[tex-live] Symlinks to fonts during installation

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Thu Aug 29 00:33:58 CEST 2013

On 2013-08-28 at 11:00:05 +0200, Pander wrote:

 > Hi all,
 > I would liek to propose that when onse chooses to create symlinks
 > during installation that
 >   /usr/local/share/fonts/truetype ->
 > ../../texlive/2013/texmf-dist/fonts/truetype/
 > and
 >   /usr/local/share/fonts/opentype ->
 > ../../texlive/2013/texmf-dist/fonts/opentype/
 > are being created.

Hi Pander,
first of all, using the symlink option is not the preferred way to
install TeX Live.  The TeX Live installer doesn't change anything on
your system.  It just creates a directory "texlive" and puts files
into it.  The symlinks are an exception and only exist as a last
resort for people who do not know how to set environment variables.

Since the recommended way is to add the bin directory to $PATH, it
sounds odd to me to add new features to the symlink option, especially
if they are absolutely unrelated.  The symlink option and the font
setup of your system are two completely different things.  It would be
wrong to hijack the installer like this.

Furthermore, creating symlinks in /usr/local/bin is relatively
reliable but creating files in other directories is problematic
because these directories can contain anything.  It's simply too
dangerous to touch them.

In order to use system fonts with TeX Live, one can set $OSFONTDIR
appropriately.  Since XeTeX and LuaTeX can use system fonts already
there is rarely a need.  On the other hand, in order to use fonts
provided by TeX Live with external programs, it's necessary to
configure the system accordingly.  Neither the installer nor tlmgr
can manage your system.

 > In this way, systems such as Ubuntu can directly access the fonts
 > without any further configuration. This is an identical approach as
 > is done now for the files that end up in /usr/share/bin. When
 > needed also absolute path can be used.

The ultimate solution is to make fontconfig aware of the fonts
provided by TeX Live, as Zdeněk suggested.

 > What is the opinion of the TeX Live maintainers on this?

A few years ago the question came up whether we need the symlink
option at all anymore.  We decided to keep it as a last resort because
it's impossible to give detailed instructions how to add something to
$PATH on the many systems TeX Live supports.  Not to mention user
preferences.  It's not the recommended way to install TeX Live though.

I can't speak for the whole team, but IMO it's wrong to add something
completely unrelated to the symlink option.


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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