This is a follow on to my question from from last year about Why does TeX Live "require" yearly updates?. TeX Live is again in the freeze period and no new packages or updates will be available for the next few months. In general, I am not interested in rebuilding binaries (although I think biber is probably an exception) and I am not worried about updates to fonts. If I switch to the TeX Live pretest, I think I will get package updates, but I will then be susceptible to bugs in the binary builds and changes to the TeX Live package format. Another option would be to pull packages from CTAN and install them directly, but I am not aware of an automated way to do this (and in some ways isn't this what TeX Live is for). What is the easiest way to continue to get updates and new packages while TeX Live is frozen while minimizing the risk of breaking things?

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    Switch to windows and miktex during the freezing period? – Ulrike Fischer Apr 29 '14 at 9:58
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    @UlrikeFischer This is more tedious than struggling with temporary TL-pretest deficiencies. – AlexG Apr 29 '14 at 11:18
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    Is there any pressing need to update? I think this is the prime question. We are not talking about security fixes etc. If you are living that much on the edge of development to need your daily dose of updates, then tlpretest should also no pose risks to you. – norbert Apr 29 '14 at 23:18

Simpler than installing from CTAN is the following procedure: * download all file *.tar.xz from the tlpretest/archive * try to run tlmgr install --from-file *.tar.xz

That should work in most cases, but has the problem that the doc and source files (in the -doc.tar.xz and -source.tar.xz) are installed as separate packages (AFAIR).

Still you should get updated versions of the packages.

And no, don't do this with binary packages, especially not on Windows (library hell).


The simplest way to go, I think, is to download those packages that exist in the install directory of CTAN. You'll find them under the name: such_package.tds.zip ; they are pre-installed in the sense that you only have to unzip them in texmf-local. Not sure if you have to run texhash afterwards. You may delete when you install the new version of TeX Live.

  • Yes, texhash is required to register packages in texmf-local. – AlexG Apr 29 '14 at 10:15
  • A package update might rely on features only belonging to the next release. This would be, in particular, the case for biber. – egreg Apr 29 '14 at 10:45
  • @egreg: I had in mind ordinary packages. Anyway, doing the way I propose makes it easy and harmless to delete what's been added it it doesn't work fine, I think. – Bernard Apr 29 '14 at 11:20
  • AFAIK, not all packages are available as .tds.zip... – jon Apr 30 '14 at 17:57
  • That's why I wrote those that exist in the install directory. Otherwise it's really far from an automated procedure, as the OP asked for. – Bernard Apr 30 '14 at 19:25

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