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Providing an up-to-date TeX system for etch: teTeX, TeXlive, or what?

Hi all,

this is something I have been thinking about for a couple of weeks now,
and some conversations I had with users and (pdfTeX) developers at the
DANTE 2006 meeting last week seem to show it's really important:

We should try to do our best to provide users with an up-to-date TeX
system on etch (and we should not hope for a teTeX-3.1, which won't
happen AFAICT).  Having texlive available will serve many, but many more
will just dist-upgrade their system and end up with teTeX-3.0, which was
released in February 05, or about 2 years before etch, includes pdfTeX
1.20a from October 04, etc.  Not to speak of the TEXMF trees.  On the
other hand, if we handle TeXlive a little aggressively, uploading betas
of the 2006 release to unstable as soon as possible, we can hope to get
a fairly recent TeXlive collection into etch.

Therefore, I think we should try harder to get the default TeX system
for users more recent.  I see three possibilities:

1. Update selected programs in tetex-bin (pdfTeX, xdvi [1]), don't
   touch the rest, especially not the TEXMF trees

2. Decide that TeXlive be the default TeX system in Debian, and keep
   teTeX only for package building purposes for etch.

3. An intermediate solution: Create the possibility that updated
   binaries from TeXlive can be used with teTeX, e.g. using

The advantages and disadvantages of these solutions, as I can see them
currently, are:

1. + Automatic updates of all systems that have TeX installed
   + The amount of work can be controlled well, hopefully
   - No updates of TEXMF trees
   - duplication of work, we already have TeXlive

2. + Most up-to-date system, including updated TEXMF trees
   + Easy to implement, but:
   - How can we achieve an automatic upgrade?

3. + Easy switching, should something break
   - rather a hack
   + Implementing the automatic upgrade is probably easier.

As for the automatic upgrade: Of course we won't gain our users anything
if we "decide" that TeXlive is the main system, write that in the
release notes, and stop putting much work in teTeX.  Most users won't
notice the change.  Therefore we should try some automated switching.

I have not thought about that in detail, but I think this could be
achieved fairly easy in szenario 3, by adding "Recommends:
texlive-bin-whatever", and either replacing/diverting files, or instead
setting up alternatives.  For the "please replace your teTeX by TeXlive"
I have no solution, unless we want to switch the autobuilders, too.

But I really think we should do something.  The pdfTeX people are
already annoyed by the presense of pdfTeX 1.10a from 2002 in sarge, and
so are probably many package authors.  And they are annoyed for a

Regards, Frank

[1]  what about bibtex8?  Why is it in texlive, but not in teTeX?

Frank Küster
Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Protein Folding @ Inst. f. Biochemie, Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer (teTeX)

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