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# Bug#225833: 225833: letter vs A4 in TeX

In the short term it would be extremely useful if you would document
what needs to be done on Debian systems to set the paper size.  I
eventually did
texconfig-sys paper letter
as root, and that seems to be working.

In the long run, my expectation as a user is that I can
set /etc/papersize once and forget about it.  I see there are some
complications in getting that to work (e.g., apparently some of the
programs don't even know all of the possible papersize entries), but it
would be really great if things "just worked."

I tried using geometry
-----------------------------------
\documentclass[letterpaper]{article}
\usepackage[paper=letterpaper]{geometry}

\begin{document}
This is a little test of the paper size.
\end{document}
----------------------------------
which did not work.  There were many comments implying it would, and a
few saying it wouldn't (at least without specification of a dvi driver).

There is way too much stuff, much of it dated or contradictory, to wade
through.  The remainder of this message simply amplifies on the "way too
much" theme, in hopes of convincing you of the value of adding a
sentence or 2 to the Readme.Debian (or TeX-on-Debian).

For your reference, in the course if figuring this out, I started at
tex-common/TeX-on-Debian.  This was the first place that recommended the
geometry package.  The reference to specifying the size explicitly was
puzzling, since I thought that's what
\documentclass[letterpaper]{article}
did.  (I think I now understand the issue is writing an appropriate
special).

I started going through the directories listed in TeX-on-Debian looking
for "A4" or "letter."  That failed.

I found a bug report, which led to 10 other bug reports, and started

I found the suggestion to use dvips -t letter, and was happy to find it
worked.  I looked at man dvips, which said it was obsolete, so I went to
texdoctk (I see now I have the info files; I thought I didn't).  This
lead me to config.ps, but I noticed that it didn't look like a config
file (not in /etc, not a config file by dpkg -s).  Around here I
realized that fixing the problem for dvips wouldn't fix it for other
things.

The bugs lead me to
http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=papersize
which appears not to be the recommended solution anymore (at least on
Debian), and had me wondering whether I was really using etex (I recall
quite awhile ago there was a news item about switching to a different
engine underneath.)

And finally I found the texconfig stuff, though that initially left me
wondering exactly how many programs I needed to configure, and in what
way.

And I had to wonder whether I should be looking in tex-common,
tetex-base, or elsewhere for clues.
--
Ross Boylan                                      wk:  (415) 514-8146
185 Berry St #5700                               ross@biostat.ucsf.edu
Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics           fax: (415) 514-8150
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94107-1739                     hm:  (415) 550-1062