[tex-live] Supporting old releases: Using LaTeX after more than 5 years

Frank Küster frank at kuesterei.ch
Sun Jun 7 22:11:16 CEST 2009


Debian provides support for its "oldstable" distribution for a while,
and I guess other (Linux etc.) distributions also promise some support
for old releases.

Now there's a problem: LaTeX in TL 2005 which is in our "oldstable"
distribution, etch, refuses to create its format, asking the user to
update the LaTeX installation. The same is going to happen with our
current "stable", lenny:  It was released in 2008 and contains TL 2007,
with LaTeX from 2005. So in December next year the LaTeX format won't be

This is a problem, in particular since we completely rebuild packages
from source that get a security update, and that might involve
typesetting the documentation with LaTeX. Even if I accept the intention
of the LaTeX team, an uninstallable LaTeX on somewhat outdated
installations means not being able to do automated security uploads and
should be avoided by all means.

Now if we look more closely, it turns out that LaTeX issues only a
*warning* if you read the text.  However, the lines are prepended with
"! ", and therefore are treated as errors by fmtutil.  In other words,
the LaTeX format can be built fine even after 5 years have passed. But
fmtutil won't accept it as cleanly built.

Therefore I suggest to patch fmtutil's error detection mechanism and add
a special case for LaTeX's 5-year-warning. 

Should I write such a patch, would it be accepted?

TIA, Frank
Dr. Frank Küster
Debian Developer (TeXLive)
VCD Aschaffenburg-Miltenberg, ADFC Miltenberg
B90/Grüne KV Miltenberg

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