[NTG-context] linux installations

Thomas A. Schmitz thomas.schmitz at uni-bonn.de
Tue Dec 13 14:06:00 CET 2005

Taco, Hans,

thanks for your reactions. And I see that Taco speaks from (bad)  
experience. I have always fiddled around and tried to make ConTeXt  
work in the linux distros i have tried so far (since I'm on ppc,  
there were four of them: gentoo, fedora, ubuntu, suse), but have  
never made any systematic approach. I'm really grateful for Taco's  
explanations; this helps me a lot.

On Dec 13, 2005, at 11:55 AM, Taco Hoekwater wrote:

> I believe this is quite hard, because every distribution has a
> slightly different teTeX setup. My view was: if you want an up-to-date
> ConTeXt, start out fresh. Otherwise, you can save yourself an enormous
> hassle by learning to live with an outdated system.
> If you want to spend time on this, then kudos to you, but I have
> given up on the distribution-supplied TeX's altogether.
> Now you often still have a broken ConTeXt distribution, even if you
> can get 4. to work, because you also need the latest latin-modern
> font distribution.
> And for that, you have to make another set of changes to texmf.cnf
> because the older latin-moderns used different paths and filenames
> for just about everything, and you have to make sure the new ones
> are found. And don't forget that you probably have to fix updmap's
> config file as well to make sure dvips remains working.
> You'll also still have a rather outdated pdftex and metapost, but
> I guess that is not really a big deal for most people.
OK, what about that: my aim would be to have one up-to-date ConTeXt  
installation in TEXMFLOCAL and leave everything else pretty much  
untouched. One could easily add a step to unzip cont-lmt.zip into  
TEXMFLOCAL as well. I've done it and it doesn't appear to break  
things with other TeX programs (disclaimer: I use pdf*tex  
exclusively, so I don't know about dvips).

> That solution is fine. Here's what happened. In the "really old" days,
> formats ended with .fmt, like plain.fmt.
> When etex and omega came around, they identified themselves by having
> e.g. plain.efmt (note the extra "e"), so that they could coexist
> happily.
> However, this cluttered the build system quite a bit, so recently it
> was decided to drop the extra characters. At that time, it was
> understood that there would be an extra subdirectory below texmf/web2c
> to differentiate between the different engines (at least, that is what
> Hans and I gathered from the discussion). So you would have, e.g.
> "web2c/pdfetex/cont-en.fmt"  as well as "web2c/omega/cont-en.fmt".
> But it turned out that since LaTeX has separate names for the
> different formats anyway (Lambda etc.), ConTeXt was the only client
> of this new feature, and Thomas Esser decided that it was not worth
> the effort to support these extra directories.
> However, for ConText it  would be very, very unwieldy to have cont- 
> pdfetex-en.fmt, cont-xetex-en.fmt, cont-aleph-en.fmt etc., each six
> or seven times. And because context is always called through texexec,
> the latest texexec's implement this engine subdirectory functionality
> for you.
> Finally, what goes wrong: unless you either delete the teTeX-supplied
> context formats or change texmf.cnf, the old formats will be found  
> first
> by kpathsea.

OK, then one step would be: find the old .fmt files and delete them.
> The strangest ones are the ~/.texmf-var ones, where
> fmtutil and updmap dump their stuff. They are documented in
>   /usr/local/teTeX/share/texmf/web2c/texmf.cnf
OK, will RTFM. One final thought: I remember reading an article (by  
Siep? in MAPS?) that having more than one texmf.cnf wasn't too  
difficult. Would that be an option I should try? Having one which  
just lets all the defaults provided by the distribution and one (set  
via an environment variable) which will put TEXMLOCAL before anything  

Thanks, and best


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