[tex-live] Ruby interpreter for Windows in the TeXLive distribution?

gnwiii at gmail.com gnwiii at gmail.com
Mon Jul 3 14:35:01 CEST 2006

On 7/2/06, Juergen Fenn <juergen.fenn at gmx.de> wrote:

> I wonder why the discussion focuses on Windows. It's all the same with
> Macintosh systems. Maybe even worse.

I'm no OS X expert -- my wife uses OS X, but not TeX, and I installed
TeX on the boss's X laptop.

Mac OS X, linux, and unix are all "#!" OS's (POSIX system calls, the
command shell supports globbing and will run a script under the
interpreter specified in a first line that starts with "#!") .   They
generally provide sh and perl and can share support scripts (updmap,
etc).   Missing bits (X11 on OS X) are on the vendor CD's and simple
to install.

I guess OS X users do have to find ghostscript to use tools like
epstopdf, and ruby for current

There are lots of Win32 users.  Depending on the background and
sophistication, attitudes towards free software, etc., they have
widely varying expectations.  For many
Win32 users, expectations are not met by any of the free "#!" derived
TeX implementations, not only because the installers are weak (xemtex
does use MSI, but takes even longer to install than Matlab, and the
fonts don't show up in the OS), but because functionality is missing.
Many Win32 users expect GUI front ends or editors (WinEDT) with
buttons to run TeX, and expect .dvi viewers (e.g., Y&Y's DVIwindow) to
allow you to cut and paste from the viewer into MS apps with a
metafile format using scalable outline fonts.  Many Win32 apps can do
this, so Win32 users who do much of their work in MS Office are
disappointed when they find free TeX systems don't support it.  It is
a serious problem for Win32 users in organizations that expect
presentations in MS PowerPoint format.

Win32 is not a "#!" OS and the machines you bring home from a store
are not particularly suited to running TeX ported from "#!".  Thus a
live CD has to implement the support tools and also arrange to provide
perl, ghostscript, etc.

Maintaining a TeX distro on _ANY_ platform has proven to be too big a
job for a small group.  One one hand, it is harder for Win32 people to
support TeX if they have to implement native Win32 versions of the
scripts in C as well as the additional code needed to replace missing
functionality.  On the other hand, it is harder for the "#!" crowd if
they have to live by the constraints of the Win32 environment, and
particularly annoying because Microsoft has shown little interest in
making it easier for their customers to  use "#!" mechanisms.

The real bind (for the contrarians among us who take perverse pleasure
in providing TeX for Win32) is that if you provide perl, ghostscript,
ruby, etc. for the people who just want to use TeX on a Win32 system
they brought home from the store, you risk breaking other systems
where users have installed particular configurations of 3rd party
tools needed by their applications.

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

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