[tex-live] install-tl with network location, but without sneaky updates?

Robin Fairbairns Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk
Wed Mar 25 12:20:14 CET 2009

Marc Herbert <Marc.Herbert at gmail.com> wrote:

> Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> > tex live is a *live* system.  when it was first released, its liveness
> > was no more than release a year.  nowadays, after the (nominal) yearly
> > release, there are patches regularly available.  for some people, that's
> > an advantage.
> Having patches available on line is great. But why do they need to
> overwrite the original release? Having both available as a network
> install would be even greater. This is a common practice.

sure.  and such common practice would be doable with more resources
available.  as it is, we can only provide one as a network install, and
that one is the latest patched version.

> Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> > the "release" is what you find in systems/texlive/Images
> > [...]
> > so take the dvd images and install from them.
> Philip & Le Khanh wrote:
> > Fine, I understand your need and sympathise with it.
> > How about fetching the TeX Live ISO (which is fixed,
> > and will not be updated until TeX Live 2009) and using
> > that as the basis for your installation ?
> Karl Berry wrote:
> > As I expect you know, you don't need to burn physical dvd's to use the
> > .iso images.
> Guess what? This is one of the first things I tried.
> Unfortunately I gave up on this approach for a number of reasons:
> - This requires setting up a server, with 2 Gigabytes space (whereas I
> need only a very small subset)

so you _don't_ want to use the dvds, but rather a reduced subset?

> - I lose the "proximity" benefit of CTAN
> - Last but definitely not least: exporting the ISO image content
> through HTTP or FTP does not work. I would need to use something like
> NFS or SMB/CIFS: a huge complication in a world-wide scenario (please
> do not start me on firewalls).

people _do_ download things like those dvd images from ctan, both via
ftp and via http.  i'm not sure i understand the problem (i can guess
it's because of rules local to the target systems, but i don't really

> Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> > in summary, if you want something static, go for something static, and
> > don't go in for the dynamic service.
> I understand that the DVD image install is static by nature. However I
> see no compelling reason why the network install cannot provide BOTH
> the dynamic AND the static services. Why tie each software version
> with a given medium?

because we don't have the resources to do everything, so we choose to do
what (seems to us to be) the best.

> Optical discs serve a purpose when you are away from a high-speed
> network connection, but as soon as you avail a few Mb/s they become
> cumbersome and useless. Didn't you notice that system administrators
> carry less and less piles of DVDs these days?

however, optical discs still have their place.  (i'm a sysadmin, i know

> It is especially disappointing to have only the dynamic service
> available on CTAN considering that you already have implemented
> everything (code and infrastructure) to provide both
> services. Install-tl & co are a truly impressive achievement in such a
> short time. So now you are basically just missing a "2008-frozen"
> additional archive directory mirrored on CTAN and the "static network
> service" job would be done! Of course more refined solutions are
> always possible (see for instance the nice "--enablerepo=..." option
> in yum) but they would require real work for little marginal value.

note that ctan only provides the bits: the actual mechanisms come from
the tex live team (who are spread every bit as thin as we are).

> Anyway thanks a lot to everyone who promptly answered, very much
> appreciated. Thanks to you I can stop wasting my time looking for a
> non-existing "2008-frozen" CTAN directory and move directly to the
> workaround phase. Still, it would be nice of you to consider this
> "static network install" CTAN feature request.

if there were enough money to go round, one might.

ctan operates, mostly, on sufferance in the network environment provided
by universities.  other people make demands on those networks, and so
ctan's use tends to be throttled: here, that throttling is achieved by
the central authorities demanding payment by transfer volume; other
places the throttle is "just imposed".

maybe we could do better, but none of us has a lot of time for
reflective thought about what is (after all) not what we're paid to do.

Robin Fairbairns

For the CTAN team

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