[texhax] latex vs. pdflatex

Karl Berry karl at freefriends.org
Wed Oct 15 19:05:17 CEST 2003

    Does anybody have advice on which one I should pick, or 
    if there is a good reason to provide both?

Yes, there is a good reason to provide both -- sometimes it's good to be
able to produce PDF directly, and sometimes it's good to be able to
produce DVI.

It is true there are annoying inconsistencies and changes needed at the
source level, but that's life.  "Standardizing" on only one or the other
because of .sty bugs seems like throwing out the baby with the bathwater
to me.

As others mentioned, TeX distributions these days provide both anyway --
I don't know of any that don't.  Certainly TeX Live does.

That said, if you absolutely must pick one or the other, I would pick
pdftex, except in the unlikely event that you care about non-PostScript
output.  The reason is that pdf can be converted to PS with (I believe)
no loss of information, while going from DVI to PDF via dvipdfm or
ps2pdf can introduce quality degradation and font issues far more
troublesome than the original .sty ones.  In my experience, anyway.

Happy sysadmin-ing,

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