MacTex vs MacPorts

Richard L. Hamilton rlhamil at
Fri Sep 30 21:34:43 PDT 2011

Unless disk space is tight, or theres the potential for path confusion that couldnt be trivially avoided if one had both, I'd ask which had the best record of staying reliable and up-to-date.

And not everyone wants to wait however long it takes for all the TeX stuff and its dependencies to build or even update from source.  Not to mention that since MacPorts seems not always to be fully _tested_ in most reasonable combinations of ports and options (and some ports are outright mutually exclusive, including a few that probably don't have to be), I can see how some folks might just want to do a single download and install of binaries.

Although I think I'd want LyX too somehow, if I were into the whole TeX world that much, unless one of those other GUI apps is something similar but better (I don't recognize most of them).  I mean, way before TeX, I could use troff macros, or even write new macros, if I really wanted to, but mostly I don't want to bother anymore…so probably I'd want a decent GUI editor too.

I imagine that if all the components were in MacPorts, it would be easy enough to have a meta-port that just existed to give single name to cause all the rest to be installed.

On Oct 1, 2011, at 12:03 AM, Sam Kuper wrote:

> Dear all,
> This thread was prompted by another thread I started recently, which
> has since been resolved:
> I installed MacTex a couple of years ago, and although I'm not
> currently using LaTeX for anything, I may want or need to use it again
> in the future.
> MacTex has the advantage that it bundles everything needed for using
> LaTeX on the Mac, including several handy GUI applications (BibDesk,
> LaTeXiT, TeXShop, TeXworks, TeX Live Utility, and Excalibur), and
> provides versions of each of these components that should be
> compatible with each other. (Only two of those six GUI applications,
> incidentally, seem to be available from MacPorts: LaTeXiT and
> TeXShop.)
> However, MacTex has the disadvantage that it sits outside of any more
> general package management system (e.g. MacPorts), which has the
> following ramifications, IIUC:
> (1) it bundles utilities that may already be present on the user's Mac;
> (2) if any of the utilities it bundles *are* present elsewhere on the
> user's Mac, then the user is forced to decide which version to give
> precedence to in the $PATH variable or other settings, and problems
> may arise if other software installed on the Mac expects whichever
> versions of those utilities that have *not* been given precedence in
> the $PATH;
> (3) its components can't be upgraded with a simple package manager
> update/upgrade combo command.
> There may be additional disadvantageous ramifications that aren't
> coming to mind right now.
> I'm trying to work out what the best compromise is. Should I keep
> MacTex and just manage any conflicts with MacPorts as they arise (as
> happened with ImageMagick as described in the thread I linked to
> above)? Or should I ditch MacTex and instead rely upon MacPorts +
> standalone installations of any LaTeX-related applications I might
> like to use (e.g. BibDesk) that would have been included in MacTex,
> but which aren't available from MacPorts?
> This make me wonder more generally whether it mightn't be possible for
> the MacTex and MacPorts teams to combine forces with the aim of making
> MacPorts the distribution system of choice for all the components of
> MacTex (instead of MacTex's one or more giant ZIP files), thereby
> removing the user's dilemma. Has this been discussed? If so, what
> conclusions were reached?
> All advice appreciated. Thanks in advance,
> Sam
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The waitress asked, "Do you want lemon or no lemon with that iced tea?"
Naturally, I said "yes", and then burst out laughing, because there simply
wasn't any other answer in Boolean logic.  She didn't get it, but I got
the lemon, which I wanted anyway.  Later, I realized a quantum computer
could have offered another answer: Schroedinger's Lemon!

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