I knew in advance that the output of
pdflatex and so on, depends on the version of that given program. This, of course, makes a lot of sense. Until now, I have not given it a lot of thought because I suspect that the difference in how the output looks does not change that much from version to version. But, lately I am in a situation where it does matters and I am faced with the question:
On what does the output depend?
I feel that it must necessarily depend on the version of the program, let's say
pdflatex from now on since this is the one I use in this case. But what about the choice of distribution, that is, TeX Live versus MacTeX versus MiKTeX versus any other possibility, and what about the version of that distribution. Does the output depend on these factors?
Obviously the output might depend on the version of a package I am using, and the packages I install myself (in
~/texmf) I can easily keep track of the version on. Most of the files loaded by
pdflatex though (I have realised that there are a lot) must depend in some way of factors as the ones mentioned above.
When I look at my log files, they have have a header like
This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.3-1.40.12 (MiKTeX 2.9) (preloaded format=pdflatex 2013.4.4) 13 MAY 2014 13:59
This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-1.40.11 (TeX Live 2010/Arch Linux) (format=pdflatex 2011.4.11) 17 DEC 2013 01:28
How do I decipher these headers?
There are several number systems in work here, as far as I can see, and as I said, I do not know which ones the output depend on.
In the specific case that I am in, we are three people who need to compile the document, but one uses Windows and the other two uses Linux.
Is it even possible to ensure that two persons produce the same output?
The answer to this question is of course yes if the two persons both use Linux, because then a portable TeX Live installation would do that (I believe), but is always possible, that is the question.