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Software packaging

I thought that this might be of interest to us in considering possible
ways forward with our packaging system.  I haven't yet read the paper,
but it may be interesting and raise some useful points.


----- Forwarded message from Nelson H. F. Beebe -----

Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 11:00:30 -0700 (MST)
From: "Nelson H. F. Beebe" <beebe@math.utah.edu>
To: tex-implementors@math.ams.com, tex-k@tug.org
Subject: TeX and software packaging
Sender: owner-tex-k@tug.org

I've just finished reading a new paper in the USENIX LISA XII
proceedings from December 6-11, 1998, available at


It describes a new software binary distribution packaging system,
mkpkg, developed at Hewlett-Packard (but available at the above URL)
that builds on the lessons and limitations of previous packages on
DEC, HP, Redhat GNU/Linux, SGI, Sun, and Windows 95/98/NT systems,
with a view to having greater generality and portability.

mkpkg has been used to prepare binary distributions of thousands of
UNIX packages, including HP's own substantial commercial offerings,
plus many shareware packages, including many GNU utilities (like
emacs) and importantly, also TeX.  The author suggests that for many
(smaller) packages, it requires a personal effort of as little as
three minutes to prepare a binary distribution.

I draw the attention of the readers of this list to this paper,
because it singles out TeX as a system whose packaging poses certain
problems that could readily be avoided; see particularly paragraph 2,
column 2, p. 251 on the paper.

Inasmuch as a development freeze for the new TeXLive-4 CD is just five
weeks away, there may be a chance to remove these problems.  I don't
believe that they are very difficult to resolve.

Please note that I am NOT proposing that mkpkg be used for the
preparation of the TeXLive-4 CD, only that the paper's points be
considered prior to its production.

- Nelson H. F. Beebe                    Tel: +1 801 581 5254                  -
- Center for Scientific Computing       FAX: +1 801 585 1640, +1 801 581 4148 -
- University of Utah                    Internet e-mail: beebe@math.utah.edu  -
- Department of Mathematics, 322 INSCC                   beebe@acm.org        -
- 155 S 1400 E RM 233                                    beebe@ieee.org       -
- Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0090, USA    URL: http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe  - 

----- End of forwarded message from Nelson H. F. Beebe -----

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