TeX Live news: 2013 frozen, 2014 pretest, 2014 Debian

A few days ago was the last time we updated tlnet for TeX Live 2013 on CTAN. That means, from now on in the following two to three months there will be no update of tlnet. Development of course continues – if not at a more frantic level than normal.


In this post I want to summarize the current stage, both concerning TeX Live itself, as well as my recent work on getting TeX Live 2014 into Debian.

TeX Live 2013 frozen

As with all the previous years, we have to stop the daily updates of tlnet. Often questioned, often complained, due to our limited man power we cannot afford to have double subversion archives, double CTAN pulls, double distribution work. We understand that those on the freaking edge might be disappointed not to get the latest greatest version of each and every package the day it was released, but for those I recommend using tlpretest (see below) anyway. For the rest, i.e., all those that just do regular work I predict that the consequences are less dire than expected.

In addition, it might be a good idea for those who want to keep some TeX Live 2013 tlnet archive around even after TL 2014 is released, it might be a good idea to sync (rsync, wget) a copy of tlnet to a local backup media. As soon (although not very soon) as we released 2014, the tlnet of 2013 will be lost forever.

TeX Live 2014 testing

Again, as usual, testing of the new TeX Live 2014 has already started. Most of the binaries are already updated, but there are still a few items to clean up. Details can be found on our dedicated tlpretest page. In principle you are supposed to get an installer from one of the tlpretest mirrors as listed on the pretest page, and make a new installation of TeX Live.

Warning: Expect breakage from time to time, as well as necessity to reinstall. So in short, do keep a copy of TL 2013 around somewhere.

News for TeX Live 2014

The pretest page also lists some news items (Knuth’s tune up for 2014, new enhancements in the pdftex, luatex, xetex, mpost engines), but nothing spectacular at the moment. I also do not have any new feature for tlmgr in the hide, so it seems to become a rather peaceful new release.

TeX Live 2014 for Debian

In spite of my pessimistic blog entry on the End of TeX Live in Debian, I am of course still working on Debian/TeX Live. As mentioned a few times here, the biggest problem at the moment is that Debian is still running around with a prehistoric (but at least still maintained!) version of libpng (1.2!), while current TeX Live sources require libpng 1.4 or 1.5 upwards.

In addition, mixing of static compiled libpng 1.6 with indirect references to libpng 1.2 via the many other libraries (cairo, harfbuzz, …) does not work. That leaves us in the hands of the libpng maintainers who seem not to be too interested in pushing libpng 1.6 as default into Debian/unstable, see this bug.

As a start I have rebuild the whole stack of necessary packages for building texlive-bin with libpng16-dev from Debian/experimental. This means, rebuilding the following packages with libpng16-dev instead of libpng(12)-dev: freetype, libgd2, jbig2dec, cups, cairo, ghostscript. I could upload all of them directly to Debian/experimental, but that is not the way it works, so for now I keep local copies, which are available at

deb http://people.debian.org/~preining/TeX/ 2014/
deb-src http://people.debian.org/~preining/TeX/ 2014/

together with a first build of the texlive binaries. Updates packages for texlive-base/lang/extra will be build from the first tlpretest archive. I will try to keep these packages up-to-date, and if there is a move forward from the libpng maintainers to transition libpng16 into unstable, I will pester the maintainers of these packages with patches for libpng16 support.

In emergency cases there is nothing left to do but statically link all libraries again, something that is not very much appreciated in Debian.


Lots of changes ahead – now I only need a bit more time. In this sense, those who often complain, it is time to step up and provide a hand – send email to the Debian TeX mailing list and we are happy to give pointers on what to do.

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