[tex-live] Stable vs. Unstable/Testing Update Repositories?

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Wed Feb 24 12:31:57 CET 2010

On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 5:51 PM, Karl Berry <karl at freefriends.org> wrote:
> Hi Claire,
> 1) People on deadlines shouldn't update.  The only combination of
>   packages that is or can be tested is the one that ships as the yearly
>   release.  Personally, I keep an installation of that on my machine,
>   and never update it.

There are many people actively using and updating TL, so updates do get
tested -- likely more thoroughly than the pre-release versions as more users
are involved.  Case in point: the problems with beamer were found and a fix
is available.

The issue is not so much with testing as it is with the unavoidable delays
between when an update breaks something and the wide availability of a
fixed version.

People with deadlines need to figure out a way to have a "stable"
configuration, but they also have a responsibility to check for
problems using a "current" version so they can update the "stable"
version when the schedule allows.

> 2) There is no feasible way for anyone involved (authors, CTAN, TL) to
>   know what a given update breaks and what doesn't.  So there's no
>   feasible way to have branches (in addition, it would be a huge amount
>   of work and a huge additional complication).

The best way to detect conflicts is to have lots of people using the
software (and reporting the problems sensibly rather than telling all
their friends "TL doesn't work"!).

> 3) I don't know what the problem is with the new beamer not making it to
>   mirrors, or if that's really what's happening.  The new package was
>   posted in the tlnet repository on Feb 19 (file size of
>   beamer.tar.xz=94756).  I haven't checked the mirrors to see which
>   don't have it.  In any event, I will attach the new file to this
>   file.  It differs only in comments from the patch that was posted
>   (thanks, Vladimir and Ulrike).  At least I hope so.

There will always be problems like this, and as authors retire or are
forced onto MS Office workflows the problems of orphan packages
will grow.  Still we are better off with TeX than the people who
relied heavily on Wordstar, Nota Bene, Macsyma or any others in a
the long list of defunct commercial packages.

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

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