Getting tlmgr working

Roland Smith rsmith at
Mon Sep 16 17:39:20 UTC 2013

On Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 07:59:32AM -0400, Jerry wrote:
> On Mon, 16 Sep 2013 08:26:09 +0200
> Roland Smith articulated:
> > On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 06:04:03PM -0400, Jerry wrote:
> > > Has there been any movement on getting "tlmgr" working on FreeBSD?
> > > The inability to get and install updates is annoying.
> > 
> > Basically there are two ways of dealing with TeXLive;
> > 
> > 1) Install it from ports. This also means using ports to update it.
> > 2) Use the TeXLive installer to install it. In this case you can use
> > tlmgr to update it.
> > 
> > I've used method 2 since 2007, and that has worked fine for me.
> The problem is that the ports system is not keeping individual TeXLive
> packages. 

My guess would be that this was a consideration between convenience and
workload, given that TeXLive contains a gazillion packages. Check the archives
of the freebsd-ports list for more info.

In _principle_ it would have been possible to make a port out of all
CTAN/TeXLive packages. But the maintenance overhead would be _huge_. Plus, it
takes a TeXpert to determine which specific packages you need to do
something, and even most TeX users don't fall into that category. So that
approach is unrealistic.

Given the amount of disk space on a modern PC, doing a full install would not
be a problem for most people. (Unless you're trying to run TeXLive on a
raspberry pi or a beaglebone, in which case I would respectfully question your
sanity. :-) )

> There is an old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Unfortunately, in
> the case of "tlmgr", they failed to pay heed to that advice. 

There were other considerations. Suppose a single "TeXLive" port was made,
that would just let tlmgr do its thing. What would that port provide, and what
would its dependencies be? That is _impossible_ for the ports system to tell,
because it would be determined _outside_ the ports system.

In this case you could get a situation that a program that depends on a part
of TeXLive could be installed (because the TeXLive port is installed) but it
wouldn't work because the right option wasn't selected in tlmgr. Not a good

Another problem scenario is that you use tlmgr to install something that
doesn't work because it needs a library that isn't installed yet.

> The ports system is not keeping individual TeXLive packages updated.

Indeed, but is that such a big deal?

TeX is a relatively mature piece of software. That's one of the reasons why
there is only one release every year. I tend to update my TeXLive install once
every year after the new release comes out, and that strategy has served me
well over the years.

> Besides, using a big, complex system like the FreeBSD ports system to keep
> the individual packages of a single program, in this case TeXLive, updated
> when the program supplies its own mechanism for doing so, is just another
> failed attempt at reinventing the wheel.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't? The thing is, TeXLive _isn't_ a
single program, that is the basis of the problem.

> There area also a slew of other ports that fail to install if the system is
> configured to run TeXLive. When they will get that problem solved is
> anyone's guess.

Submitting PRs would help.

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