[tex-k] note from Don Knuth

Maggie McLoughlin mam at theory.Stanford.EDU
Mon Nov 26 07:37:53 CET 2007

Dear TeX-Kers,

I recently purchased a new (standalone) computer on which to keep my
"family jewels," and I hope it will be my book-writing partner for the next
ten years or so.

I installed ubuntu 7.10 and added the texlive-full package (more than
a gigabyte worth!), and the installation went smoothly. Most of the install
time, by far, seemed to be consumed by "udpmap", a program that I can't
recall ever using; but I suppose it has a lot of work to do and redo,
considering all of the languages supported.

You folks have done an admirable job, bringing order out of chaos with so
many helpers participating from so many cultures.

I write today only to register a complaint about a comment that I happened
to notice in a file called language.dat (or something like that). The
comment, which has probably existed for a long time, states essentially
that the frozen hyphen.tex must remain as the first language pattern
because DEK doesn't want to be surprised when he is typesetting TAOCP.

That comment is true but very misleading. If you don't change it, somebody
will think that after my death there will no longer by any reason to stick
with the original hyphen.tex as a default, so they will change it.

No, no, no. The reason is that DEK has promised thousands of people that
THEIR books and papers and other documents will still be typeset the same
in the year 2100 as they were in the year 2000, if they are done with the
frozen parts of TeX (plain TeX).

There will NEVER be a good reason to change the default hyphen.tex file, or
any other aspect of plain TeX that can cause different page or line breaks
to occur.

Please change to comment to something consistent with archival wisdom.

Sincerely, Don

P.S. A couple of minor glitches in other comments: (1) There's a small change
near the beginning of the file config.ps, if one compares the versions
of that file in /etc/texmf/dvips/config/ and in /usr/share/texlive-bin/.
The longer version, which I think is in /etc/texmf/dvips/config/, is better.
(2) The nonword "extenions" can be found in a comment of the master file

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