I am thinking over the problem of maintaining a complex TeX system with
several TDS trees (on a Unix computer), looking at documentation such as
kpathsea.info, teTeX-FAQ, TETEXDOC.tex, and http://www.pathname.com/fhs
(Filesystem Hierarchical Standard). I am puzzled in particular in trying
to understand:

  What does the "VAR" mean in VARTEXMF?

There is a small mention of TeX in the FHS documentation already (using
/var/cache/fonts for auto-generated font files), and if I understand
correctly this is where the "VAR" comes from in VARTEXFONTS. But the
intended use of VARTEXMF seems rather different. As near as I can tell a
more accurate name for VARTEXMF would be TEXMFCONFIG.

(Is this a texk question rather than a teTeX question?)

Suppose that one wanted to attempt to follow the FHS insofar as
reasonable. Many questions are unclear to someone who simply reads the
FHS recommendations without preconceived notions. I suppose some of
these questions are better asked on an FHS mail list but if anyone
reading this is willing to share their opinion I think other teTeX users
would also be interested.

For example:

---What is difference between /opt and /usr/local? I.e., what is the
best "main" location for teTeX? Why?

  /opt/teTeX ?
  /usr/local/teTeX ?

Is /opt only for additional packages provided by your Unix vendor, and
/usr/local for anything obtained elsewhere? (If that is indeed true, I
think I would rather have a top level /local directory instead of

But here are some more quotes about /opt:

  Generally, all data required to support a package on a system must be
  present within /opt/<package>, including files intended to be copied
  into /etc/opt/<package> and /var/opt/<package> as well as reserved
  directories in /opt.


  Distributions may install software in /opt, but must not modify or
  delete software installed by the local system administrator without
  the assent of the local system administrator.

Considering also that there are TeX-related packages out there that are
not included in teTeX, what about making a common parent directory to
hold both teTeX and the other packages:

  /opt/texstuff/teTeX ?
  /usr/local/texstuff/teTeX ?

---What about /usr/share/texmf?

The FHS description of the /usr/share area makes it seem that all the
run-time TeX input files for LaTeX and similar should go here. Or, how
much of this should better go into /opt/share or /usr/local/share
instead? Why?

  The /usr/share hierarchy is for all read-only architecture independent
  data files.

  This hierarchy is intended to be shareable among all architecture
  platforms of a given OS; thus, for example, a site with i386, Alpha, and
  PPC platforms might maintain a single /usr/share directory that is
  centrally-mounted. Note, however, that /usr/share is generally not
  intended to be shared by different OSes or by different releases of the
  same OS.

And then again, if you have material (such as a LaTeX package) that IS
shareable across different OSes, does that mean it should go somewhere

---What can go in /var/cache?

  5.5 /var/cache : Application cache data

  5.5.1 Purpose

  /var/cache is intended for cached data from applications. Such data is
  locally generated as a result of time-consuming I/O or calculation. The
  application must be able to regenerate or restore the data. Unlike
  /var/spool, the cached files can be deleted without data loss. The data
  must remain valid between invocations of the application and rebooting
  the system.

  Files located under /var/cache may be expired in an application specific
  manner, by the system administrator, or both. The application must
  always be able to recover from manual deletion of these files (generally
  because of a disk space shortage). No other requirements are made on the
  data format of the cache directories.

The first paragraph could be construed to cover TeX format files, but
then one would want the "application specific manner" of expiring them
to be extremely slow. And also format files are not yet generated on
demand, last I knew? Although it would be feasible if sufficient fmtutil
setup is done and tex had a mktexfmt script to go along with the other
mktex... scripts.

Regards, Michael Downes

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