[NTG-pdftex] [tex-live] Debian TeX -- new packages

Frank Küster frank at debian.org
Fri Mar 30 17:40:14 CEST 2007

Taco Hoekwater <taco at elvenkind.com> wrote:

> If I understand that thread correctly, the use of poppler instead
> of xpdf is now really a requirement on both debian and ubuntu?

Err, no.  The precompiled binary packages use libpoppler.  That doesn't
mean you can't compile your own pdftex, or even download the Debian
sources, disable the poppler patch and build your own Debian package.
And, in particular, it doesn't say anything about the TeXLive images on
tug.org/CTAN:  They do not use poppler.

> And you cannot share the binary packages between the various linuxes
> because there are packaging differences that cannot be resolved,
> at all?

This is true (for the debs), but it's a very usual thing on a Linux
system, that's why we have distinct releases (and much less of a DLL
hell as some other OSses are said to have).

> And that there are different versions of (dynamic) libpoppler that
> are mutually exclusive, even at compile-time?

Yes, and even that is very common - that's what usually is indicated by
a soname change of a library.  We (Debian/Ubuntu) have made the switch
to poppler very early in its development, and this means that we're
likely to face a couple of soname changes.  Maybe later the API will
become more stable.

> But at the same time, static binaries with xpdf linked in are not
> usable or 'not done' for some reason?

They are of course perfectly usable, and they are available in the
tug.org/CTAN images.  We just don't provide any as debs, because our
security team isn't able to handle all the instances of xpdf code in
multiple versions which are embedded in o-so-many project's source.

> If this is a sign of things to come, I may have to reconsider
> switching to MacOSX or freebsd.

There is nothing special to poppler about this situation.  The same is
also true, and has been true for ages, with libpng, libjpeg, libstdc++
etc., against which pdftex is linked, as soon as it is dynamically

There's also nothing special to pdftex about it, it's the same for any
other program that links dynamically.  And I think it is common that
Linux distributions link dynamically, and there are good reasons for
it.  These reasons are probably stronger for programs you just use in
bypassing, and much less strong for those where you are involved in

If you don't like it, you're free to just not use the distribution's
TeXLive packages, but install it from the images on tug.org/CTAN.  You
can do that for any OS

Regards, Frank
Dr. Frank Küster
Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Protein Folding @ Inst. f. Biochemie, Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer (teTeX/TeXLive)

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