Re: The Future of Debian's TeX packages
On Sun, 27 Oct 1996, Helmut Geyer wrote:
> Both packages (teTeX and NTeX) have full sources and conform to the
> TDS (TeX Directory Structure) filesystem setup. Therefore it isn't
> very hard to make sure that the distribution conforms to the FSSTND.
> As both packages were (originally) done on linux, they also have an
> FSSTND compilation mode which should set most paths to the right point.
I just browsed through TDS and discovered at least one incompatibility
with FSSTND: The TeX docs go under /usr/lib/texmf/doc where we are used to
/usr/doc/texmf. Which one should we choose? I personally would say that
our FSSTND has priority.
> The question we should work on is which of them to use.
> teTeX is the system available for most platforms, i.e. it works on nearly any
> Unix machine out there and has been selected as the favoured binar
> distribution of TeX/LaTeX by the CTAN maintainers.
But we would only need to get TeX compile on Debian machines (whatever
architecture) so this is less important. We would need to recompile
everything anyway, to apply to our source package standard.
> It is very easy to install,
> but provides only the basics of LaTeX (i.e. no special fonts, no macros from
> the contrib tree,...). NTeX on the other hand works very well on Linux,
> but uses an own package format it maintains using an own (though quite slow)
> package maintainance tools. This makes NTeX much harder to port to
> debian format (as you basically would have to either drop the NTeX package
> maintainance or to rewrite it).
I will definitely use dpkg as package format, so I plan to repackage and
setup up dependencies on my own. As I know NTeX, it should be easy to
repackage the NTeX packages into debs. However it is much more work to
create source packages on top of their original distributions and, of
course, all the setup scripts have to be converted! All this seams to be
easier with teTeX, since it doesn't contain that many packages!
BTW, at the moment we have a lot of small TeX packages. Erik B. Andersen
suggested, that we should create a few, larger packages that contain base
stuff everyone needs while keeping addons in smaller packages. This should
make it easier for the beginner and the TeX freak can decide which special
packages he needs. (But I don't want to have that many packages as NTeX
does! NTeX reminds me of Slackware: the philosphie is to get everything in
the distribution just to have lots of _features_ disregarding the loss of
> As most of the advanced packages of NTeX are generally not needed (and a
> small documentation file containing information on how to get TeX macros
> from the CTAN network should be easy to write), I'm in favour of
> the teTeX package.
I agree, but I also think the current TeX system in Debian is too small.
There are some nice things missing.
And you mentioned docs: I just had a look at teTeX and it seams as they
(or is it actually only Thomas Esser how develops tetex--this would be
another disadvantage, IMHO) wanted to get as much documentation into the
distrib as possible. I would prefer to have (large) docs in separate
packages (like the debian policy) and perhaps it would be nice to have
them accessible via a unique HTML interface.
> NTeX has one major adavntage, it includes XeT--TeX (for left to right
> languages), JTeX (japanese support)and support for Klingon, all
> which isn't supported by teTeX at all.
Well, would you need these? We could make extra packages for them, if they
are needed. Of course, Xet-TeX might be useful for some of the Debian
users and also JTeX, but I don't know how important all the special fonts
are (hieroglyphs, celtic bard runes, etc.) as they are included in NTeX.
Just as you said before, a small note where to get these and how to
install them would be enough (but it shouldn't be too much work to get
them in a package, so everyone could contribute some packages like that).
So perhaps we should have another option:
c) Base Debian's TeX distribution on teTeX but then develop it
further as we want to.
In addition, perhaps we should write a "Debian TeX Policy Manual" that
describes they way we want our TeX system to work, where files should go
(in addition to FSSTND), etc.
-- _,, Christian Schwarz
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