Making TeX Work

 in
I was looking at this book as an opportunity to learn about all the little gotchas that just aren't made visible except by oral tradition from guru to wanna-be.
3. A Tools Overview

Non-commercial Environments discusses free and shareware TeX systems.

Commercial Environments talks about commercial versions.

TeX on the Macintosh describes utilities that are Mac-specific. I don't know why it seemed necessary to have a separate chapter in order to do this.

TeX Utilities talks about many of the commonly available TeX utilities available on the CTAN archives.

Appendices

Filename Extension Summary describes about 55 different filename extensions you may run across that are related to TeX documents.

Font Samples gives 45 pages of font encoding tables and sample print from many of the METAFONT fonts.

Resources has 30 pages of extremely brief listings regarding how to a variety of TeX-related shells, editors, formats, and utilities.

Long Examples has 45 pages of scripts and other programs that are mentioned elsewhere in the book. The book examples are also available electronically on ftp.uu.net.

Conclusion

Making TeX Work has an incredible amount of information in it that you may someday either need to find or need to know. The problem is whether or not you need to spend $30.00 to find this information.

If you're a System Administrator who wants to cut to the chase regarding which public domain, commercial, or shareware software to acquire for your MS-Windows PC or non-Linux (huh?) Unix system then I'd give it a “maybe”. There's an enormous number of skeletal descriptions of the hundreds of utilities that exist out there on Internet or are available commercially, that the book makes available for you in one nice neat place.

If you're more of a potential TeX user, I'm not so sure that you'd be well served in buying this book. There's enough description of the basic pdnciples that it serves as a good starting point before you go and buy one of the more common TeX or LaTeX books to give you the details regarding the language. On the other hand, if you buy one of the other books you'd have that basic information already.

I suppose if forced to make a recommendation, I'd recommend that a Linux user who was looking to get into the world of TeX save their pennies and:

  • grab a recent copy of Slackware and install the whole T series of kits. Voila! You're most of the way toward having a functional TeX environment.

  • for how to do a single document, grab Matt Welsh's “linuxdoc-sgml” package. Write your document in SGML. Use Matt's package to convert it to LaTeX.

  • for how to write a big multi-part document, grab the sources for one of the larger Linux DOC Project documents (like Olaf Kirch's Network Administration Guide) and use it as an example.

  • to get the list of Linux add-one for TeX document production, use the WorldWideWeb index to the TeX CTAN archives by getting into Mosaic on your local Internet site. See the comp. text . tex Usenet group for the Web URL for the archives.

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