[tex-live] TeXLive has no stable source tree and resorts to DVD with binaries?

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Mon Apr 11 18:28:33 CEST 2011

On Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 9:47 AM, Kārlis Repsons
<karlis.repsons at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sunday 10 April 2011 16:24:29 Reinhard Kotucha wrote:
>> The Build tree is only for developers, not for users.  If someone
>> really wants to compile the binaries himself, he should check out the
>> sources of the latest stable release.
> /Short got long, but anyway/
> Please explain about what is a stable release here? What svn co? I can do
> checkout, but don't know where else to begin with my basic question: in what
> way should I maintain usable TeXLive installations^, if I want each to be both
> locally compiled from sources and as recent&tested as possible -- for
> production use?

You have to make some tradeoffs -- older TeX systems will have fewer
undiscovered bugs (meaning you can read the bug reports to see if they
affect your workload).  Newer systems have fewer old bugs and more
that have yet to be discovered.

Different workloads need different choices. My own work involves a mix
of legacy documents and stuff written recently, so for me it is
convenient to have a legacy TL (from a linux vendor) and also the
current year's CTAN TL.  Both are readily available and at least somewhat
maintained, but more importantly, both are widely used and have
bug reporting.  The vast majority of problems I encounter have been
reported by others.

> (I realize this is all a Free Software with no warranties, but there ought to
> be some answer better than others...)

All the information you need to make decisions is readily available.  If you
spend a bit of time scanning newsgroups (comp.text.tex) and list archives
you should gain some feeling for a) what others use, and b) what problems
they are encountering.

> ^ since TeXLive can change in many ways, I consider it better to have a folder
> with installations (say 2009, 2010 etc); there are still quite many things
> unclear to me, say, what are the external dependencies of TeXLive? (implies
> how soon an old installation might become useless in an up-to-date system)

TL provides many of the libraries needed to build the binaries, but does rely
on widely available tools (perl, ghostscript, etc.).   Some components depend
on  less widely available tools (clisp, fontconfig) and are not compiled on all
platforms.    TL is used across a wide range of platforms so avoids using
"unstable" features of the 3rd party tools, but since TL mostly packages
what authors provide, there can be exceptions.

> PS:
> I've never tried, so could someone tell me how hard it is to build a whole of
> TeXLive? (I'm on gentoo with all of the development tools and quite a bit of
> experience)

Building on recent linux intel platforms should not be difficult, but
it will be
helpful if you have some familiarity with the way TeX works as the whole
setup seems very strange to some people.

Why not get ctan/systems/texlive/Source/texlive-20100720-source.tar.xz
and see for yourself?   There are reasonable good instructions for building
in the archive.

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

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