TeX distribution TeX Live 2008 released
TeX Live is the most comprehensive distribution of the open source typesetting system and includes almost all packages currently available for TeX and the LaTeX and ConTeXt macro languages based on it, as well as the Metafont, MetaPost and BibTeX applications and a large number of fonts.
Since support for teTeX was halted in May 2006, TeX Live has become the standard distribution for all Unix-like systems. Windows is supported but only Windows 2000 or later. TeX Live can be run either from a hard drive or directly from the DVD, hence the "live" name. A port for Mac OS X (MacTeX 2008) is due to be released this September.
Changes, introduced by TeX developer Donald E. Knuth up to the start of this year have been included in the distribution. Another new feature is TeX Live Manager, where users can, as in the MiKTeX TeX distribution, update all packages using either a GUI or command line – the absence of this feature has pained users in previous releases. TeX Live Manager is also used to configure the distribution. In future, the TUG also plans to make new packages and updates available at the same time as they are released on CTAN, allowing Linux users to keep their TeX systems up to date without waiting for updates from their Linux distributor.
LuaTeX, the designated successor to the pdfTeX PDF generator, is controlled using the scripting language Lua, but is currently still at the development stage. LuaTeX, like the still included pdfTeX extension XeTeX, uses OpenType fonts. In contrast to pure pdfTeX, both packages also work entirely in Unicode. Even hyphenation patterns have been converted to Unicode to achieve this. Supplementing this the Xindy index processor, which is also able to process non-ASCII characters, and is now available for all platforms except Windows.
All the distribution's scripts run on Windows using a customised Perl distribution, as most Microsoft systems have no native Perl support. This means that support for Tex under Windows is now almost as good as under Unix. The project mailing list does, however, include discussion of problems displaying the online help textdoc under Windows Vista using Adobe Reader 9. These problems do not appear to occur with other PDF readers and a solution is expected shortly.
(Dr. Jürgen Fenn)