[tex-live] So far.....expensive failure

Denis Bitouzé dbitouze at wanadoo.fr
Fri Feb 15 12:30:24 CET 2013

Le vendredi 15/02/13 à 02h08,
Reinhard Kotucha <reinhard.kotucha at web.de> a écrit :

> Hi Denis,

Hi Reinhard,

> maybe I misunderstand you, but do you really create a DVD for each
> student?

Nowdays, no :) I used to do that way before USB sticks appeared.

>  Sure, DVDs are cheap but I/O speed is very poor.

Indeed. Nevertheless, when possible (when I got them), I still use the
ones provided by GUTenberg (French TUG) for students who own a DVD

BTW, usually TL is already installed on the computers of our university
so students can start working on LaTeX during TL installation on the
laptop of students who own one (from either DVD or USB stick).

> I would expect that participants of a LaTeX course can install TeX
> Live simultaneously in a reasonable amount of time.  DVDs can be used
> but it takes a lot of time to prepare 20 DVDs.

Once again, I don't prepare them: either they are provided by GUTenberg
or I provide the .iso file on USB sticks.

>  Writing to a USB stick and installing from it is much faster, but
> USB sticks are much more expensive than DVDs.

Yes. What I do is to provide one or two USB sticks of my own containing
the .iso file and students copy it in 3 or 4 minutes on their laptop or
on their own USB stick. Even when I can't provide DVD from GUTenberg,
TL is usually installed on laptops during the course (2 hours) and
students who don't own laptops copy the .iso file on their own USB
sticks and manage to install TL at home.

> A good solution is to install a web server on a local machine and copy
> tlnet to it.  Then students can install from this machine
> simultaneously using the network installer as usual.  Traffic is only
> on your local network.  The advantage is that you don't have to
> prepare anything time consuming in advance.
> The requirements are small.  I can perform a usual TeX Live network
> installation directly from my Raspberry Pi.  You really don't need
> more.

Yes but, as pointed by Gilberto (and see my answer to Nicolas), it is
not always possible or easy to do.

> BTW, when I said
>  > >  The point is that nobody needs the ISO image.
> I was a little bit exaggerating (as usual).


>  Truth is that many people believe that they need it though there are
> much better solutions in most cases.  But what I'm really concerned
> about is that too many people download the ISO image and throw it
> away due to wrong expectations.


> The documentation at tug.org is absolutely correct and suggests to use
> the network installer.  The reason people download the ISO image might
> be twofold:
>   1. Using the network installer requires to read more instructions.
>      You have download the zip file, unzip it, move to the directory
>      containing the installer, and execute the installer.  This sounds
>      complicated. 
>   2. Windows users expect that a software package comes as a single
>      file.  They assume that they can download a single file and click
>      on it in order to install the software.  Well, an ISO image isn't
>      a WinShield installer, but Windows users expect that something
>      useful happens if they click on the file.

May be the case, indeed.

Another reason: at home, they don't have a (good) Internet connection
so they download from another place. But they don't have so much time
so they guess that probably they won't have time to download /and/
install all the TL stuff but that maybe they will have time to download
the (big) monolithic .iso file and could then install TL off line.

> Thus, I suppose that many people download the ISO image because they
> believe that it's easier to use than the network installer. The
> documentation at tug.org assumes that people know what an ISO image
> is.  However, if the usage of an ISO image is explained in detail
> (especially how to use it on Windows), I'm absolutely sure that people
> recognize that using the network installer is easier.

Not that sure, especially with tools such as 7-zip (see below).

> When I suggested to remove the ISO image from CTAN, I didn't meant to
> make it inaccessible.  The idea was to move it to the archives when
> the test phase is over.  It's a bit problematic because if many people
> download the image, CTAN can redirect requests to mirrors, tug.org
> can't.  Hence it's not a good solution.


> Robin suggested to improve the documentation.  This is by far the best
> approach.  I think that if it's explained in detail what an ISO image
> is and how to use it under Windows, much less people will download it
> accidentally.
> Let me clarify a few things:
>   * Some people said that it's preferable to download the ISO image if
>     the Internet connection is poor.
>     It depends.  Programs like wget can recover from interrupted
>     connections.  Web browsers are often amazingly stupid in this
>     respect and offer you to start a new download, causing a lot of
>     unnecessary network traffic.
>     The network installer can recover from interrupted internet
>     connections.  I don't see any reason to download one huge file if
>     network performance is poor.  

As said before, it depends on how long time you have access to a good
Internet connection.

>   * The ISO image contains too much stuff.
>     It provides binaries for all platforms supported by TeX Live, the
>     network installer downloads and installs only the binaries you
>     need.

This is an advantage when, as a teacher, you want help many students to
install TL: most are Windows users but there are also Mac and Linux

>   * The ISO image is utterly outdated.
>     Especially if the internet connection is poor, it doesn't make
>     sense to use the ISO image.  You have to update your system after
>     the installation.  This can take an enourmous amount of time.
>     Using the ISO image and updating the installation means that
>     zillions of packages are downloaded twice.
>     The network installer always installs the most recent stuff.

I should precise that I downloaded the .iso file just once when TL 2012
was released and used it with numerous students.

But I agree that, instead of the original .iso file, a better approach
would have been to maintain an up to date TL installer on my personal
computer and provide it to the students at each new LaTeX course I give.

> There are many situations where people think that the ISO image is
> useful.  But if you think twice, you'll recognize that there are much
> better solutions.  TeX Live is extraordinary flexible.  All you have
> to do is to read the documentation.
> What I think is worthwhile is to prevent people from downloading the
> ISO image accidentally.  IMO this can only be accomplished if the web
> page at tug.org provides more information about the ISO image so that
> users recognize that it's easier to use the network installer.  ATM
> people believe that downloading a file and clicking on it is
> sufficient.

Maybe providing more information about the ISO image could be helpful
but providing more information about the better way to install TL in
case of not so good or not permanent Internet connection could be
better. Maybe the best could be to organize the documentation by user
profiles, something like:

  * You want to install TL on a single computer and you don't have a
    good Internet connection. Here is the better way to process [...]

  * You want to install TL on a single computer and you do have a good
    Internet connection. Here is the better way to process [...]

  * You want to install TL on many computers (with many OS) and you
    don't have a good Internet connection. Here is the better way to
    process [...]

  * You want to install TL on many computers (with many OS) and you
    do have a good Internet connection. Here is the better way to
    process [...]

> What I find extremely unfortunate is that Martin downloaded the ISO
> image, spent £24.98 for a program which didn't solve the problem,...


> You also said:
>  > Another option: install 7-zip (http://www.7-zip.org/) which lets
>  > you "extract" .iso files (a longer step than just "mounting" them
>  > but works nicely in most cases).
> I didn't know that 7-zip can extract ISO images.  It should be
> mentioned in the documentation.  This information is really helpful in
> order to use ISO images on Windows. 

It should also be mentioned that, often, most of modern Windows OS
(Vista, Seven) come with a tool (WinRar?) that makes easy to "extract"
an .iso file (right click on it and see if it proposed).

> On the other hand, the network installer works on native Windows, no
> need to install extra software in advance.  One more reason to use the
> network installer...

Yes but please consider the users who'd like to download as quickly as
possible and install off line.

Sorry for my poor English!


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