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TeX Live and Fedora 🔗

I’ve been using TeX Live on Fedora for years, but today I encountered an odd error when trying to perform the usual sudo tlmgr update package. I tried an Internet search of the error message but it didn’t provide any helpful clues. I finally worked out what had happened and, since it’s possible someone else might stumble on the same thing, I thought it might be useful to post about it in case it helps others.

First a little background information to supply some context. I normally use dnf to install or update software on Fedora, but not when it comes to TeX because I have found in the past that the Linux distros tend to have outdated TeX packages. Instead, I install TeX Live from the DVD (which I automatically receive as a joint member of UK TUG and TUG) as I have an iffy broadband connection, and I also have to update the TeX Live distributions for other family members. It’s easy to slap the DVD in the drive and set the installer going regardless of whether the computer has Linux or Windows. On my own device, I keep the TeX Live installations from the previous couple of years as it’s useful to be able to switch to an older version when trying to investigate a bug that has appeared with a new TeX Live release. (I have a symbolic link /usr/local/texlive/default that points to the release I want to use. All I need to do is change the link to switch to a different release.)

I don’t like automatic updates (it can be confusing if an update occurs without my noticing and causes an unexpected conflict) so I just periodically run sudo tlmgr update --all but today this resulted in an unexpected error. (The message suggests it’s a warning but the process fails.)

*** WARNING ***: Performing this action will likely destroy the Fedora TeXLive install on your system.
*** WARNING ***: This is almost NEVER what you want to do.
*** WARNING ***: Try using dnf install/update instead.
*** WARNING ***: If performing this action is really what you want to do, pass the "ignore-warning" option.
*** WARNING ***: But please do not file any bugs with the OS Vendor.

As is often the case, the problem is obvious in hindsight but it flummoxed me for a while. Why was the TeX Live manager suddenly telling me to use dnf when I’d installed it from the DVD? It had worked fine the last time (not that long ago), so what had changed since then? A few days ago I’d upgraded to Fedora 31.

It turned out that I now have an extra TeX Live installation that I didn’t know about in /usr/share/texlive/ with its own tlmgr in /bin (which is a symbolic link to /usr/bin). To add to the confusion my normal user PATH has /usr/local/texlive/default/bin/x86_64-linux near the start of the list but the /etc/sudoers file had it at the end:

Defaults    secure_path = /sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/local/texlive/default/bin/x86_64-linux

This means that when I use TeX as a normal user it’s picking up the installation from the DVD, but with sudo it’s picking up the other installation, which requires dnf rather than tlmgr to update TeX packages. The question is, how did that other TeX Live installation suddenly appear?

Some years ago I installed texlive-dummy to satisfy dependencies in the event that I had to install software that required a TeX distribution. As far as I can tell, that texlive-dummy RPM no longer exists. My guess is that when I upgraded to Fedora 31, the upgrade process detected the TeX Live dependency, but texlive-dummy had disappeared, so it installed the complete TeX Live distribution instead. For now, I’ve simply edited the /etc/sudoers file so that /usr/local/texlive/default/bin/x86_64-linux is listed first in the path.

Nicola Talbot 2019-11-23 📂 (La)TeX 🔖 Linux TeX Live

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image of dickimaw parrot with cookies in cloudsOnce upon a time, a little parrot decided to migrate across the vast ocean to the cloud lands, with nothing more than a handful of cookies. The Dickimaw Books site has migrated to a new web hosting provider and this is the story of its journey.
Nicola Talbot 2019-09-15 📂 Site 🔖 Migration

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image of dickimaw parrot with cookies in cloudsOnce upon a time, a little parrot decided to migrate across the vast ocean to the cloud lands, with nothing more than a handful of cookies. The Dickimaw Books site has migrated to a new web hosting provider and this is the story of its journey.
Nicola Talbot 2019-09-15 📂 Site 🔖 Migration

Recent Posts

End of Year Ebook Sale
Book coversThe DRM-free ebook retailer SmashWords has their end of year sale from 15th December 2023 to 1st January 2024. My crime novel “The Private Enemy” and children’s illustrated story “The Foolish Hedgehog” both have a 50% discount and my crime fiction short story “I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing” and cybercrime fiction short story “Unsocial Media” both have a 100% discount (i.e. free!) for the duration of the sale. Did you know that you can gift ebooks on SmashWords?
Ebook Sale July 2023
Book coversThe DRM-free ebook retailer SmashWords has a sale from 1st – 31st July 2023. My crime novel “The Private Enemy” and children’s illustrated story “The Foolish Hedgehog” both have a 50% discount and my crime fiction short story “I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing” and cybercrime fiction short story “Unsocial Media” both have a 100% discount (i.e. free!) for the duration of the sale. Did you know that you can gift ebooks on SmashWords?
Bug Bounty Hunters
Image of magnifying glass over a green bug.I was recently informed that dickimaw-books.com had a medium severity reflected cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the version of cPanel this website was using at the time. I solved the problem by moving to a new web-hosting provider that didn’t have the issue. The security researcher used a non-invasive probe. No data was compromised.
Nicola Talbot 2023-05-22 (updated 2023-06-17) 📂 Security Site 🔖 Migration News Online Store
Unsocial Media: a cybercrime short story
Unsocial Media book cover.Greg has unwisely accepted a friend request from “Natalie”, a stranger who starts to stalk him after failing to hook him in a scam but, unknown to either of them, Greg’s wife (the narrator) is quietly investigating Natalie, following the trail from online into the real world.
Hello E-Hedgehog
The Foolish Hedgehog Cover Image.The Foolish Hedgehog is back in print as an ebook. If you’re looking for a short illustrated story for young children to keep them entertained over the holiday, have a read of the preview on SmashWords and buy it while it’s half-price!
Ongoing Email Issues on Website
For some weeks now, the forms on this site, such as the contact page, have been unable to send an email. It seems to be caused by an SSL issue outside of my control. All support channels to the web hosting company used by this site are down, which means I can’t even report the issue, let alone get it fixed.
Nicola Talbot 2022-08-28 (updated 2022-10-08) 📂 Site 🔖 News
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Children’s Illustrated Fiction
Illustrated fiction for young children: The Foolish Hedgehog and Quack, Quack, Quack. Give My Hat Back!
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The art of writing fiction, inspiration and themes.
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The crime fiction category covers the crime novels The Private Enemy and The Fourth Protectorate and also the crime short stories I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing and I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing.
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The speculative fiction category includes the novel The Private Enemy (set in the future), the alternative history novel The Fourth Protectorate, and the fantasy novel Muirgealia.

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Sub-genre of speculative fiction, alternative history is “what if?” fiction.
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I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing
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Alternative history novel set in 1980s/90s London. See the book’s main page for further details.
The Private Enemy
A crime/speculative fiction novel set in a future Norfolk run by gangsters. See the book’s main page for further details.
Unsocial Media
A cybercrime fiction short story (available as an ebook). See the story’s main page for further details.
World Book Day
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