The Future of Debian TeX
Thanks a lot for all the comments I got about my initial posting some
For those who missed the discussion: I'm working on the TeX packages for
Debian (together with Dominik Eberlein who will join the Debian team
soon). Most of the TeX "base" packages haven't been looked after for a
year now and there are lots of bugs. So I asked if we should continue to
work on our own "TeX distribution" (i.e. assemble and compile the whole
system from the net ourselfs) or if we should base our packages on a major
TeX distribution like teTeX.
There were approximately equally opinions on either solution. So I was
thinking over the major points once again and came to the solution
(together with Dominik) that we will continue to work on our OWN
DISTRIBUTION for the following reasons: a) basing our work on teTeX would
give away the control over future development to someone outside the
Debian developer team, and b) it would mean to centralize all the tex
stuff to an individual Debian maintainer which doesn't go with the Debian
project strategy (at least what I think of it). (There are much more
arguments. If you are intrested--but I don't want to start the discussion
again--just email me).
However, we will of course have a look what Thomas Esser modified in
the original source distrib for teTeX (speedup patches, etc.) and we will
also have a look at his configuration tool. We try to include all "the
good stuff" of teTeX while keeping the control within the Debian
What I will do some time (may be in the Christmas holidays) is to write a
Debian TeX policy manual to describe the way we configured our TeX. This
should make it possible for other Debian developers to contribute packages
to the TeX system easily. (There are several points where the Linux FSSTND
supersedes the TeX Directory Standard.)
My plans are to get the new release ready for 1.3 (aka bo).
I will also put more work in getting more documentation and users manuals
of the TeX stuff in extra packages that make its info accessible via dwww.
Several people suggested to have less TeX "base" packages and then several
additional packages. I plan to have a "texbase" and "mfbase" package that
contain everything one needs to get a default system running up with extra
packages as "latex", "amstex", etc. All extra stuff as additional fonts
and special macro packages would stay in extra packages as the Debian
A lot of intresting TeX macro packages and fonts are missing right now and
I will work on this as I have time.
Some stated that teTeX is much faster since it uses some kind of databases
where kpatchsearch caches the directory info. I will have a look at the
patches and try to apply them to our system.
I had a look at the Debian packages together with Dominik yesterday and we
definied the following groups (just logical groups, they do not appear in
the file systems/ftp site):
BASE: kpathsea, mfbase (was mfbasfnt, mfbin, mflib), texbase (was texbin,
AMS: amsfonts, amslatex, amstex
LATEX: babel, latex2e-doc, ltxgraph, ltxmisc, ltxtool
DRIVERS: dvi2tty, dviljk, dvipsk, xdvik
BIB: bibindex, bibtex, bibtool
FONTS: mfnfss, psnfss, pandora, oldgerman, texpsfnt, ps2pk
UNSORTED: auctex, hyperlatex, latex2rtf, makeindex, xypic
Some packages may get new names and be combined when I repackage them.
So if someone has special questions, feel free to email me.
-- _,, Christian Schwarz
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"DIE ENTE BLEIBT DRAUSSEN!"
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