.cfg, but declare it
  as deprecated and support only the mapfile entries. All other
  entries are ignore (with a warning).
- eTeX will be the only engine. This should cause no problems.
- pdfeTeX as the only engine. This could lead to several
  compatiblity problems, most with packages that are unable to
  handle pdfTeX in dvi mode.
  Proposed solution: Do not switch to pdfeTeX as the only engine
  now, but maybe in 2005.
- 8-bit-troubles (tcx): These have caused severe problems in the
  past, but are supposed to be solved.

2. Testing
TL2003 had several bugs which where caused by not testing the
product on systems of average (non TeX/os expert) users. The
proposed solution is to initiate a controlled beta-test program.
- Testers are to be searched in all LUG-mailing lists first, ctt
  later. Preference is given to people with a large number of
  files and who will actually test (power-users).
- Testers will be required to fill in an application form.
  Submissions are handled by Kim Roberts.
- A mailing list (texlive-beta) for the beta-testers will be
- Bug reports from the beta testers are to be posted to the
  mailing list. Kim Roberts screens the list and forward the bugs
  to the developers responsible.
- Iso-images and archives of binaries and pool files for the
  various plattforms are produced regularly and made available,
  via CTAN if possible, or other public ftp servers otherwise.
- If needed CDs can be burned and shipped by the DANTE office.

Time schedule:
1. 20040601: Feature freeze, beta releases ready. Beta testing
2. 20040801: Beta testing ends, master is prepared for
3. 20040901: TL2004 ships, when all problems are resolved.

- live-DVD
- live-CD (runnable from CD), 700mb
- installable CD

Best regards
               Martin Schröder, ms at artcom-gmbh.de
     ArtCom GmbH, Lise-Meitner-Str 5, 28359 Bremen, Germany
          Voice +49 421 20419-44 / Fax +49 421 20419-10

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