[tex-live] [Fwd: Re: TeXLive Perl + latexmk (windows)]

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Thu Apr 15 01:14:11 CEST 2010

On 14 April 2010 Manuel Pégourié-Gonnard wrote:

 > Hi Ulrike,
 > Ulrike Fischer a écrit :
 > > I have never used TeXLive but I'm sure there is nothing fundamentely
 > > wrong with the windows version.
 > I'm glad you think so :-)
 > > 1. The installation descriptions at
 > > (http://www.tug.org/texlive/acquire-netinstall.html) starts with
 > > "After unpacking the archive, move to the resulting install-tl-*
 > > subdirectory". This is simply not the windows wording. 
 > > 
 > Sure, but this page is not specific to windows. Also, see below.
 > > 2. The description in the main documentation is a bit better as it
 > > contains the word "double-click":
 > > "If you are using the net installer, or the DVD installer failed to
 > > start automatically, double-click install-tl.bat"
 > > But the naming of the install script is wrong. It should be
 > > setup-texlive.exe or something like this. 
 > > 
 > In the future, we might offer a windows-specific installer in the form of a
 > self-extracting executable (since objectively, the zip/move to dir/run a bat
 > file way isn't familiar to most users). I have no objection to call it
 > setup-texlive.exe if it can make windows user happier :-)

I think that the most important thing is that one can guess from the
filename what a particular program is supposed to do.  On the Windows
machine at work I recently searched for "setup.exe" and found more
than hundred files with this name.  Don't know what they are supposed
to do and where they come from.  I don't think that we make Windows
users happier if we do everything exactly as they are used.

And I'm sure that the word "install" is clear enough and even
unexperienced Windows users understand what it means.


makes sense if we assume that Windows users are unable to read but are
familiar with patterns like "setup".  But should TeX Live assume that
Windows users are idiots? 
 > > 3. The package manager in miktex is mpm.exe, and the configuration
 > > tool is mo.exe. The main tool in TeX Live is tlmgr. Now look at this
 > > two captions from the miktex and the tex live documentation:
 > > 
 > > Figure 4.1. MiKTeX Options: General Settings
 > > Figure 9: tlmgr in GUI mode. 
 > > 
 > > A windows documentation avoids to confront a user with "technical"
 > > looking names like tlmgr.
 > I must admit that such names without vowels are rather Unixish (the
 > mostly recall of the C library or POSIX function names, which is
 > probably not the definition of windows-user-friendly).

The opposite is the case.  Many filenames under Windows are very
cryptic in order to fit into the 8.3 scheme.  The situation did not
improve significantly after longer filenames were allowed because
programmers want to maintain backwards compatibility.  The names of
Unix programs are traditionally very short because Unix provides a
very powerful CLI and people don't want to type long names. 

 > It costs essentially nothing to change the windows title to
 > something like "TeX Live manager" which is the full name of tlmgr
 > anyway, and again, if you think it makes users happier...

The title bar in figure 9 already contains the string "TeX Live
Manager 2009" but I think that the caption of figure 9 should be
changed in the documentation:

  Figure 9: TeX Live Manager in GUI mode. 

Ulrike, I know that you are using MikTeX but I didn't expect that you
never tried TeX Live yourself because you are on this mailing list.

However, what you can't know then is that the TeX Live installer
creates several shortcuts in the start menu.  You can invoke tlmgr
from there without being bothered by its filename.  And I assume that
most Windows users invoke tlmgr from the start menu and not from the
command line. 

 > > 4. Later on in the documenation there are some screenshots of the
 > > gui of tlmgr and while there look quite neat, there certainly
 > > don't look like normal windows dialogs.
 > > 
 > Well, as a matter of personal taste, I don't like the Tk look on
 > X11, I find it less bad on windows, but yeah, it doesn't feel
 > really native. I'm under the impression that Wxwidgets and Qt look
 > more native, or at least more mainstream, but changing the toolkit
 > essentially means rewriting the interface (and other changes), so I
 > don't see it happening, sorry.

The main problem is that we can't assume that those interfaces are
already installed on all platforms supported by TeX Live.  The
installer and tlmgr were written in Perl because we can assume that
Perl already exists on all Unix systems and we have to provide a Perl
distribution only for Windows.

And there is one thing we always have to keep in mind:  TeX Live is a
multi-platform system.  It should behave identically on all supported
platforms.  You can install it on a Unix server and mount it on
clients running any operating system supported by TeX Live.  This is
definitely TeX Live's strength.  It's much easier to achieve with TeX
Live rather than with MikTeX.  See:


I don't worry so much about the "look and feel" because TeX is a
commandline tool anyway.  TeX Live provides very few GUI programs.
I'm convinced that TeX Live supports Windows very well.  What always
bothers me is that some people assume that unless TeX Live provides a
Windows-like "look and feel" it can't recommended to Windows users.

But I strongly disagree.  It's impossible to provide reasonable
support for Windows and simultaneously treat Windows users as idiots.


Reinhard Kotucha			              Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover	                      mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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