[tex-live] tl17pretest init

Richard M. Koch koch at uoregon.edu
Tue Apr 18 21:06:07 CEST 2017


A couple of words about the support change and then I'll keep quiet about the matter.

First, thanks to Mojca for continuing to build the appropriate binaries. She has
described our reasons for the change quite well.

Second, the MacTeX web site has a page explaining how to install TeX Live
directly using the TeX Live install script:

	http://tug.org/mactex/alternateinstall.html <http://tug.org/mactex/alternateinstall.html>

The advantage of this page is that you are told how to change a few default
options at the start of the script, to conform to the configuration of MacTeX.
If you do that, answers to support questions will continue to work for you.

There was a complaint about Apple's constant changing of API's. I do not
agree with this complaint. Last year, I built the ppc binaries on a machine that I bought
in 2003. It was 14 years old. I built the i386 binaries on a machine from 2006. Over
this period, Apple changed processors, changed from 32 to 64 bits and
changed the Cocoa runtime to solve the "fragile base class problem." 
And they switched from $125 for a yearly update to $free.

If you have an old machine, you can continue to use the TeX you used
last year. It didn't suddenly become obsolete. If your hard disk fails, we
archive all the old MacTeX packages and you can get one and be back
in business. Or you can change the install method slightly and use
the new 2017 binaries from Mojca.

Why did we make the change? Last year about 90% of our energy was spent
compiling and testing on old systems used by 5% to 10% of users.
This made no sense. Users who DID update their systems had to use
TeX software compiled by machines from long ago.

There is a more controversial reason, which I'll mention in passing. 
TeX is often used in a university setting, where there is increasing
emphasis on the need for security. In this setting, it is important for
users to keep their operating systems up to date and install the
latest security patches. When a user doesn't do this, they put their
colleagues at risk. I do not fear that TeX itself is a security risk,
but in this atmosphere it felt strange spending so much time supporting
systems which the university really ought to retire.

Dick Koch

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