[NTG-context] Baffling error

George N. White III ntg-context@ntg.nl
Sat, 17 Apr 2004 08:44:53 -0300

On Fri, 16 Apr 2004, Paulo Ney de Souza wrote:

> This is part of the problem, I am in a Unix shared environment, where I
> have to place a request for the software to be updated and wait another
> year ...

Shared environments are tricky -- one user may be writing a book and
needs assurances that nothing will change while another user needs
bug fixes, not to mention questions about "features" that may pose
security risks.

Fortunately it is not hard to maintain multiple TeX environments on a
single shared system.  Unless you encounter a bug in pdftex you should be
able to use the current version of ConTeXt with the shared binaries.  To
do this:

1.  unzip ConTeXt in to your local texmf tree, e.g., $HOME/texmf
2.  create your own $HOME/texmf/web2c/texmf.cnf (probably by editing
    the one from the shared install -- it should be self-documenting)
    and enable it by setting TEXMFCNF=$HOME/texmf/web2c/texmf.cnf
    Note that you will want to have it put the fmt files in a directory
    you control, e.g., $HOME/texmf/web2c
3.  depending on the shared distro, you may need install the current
    perl scripts in a directory on your path (recent systems use
    scripts that run kpathsea to find the updated scripts from

If you have space, you can also simply install a complete distro
(e.g. TeX Live) in a directory of your choosing.  TeX Live and
teTeX can even be moved to a new location without breaking things --
normally all you need to do is adjust the PATH variable to reflect
the new location.

If you do this very often it is worthwhile learning to use the
environment-modules package so you can switch between multiple TeX
configurations.  It is standard on SGI Irix and can be installed from
rpm's on linux or compiled from sources (it needs tk/tcl).

> I am going to install Linux on my laptop and then move everything over
> there and see how does it go ...

These days it is easy to have a current TeX on linux, but if TeX is
tightly integrated with a project that requires a big shared system
moving files to a laptop may not be practical.

George N. White III  <aa056@chebucto.ns.ca>
  Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada