> 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

One main question to answer is the degree of integration into the linux
system. Sure, you can split teTeX into several directories, e.g. put
config files somewhere below /etc, variable runtime data somewhere into
/var etc.

In my opinion, you should only do that if you have a good reason to do
so. If you focus on your linux system and have special needs for backup,
system configuration etc., you should go the "linux way".  If you focus on
TeX and want to have an easy way of upgrading, running multiple instances
of teTeX / TeX Live etc. it recommended to keep each TeX installation
in its own directory tree.

>   What does the "VAR" mean in VARTEXMF?

Well, why care about names? It is the semantic that defines things,
not their name. VARTEXMF is a special name, because it defines the
texmf tree where you want to keep variable configuration data. Some
scripts (e.g. the upcoming updmap in today's teTeX-beta or TeX Live 7
and texconfig) use the VARTEXMF to detect your intention that you want
to put changed / new files there, rather than into TEXMFMAIN.

> intended use of VARTEXMF seems rather different. As near as I can tell a
> more accurate name for VARTEXMF would be TEXMFCONFIG.

This directory tree does not only store configuration files, but also
format files etc., so in unix terms "variable runtime data".

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

It is a teTeX question, since "texk" has no script which assigns a
special semantic to VARTEXMF. All those scripts (texconfig, fmtutil,
the new updmap) have been written for teTeX.

> FHS recommendations without preconceived notions. I suppose some of
> these questions are better asked on an FHS mail list but if anyone

As I said above: I would ignore the FHS unless you have a good reason
to follow it.

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

You should have a convention for putting additional software to your
system (I mean something that does not come with your linux distribution).
For teTeX, just follow that convention.

In the department of the university where I have previously worked
(with the name dbis), we have decided to use
  /software/dbis        for locally developped stuff
  /software/pay         for things we have to pay for
  /software/oss         for the rest. You see, I don't really care about
                        names; not everything here is really open source,
                        e.g. the acrobat reader.

Below these directories, we have grouped applications into categories,
e.g. Editors, Networking, Databases, Development. teTeX ended up in

> /usr/local for anything obtained elsewhere? (If that is indeed true, I
> think I would rather have a top level /local directory instead of
> /usr/local.)

/local sounds great. It won't conflict with anything else.

> not included in teTeX, what about making a common parent directory to
> hold both teTeX and the other packages:

Not a bad idea...

> 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

If you really want to share things between different systems, you need
to find a strategy about how to do it. nfs, rsync whatever. If you
don't need that, then don't care about these special directories.

> 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

Today's teTeX-beta and TeX Live 7 will generate format files "on demand".

Hope, this is helpful somehow...


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