I am using upstream's TeX Live on a GNU/Linux system with default paths except for the use of symbolic links to facilitate switching between different versions of TL. So, for example, TEXMFMAIN is
/usr/local/texlive/2015/texmf-dist, TEXMFLOCAL is
/usr/local/texlive/texmf-local and TEXMFHOME is
~/texmf. All quite standard, I think.
I use a 'dummy' package to convince my distro's package manager that TeX Live is installed and that dependencies are fulfilled when I ask it to install an editor, for example.
This all works fine.
However, this does not work for additional software which installs files into a TEXMF tree but which are managed by my distro's package manager. I'm thinking of things like
gnuplot. In these cases, the TeX files are secondary, of course: the primary point of the software is not TeX, but the TeX files are required for integration.
These files are installed in
/usr/share/texmf but my TeX installation does not, of course, know anything about this TEXMF tree. There is no database of files here and the tree is not in the path searched by kpathsea.
Obviously, there are different ways of working around this kind of issue. You could create symbolic links to the files from a working directory, from appropriate places in TEXMFHOME or from TEXMFLOCAL. But these are not altogether satisfactory since an update to
gnuplot might change the available files, breaking symbolic links or rendering linkage incomplete.
So I guess that it might be better to add an additional TEXMF tree. However, I am not sure if there are drawbacks to doing this, or how best exactly to do it. It would certainly be better if I did not need to create a database of files there. So, if this is the way to go, I suspect I should set the additional tree to be searched on disk. (Since there are only ever likely to be a handful of files here, I can't imagine this being a problem.)
Or perhaps it would be better to manipulate TEXINPUTS. I'm not sure what the relative advantages or disadvantages of this method would be.
What is the best way to integrate files from
/usr/share/texmf so that they can be used by my TeX Live installation seamlessly without any nasty surprises?