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In Leslie Lamport's book, he refers to the local guide. I know the book's old, but Oetiker references it as well in the Not so short guide to LaTeX 2016 edition:

Each LATEX installation should provide a so-called LATEX Local Guide,
which explains the things that are special to the local system. It
should be contained in a file called local.tex. Unfortunately,
some lazy sysops do not provide such a document. In this case,
go and ask your local LATEX guru for help.

Y'all are the closest thing I know of to LaTeX gurus, so I appreciate your help. Does anyone know of where to find a working version of local.tex or better yet, a dvi or pdf version on Mac (I'm using TexLive 2017)?

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    Did you install MacTeX yourself? Then you are the sysop who is supposed to write local.tex explaining the features specific to the installation on your machine. – cfr Sep 25 '17 at 4:28
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    Please don't add random tags to posts - read the descriptions if you aren't sure what applies. latex3 certainly doesn't. – cfr Sep 25 '17 at 4:30
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    These 'local guide' comments are from an era where each installation would be on a mainframe and customised (at the binary level) by the system administrator. Nowadays this isn't the case at all. – Joseph Wright Sep 25 '17 at 5:59
  • Is the beginner document provided with MacTeX not good enough? – Thruston Sep 25 '17 at 7:38
  • Or the MacTeX wiki - starting points? – Thruston Sep 25 '17 at 7:39
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After a bit of further research, it would appear that the comments on the question are reasonably accurate. The local guide appears to be part of a bygone era. What few documents can be found online are specific to the system they reside on. None of the historical base packages contain the source for the guide. However, I did find the original 1988 document referred to in the Rochester local guide through a search that turned up a French TeX history page that appears to be on its last legs, reminding me of how fragile our archival systems are, even today. This local guide by Lamport himself is available here in pdf form. Some text in the original document led me to a successful search for the LaTeX source which is currently available here at UIC. The miscfiles directory has local.tex's dependencies.

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