[tex-live] strange discrepancy in running time of etex between TL2015 and TL2017

Richard Koch richardmoncriefkoch at icloud.com
Sat Sep 2 23:13:52 CEST 2017

If you use another platform, you may be puzzled by the above message. For many years, MacTeX supported OS X on machines with PowerPC or Intel processors running OS X 10.5 or later. This system was released in 2007, and supported machines made several years earlier.

This year the MacTeX working group decided to only support versions of OS X receiving security patches from Apple. Thus MacTeX-2017 supports OS X 10.10, 10.11, 10.12, and will support 10.13 when it is released this fall. The policy is explained on a page linked from the top of the main MacTeX page at http://tug.org/mactex <http://tug.org/mactex>. I pushed for this new policy, so those who disagree can blame me.

Another user very helpfully compiled 2017 binaries for older systems, PPC on 10.5 and Intel on 10.5 through 10.9. These are also in TeX Live 2017. The 64 bit intel versions are called x86_64-darwinlegacy. Until this year we actually compiled PPC binaries on a PPC machine, and 32 and 64 bit Intel binaries on machines running OS X 10.5 and 10.6. This year, the main binaries were compiled on much newer hardware, and I believe the legacy binaries are created by cross compiling. It isn't easy to find these very old machines any more (the trick is to look for very old users, like me).

I have no quarrel with the interesting experiment done by jfbu. 

I do want to disagree with his comments about "programmed obsolescence." Readers, particularly on other platforms, should recall that all recent OS X updates were provided for free by Apple, and in almost all cases supported older hardware. System 10.10, for instance, supports all Apple computers capable of running OS X 10.8, including iMacs from 2007 or later, Mac Pros from 2008 or later, etc. This is hardware essentially 10 years old. 

Several years ago I attended WWDC with professional Mac programmers from Portland. Apple introduced a new feature to make programming easier, and I asked them how soon they could adopt the feature. "We won't touch it for at least three years" they said. In a fast moving field like computer science, this is stupid. To their credit, Apple understood the problem, made upgrades free, and put enormous effect into getting users to update rapidly. 

University traditions vary, but In my University, the computing staff encourages users to think of updating as one of the obligations of belonging to a community of scholars in a world of security attacks. 

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