[tex-live] TL2004: Technical problems and testing

Karl Berry karl at freefriends.org
Fri May 7 15:54:32 CEST 2004

    Unfortunately the current changes do not permit us to use updated
    tex/font files with old binaries. Fortunately we have the temf.cnf
    file to privide us backward compatibility.

I agree.

The main argument against it is complicated search paths.  I think that
users would be far more confused by a new release which doesn't find
their files at all.

It's true that users will have little incentive to change, but this is
the same issue as for the pdftex->dvi problem.  I think we should act
responsibly, and give responsible users (however few there are), a
chance to switch their trees.  Ie, this year we put in compatibility
kludges, and we warn about these things wherever we can.  Next year, we
take out the kludges.

That way, when people complain, we can say "hey, we told you, you had a
chance".  If we just break them without warning, then all we can say is,
"yes, we broke compatibility, and we knew it, sorry, you lose".  Not good.

Users who just use what we give them and don't have anything local (the
majority) won't care either way.

Regarding the possibility of making a tool to automatically convert
trees: by all means, let's detect the old files, let's report the old
files, let's give users an easy way to change to the new setup -- but I
don't think we should change the files out from under them.  That could
break their *old* installation and leave them with nothing working.  It
doesn't seem safe.

Thomas, I know you hate the added complexity in the paths, but the fact
is, we have 8 years of baggage to carry around.  Having a year of grace
period does not seem so horrible to me that it's worth just breaking
things without warning.

I think it is actually good that teTeX use the clean paths, while TL
uses the compatible paths.  It makes the future clear.


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