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When researching this, I found this answer which led me to try tlmgr option repository. This worked and returned Default package repository (repository): https://mirror.ctan.org/systems/texlive/tlnet. At that url, under archive, is a vast list of zip-files for many packages.

With this question here, I just wanted to confirm that that is where tlmgr installs new packages from when I do tlmgr install <some-package>.

I feel like this question is not worth a post on here, but I really couldn't think of any other place to ask. If you have a suggestion where else I could have asked this, please leave a comment.

Edit: Also, I'm curious about what happens when someone uses an old version of TeX Live, say TL2021, and wants to install a package. Does this download the same package it would when using TL2023? If so, couldn't this lead to problems when that installed package depends on other packages which are already installed in their 2021 version, which might not yet provide the functionality that the newly installed package needs from them.

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  • Looks about right, yes. You can configure other sources though (for instance, you could configure a specific CTAN-mirror, or you could first rsync CTAN on a local drive and use that as sources).
    – Skillmon
    Aug 28, 2023 at 8:35
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    "If so, couldn't this lead to problems when that installed package depends on other packages which are already installed in their 2021 version, which might not yet provide the functionality that the newly installed package needs from them." Texlive won't let you update from a newer repository, but this can also happen within the same year - and that's why it is a bad idea to update only individual packages. I'd always use tlmg update -all to get a consistent installation. Aug 28, 2023 at 8:58
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    @MarcMiller It is possible, but you need to select an historic mirror which matches your texlive version. Aug 28, 2023 at 9:17
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    As far as I know the data in CTAN is in some kind of subversion like repository. The revision is the subversion number. It is not related to the package versions as that data is fully author defined and thus might not be reliable.
    – daleif
    Aug 28, 2023 at 9:31

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Yes, the repository setting defines where all files are downloaded from. Including the initial .tlpdb download and the checksum files.

In case you have multiple repositories defined, packages will be by default downloaded from the repository tagged as main, and only packages that are explicitly pinned to other repositories will be downloaded from there.

tlmgr does not do any other requests or sending tracking information.

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  • Great, thank you for clarifying this. Oct 15, 2023 at 14:47

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