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Upcoming change to TeX Live on Cygwin

This is a followup to, in which I said that I was thinking of shipping a restricted version of the tlmgr (TeX Live Manager) script in a future TeX Live release. I expect to have that ready as a test release within a few weeks. Since Yaakov expressed some misgivings about this, I'm writing to give more details and solicit comments.

tlmgr allows a user to manage a TeX Live installation, both packages[1] and configuration options. It operates in two modes: "system mode" (the default) and "user mode". Some of the actions operate on the system directories and are not available in user mode. But installing/removing/updating packages is allowed in user mode, with everything taking place in the user's home directory.

I have not previously shipped tlmgr for Cygwin because its package-management features would interfere with Cygwin's setup-*.exe package management. But I would like to start shipping a restricted version. Debian has done this for several years.

Debian's version runs only in user mode. That's slightly more restricted than what I would like to do. For example, one of the system-mode actions is to manage default paper size (letter or a4) for TeX Live programs, and I would like to allow that.

I am in the process of discussing this with Norbert Preining[2], starting at We have arrived at an agreement as to how to modify tlmgr to do what I want. (The modification may or may not make it into upstream TeX Live, but Norbert has indicated that he might use it in Debian.)

I would be glad to provide more details if Yaakov or anyone else still has concerns about this. Otherwise, I will go ahead and prepare a test release so that interested users can try it out.


[1] "Package" here is used in the sense of upstream TeX Live. There are about 2500 packages, which are organized into "collections". Cygwin only ships complete collections. For example, there is currently no supported way for a Cygwin user to install the 2up package without installing the entire latexextra collection.

[2] Norbert is one of the lead TeX Live developers. He is the author of tlmgr and is also Debian's TeX Live maintainer.

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