I was wondering why do we need different package managers in TeXLive and MiKTex?

Would it not be better and less work for both authors if there was a common approach and even other persons taking care of the package management?

(My tags maybe are not correct.)

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    Remember that at least some of the packages in both cases are the binaries themselves. So those at least have to be separate. – Joseph Wright Aug 2 '12 at 16:32
  • @JosephWright Agreed, but my question is excluding those software program items which will be OS and architecture dependant. [Maybe this should be a general community discussion and not a question that seeks for an answer?] – Louis Aug 7 '12 at 21:45
  • The TeX-sx model does not work for discussion: it's focussed on Q&A, and does not have things like threading which is needed for a discussion. Moreover, how packaging is done is down to the implementers, and I'm not sure we'd get their input. – Joseph Wright Aug 8 '12 at 7:08

MiKTeX is an implementation of TeX and related programs for Windows (according to miktex.org). Therefore its main goal is integration of TeX and related programs, including its package manager, into Windows operating system.

TeXLive is designed to be a cross platform distribution. Its package manager must work in a number of operating systems, and must integrate to some extent with all of them.

The goals of both distributions are somewhat different, which explains why their authors decided to take their own approach to variety of problems, including package management. While it is possible that both distributions, or at least their package managers, will converge together in the future, it is not necessary for that to happen, and it is not even clear to me that it would be a desirable thing to happen. It may reduce work, on the other hand, it would reduce users options, and possibly lead to a slowdown in innovation.

Also, while implementing such common package manager may reduce work in the long run, it would certainly increase the amount of work significantly in a short run.

A good read for different aspects of these distributions: What are the advantages of TeX Live over MiKTeX?

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  • I fail to see why it would reduce users options and slowdown innovation. For instance a common package manager that will work across platforms will reduce the need to do at least two updates if you use MiKTeX on Windows and TeXLive on Linux. If a common package management method and specification are used there would not be a need for multiple (and partially duplicate) repositories. – Louis Aug 2 '12 at 15:40
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    Then why don't you just use TeXLive on both Windows and Linux? That would give you the same package manager, and as a user, you can just pretend MikTeX does not exist. However, I think there is probably a reason number of people choose MikTeX when using Windows. – Jan Hlavacek Aug 2 '12 at 22:08
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    @JanHlavacek MikTeX predates TeXLive for a number of years and the idea of using a package manager with precooked and prepackaged macros, fonts and whatnot originates with it. There is also WinEdt, not the first dedicated LaTeX IDE out there but certainly the first for MS Windows (the first one was Alpha as far as I recall). As you correctly point out there comes the idea of a cross-platform package manager with format-agnostic packages, which CAB is not! Else, we old UNIX hands (and Linux sucklings :-) would still be using TeTeX, NTeX or compiling web2c by hand for fun and profit. – palopezv Aug 3 '12 at 0:11
  • @vorbote One could add TeXClipse and seek more and more similar items. I am trying to say like a programmer currently have to accept, but still may ask: "Why must my libraries come from the same place as my compiler?" – Louis Aug 7 '12 at 21:49

Miktex had its package manager and the possibility to automatically install new packages long before Texlive had similar features. It was even developed a Miktex version for Linux.

The question may be why the developers of Texlive did not used Miktex package manager instead of developing a new, slightly different one. May be different view, different goals, etc.

Both packages are free, and we can choose which one to use without that costing us a cent. I just suggest that we say thank you both to the developer of Miktex and to the developers of Texlive for providing us with such excellent applications.

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  • While I pick up a faint hint that I am considered not being grateful, let me state that is not the case. It also seem that some may think that I attack the one or the other, that is also not the case. On Linux I would prefer not to use either, just to make it clear. I once analysed the packages of both and found few differences. Its still something of a locked in situation: if you have both on one machine you then will have to do twice an update if any package gets updated. If there were a common package manager, that would not be necessary. It should be also beyond os or distro. – Louis Aug 7 '12 at 16:05
  • @Louis Then you misunderstood my reply. If there is such a hint, it is not intended and in case caused by the fact that English is not my first language. – Sveinung Aug 7 '12 at 16:19
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    @Louis My general advice to people who wants to choose is this: Pick one at random if you start swearing each time something goes wrong and takes a lot of time to fix something, then the other is the right one for you. Experience shows that this is more or less a robust scheme. I went with MikTeX on Windows and don't even think about TeXLive and all the refrigeration, freezing, vanillas chocolates etc. it might be quite the opposite for you. So just go with the flow :) – percusse Aug 8 '12 at 23:42
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    @Louis I'm not sure I follow on the 'if there was one package system, one would have to update only once' point. Each TeX installation is independent, quite apart from how the packages are provided, thus allowing parallel use of MiKTeX and TeX Live, different TeX Live versions, etc.. Having the packaged material only in one format would not alter this. – Joseph Wright Aug 9 '12 at 7:42
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    @JosephWright I currently keep a local copy of the package repository on my Linux server, because I use LaTeX on different machines: Laptop, desktop, etc. to already avoid multiple updates over the internet as I pay for bandwidth. So if I use MiKTeX for Windows and TeXLive for Linux it means twice updating, but without the local repository it would mean twice per machine. MiKTeX and TeXLive both should follow the TDS the only difference comes in with packaging off CTAN and then local management. TeXLive also has these so called sets. – Louis Aug 9 '12 at 8:20

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