[tex-live] Debian Packages of TeXlive
frank at kuesterei.ch
Tue Jan 11 18:39:26 CET 2005
I am currently the most active maintainer of the teTeX packages in
Debian. I learned that you are planning to create Debian packages of
TeXlive, which is great news, and I would be glad if we could coordinate
a little. I must admit that I never installed a TeXLive system on
Unix/Linux, and didn't bother to look at its structure when I did it on
Windows. So please correct me if I make wrong assumptions.
I have answered to Norbert's mail on debian-devel (see
and now I've looked through the list archives on Gmane.
1. First of all, you should decide whether you really want (a) only an
easy, automated method of installing TeXLive on a Debian system and
of telling the package managment that now some TeX system is
available, or rather (b) a proper Debian package.
a) In this case, things will probably be much easier - you can handle
the installation just like any other installation in /usr/local/,
have to make sure that "latex" on the command prompt runs
TeX-live's latex and so on (like always, I guess), and finally you
can provide an empty dummy Debian package that "Provides:
tetex-base, tetex-bin, tetex-extra", so that other packages that
need a TeX system can be installed.
If you also tweak your search paths to include /usr/share/texmf
(and possible /usr/share/texmf-site in the future), you will even
be able to use packages providing TeX input files (I assume that
the ls-R format is the same as in teTeX).
Installation of font packages or additional TeX formats via
apt-get would be extremely difficult in this setup, or rather it
would need manual intervention or simply double installation, once
for/with apt-get (which could be a dummy package again in many
cases), once for texlive.
b) Building a real Debian package would be much more convenient for
the user, giving her all the comfort of apt-get, not only for
TeXlive, but also for add-on packages not included in TeXlive, and
for packages depending on TeX binaries, like texi2dvi, xml-to-pdf
converters and so on.
Doing this properly, so that it *really* is convenient for users,
will require much more effort than the first approach. You have to
adapt to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (although some things
can be accomplished by symlinks), move configuration files to
/etc/, integrate (or Conflict:) with existing TeX packages in
Debian, and coordinate somewhat with teTeX's Debian packaging.
If this has been done once, the maintenance work for upgrades
might be not so big (as long as the internal structure of TeX-live
doesn't change too much), but in order to create the first good
packages, quite some sweat, expertise and communication will be
required, I'm sure. Usually this needs a Debian Developer or
somebody who wants to become one, or otherwise wants to delve
deeply into the topic of Debian package creation.
The question whether such a package should be part of Debian
*officially* is related, but different; a non-conforming package will
annoy users irrespective of its origin, and a well built one will
delight them no matter who did it. But packaging might also mean to
request some adaptations in other Debian packages, and this would be
easier if texlive was part of Debian proper.
2. Some of you wondered about the problem of architectures sharing one
TeXlive tree. As far as I understood, it is possible to unpack
tex-live on a fileserver, and then all machines mounting those
network drives can use tex-live with appropriate path settings. And
you were wondering whether this would still be possible with a Debian
If I got your concern right, then I must say that it seems to me we
are mixing things up. If you want a central fileserver with binaries
for many architectures and operating systems, then I don't see much
sense in creating a Debian package for this. Just go ahead as you did
before, and if some of the clients happen to be Debian machines which
need a Tex package to fulfill dependencies, just create dummy
packages which fool apt-get into thinking that tetex is installed
If on the other hand you want to share tex-live between several
Debian boxes, most of them small or just "terminals with a CPU",
then a Debian package is the way to go, and then the Debian way to do
it is in principle already sufficient for your architecture problem:
You have one main fileserver which has texlive installed, and which
shares /usr/share (or just /usr/share/texmf) with all clients on the
net, and /usr/bin with all clients of its architecture. Additionally,
for every architecture, you need one smaller fileserver which only
offers /usr/bin. In all cases, however, you have to make sure that
there's an appropriate configuration in /etc/, but that's a problem
generally encountered in such setups, not only with tex-live.
An alternative would be to manually unpack the architecture-specific
binary packages in /srv/<arch> on the main fileserver and let him
offer these directories as network shares, and here you've probably
found a weekness of the Debian approach, because there is no
functionality built-in for this.
Best regards, Frank
 Myself, I like the idea of texlive packages very much, and would be
willing to make changes to teTeX's packaging, no matter whether texlive
will be _in_ Debian or just _for_ Debian. But even for me it *might*
make a difference - if you decide to create a package _in_ Debian, I
will probably feel you are more committed to the project, and more
likely to work together in the long term, than if you just do it _for_
 There's a tool for that, equivs
 what's the fashioned name for that?
Inst. f. Biochemie der Univ. Zürich
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