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< New ConTeXt Minimals (Implementation) >



The New Minimals are an attempt to provide the same functionalities as Pragma's minimal zip distributions. As of today (2007-11-01), they are hosted on the server (the same one as this wiki).

They are, right now, in a very early experimental beta stage. Everyone is invited to test this distribution, but is kindly asked for patience and understanding until we tidy up the details.

Below is a manifest of the goals of the project, and the way we want to achieve them.

We wanted to provide:

  • an easy to (no-need-to-)install ConTeXt distribution
  • a fast and convenient way to update ConTeXt and binaries to the latest version (no need to fetch 100 MB when only minimal modifications have been made in the distribution)
  • a reference ConTeXt distribution
  • an easy way to revert to an older ConTeXt (in case the latest one is broken)
  • probably some combination of rsync and svn will be used, but the exact concept is still not completely clear

We do not plan to provide:

  • LaTeX packages (perhaps the really-basic-latex as an add-on package, but only if someone else has time to investigate what is needed)
  • extensive support for whatever binaries or packages which are otherwise standard in TeX distributions: use TeX Live or MikTeX for that purpose

The minimals (will) contain:

  • ConTeXt
  • Fonts: most important TeX-aware ones
  • pdfTeX, XeTeX, LuaTeX and Metapost (latest version, if possible)
  • formats (need to be generated by user) for
    • ConTeXt, mptopdf and plain TeX for pdfTeX/XeTeX/LuaTeX
    • metafun and plain for Metapost
  • it would be nice to have tex4ht as a package if someone can figure out what is needed to make it work

Supported platforms

  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Linux, 64 bit
  • Mac OS X Intel
  • Mac Os X PPC
  • other platforms on request (please send a mail to the ntg-context mailing list)


Installation is done by the mtx-update.lua which is already part of ConTeXt. If you already have a working installation, you should be able to use it through the generic mtxrun: [actually this is a little lie for the moment; even the most recent mtx-update.lua needs to be updated itself in order for the process to work].

 mtxrun --script update --platform=<your platform> --engine=<a TeX engine> --texroot=<install dir> --update

Platform can be win, linux, linux-64, osx-ppc or osx-intel (default: win); engine can be pdftex, xetex, luatex or all (the default is all and apart from that only one engine at the same time is supported at the moment, sorry). TeX root, obviously, is the location of your installation (the directory where texmf trees like texmf, texmf-local, etc. are to be found).

Most of the task of mtx-update is to run rsync to synchronize your local installation with the repository. It is assumed that Unix users (including Mac OS X) would have an rsync client installed by default on their system; for Windows an rsync binary is provided as part of the initial setup (see next paragraph).

If you don't have an installed ConTeXt distribution, you must download from [2] the appropriate zip archive for your system, and run the shell / batch script in the top-level directory (which should be called context); it is a very simple script that sets the necessary environment to run mtx-update, and it accepts exactly the same switches as mtx-update. By default it will install a ConTeXt distribution suitable for pdfTeX on your system; the top-level directory for that distribution will be context/tex until you tell it otherwise (with the --texroot switch).

The rest of this section is a manifest of how we would like things to work (most of it is already done!)

This is a description of how the first installation and any subsequent updates should work (or how it would be nice if they worked that way):

One should be able to download (approx. 2MB) which would download all the other things (selected engines, fonts, modules, ...) on demand. It should contain:

  • some really basic documentation (README, INSTALL)
  • setup script
  • texmf-[os]/bin/luatex + texlua symbolic link
  • ... [finishme]

We need to:

  • create files README INSTALL
  • create a file context-minimals-seetings.lua (or some other self-explanatory name):
      • rsync location (default: rsync://, could be anything)
      •  ??? installation location (default is simply the current location (pwd))
      • engines (default: all - pdftex, xetex, luatex, metapost)
      • formats (default: english + dutch context for all the installed engines, metapost, metafun; optional: other interfaces, plain pdftex, xetex)
      • fonts (need to be reorganized/improved anyway, perhaps a list of fonts should be fetched)
      • once in the future: supported font encodings for pdftex (default: texnansi, ec, optional: greek, t5, t2a, t2b, t2c, ...)
      • third party modules (list needs to be fetched form the garden, default)
      • context version (default: current, other options: beta, highly-experimental (for "Hans-and-Taco-only"), specific-date in the case of a fixed version issue a warning at next update)
      • interactive flag: shoud the script ask for changes interactively again or should it simply reaspect & use them (defaut: interactive for the first time, after that automatic)
  • create a file first-setup(.sh, .bat) (or with some other self-explanatory name), which:
    • checks if rsync exists (if not, an error is issued, saying please install rsync first)
    • checks for perl and ruby and issues a similar error/warning (in fact, we can still proceed to the next step and download things even if perl & ruby are not installed, but that doesn't make much sense)
    • detects the platform (straightforward for windows, for unix-like platforms the same kind of detection is used as later in setuptex)
    • does rsync to installation files themselves (in case mtx-update has changed in the mean time)
    • reads in context-minimals-seetings.lua (which engines, formats, fonts, modules to download ...) if interactive is set to true, ask for default settings again, otherwise respect those settings and continue
    • asks for installation location
    • creates (or updates) the file with settings (if interactive)
    • fetch files with rsync
    • create formats
    • suggest what to put into .bash_profile (or equivalent locations) to have context initilized automatically


Binaries are mostly taken from TeX Live 2007, but new ones are used whenever available.

Origin of the binaries

  • TeX Live 2007 for most binaries and most platforms
  • Akira's W32TeX for windows binaries (including metapost, LuaTeX, pdfTeX and XeTeX) - automatic
  • for pdfTeX, XeTeX, LuaTeX and metapost for other platforms added manually whenever possible (nice if it could be automated, but no idea how)
  • texmf/scripts/context/stubs from ConTeXt

List of included binaries

Core binaries

We will do our best to keep them as up to date as possible. If they're still not up to date for your platform and you know where to find them, please notify us, we will fix that. We might provide XeTeX and LuaTeX in separate packages (on TODO list).

  • pdftex
  • luatex
  • texlua, texluac (only symlinks on "unix" platforms, in Akira's distribution luatex.dll is used + 3 small executables)
  • xetex, xdvipdfmx
  • metapost
    • dvitomp
    • makempx
    • mpost
    • mpto (can this be replaced by ConTeXt's variant in future?)

Other binaries

  • kpathsea
    • kpseaccess
    • kpsestat
    • kpsewhich
  • different tools
    • bibtex
    • dvipos
    • mktexlsr
    • pdftosrc

Stubs & other ConTeXt-related

  • everything from texmf/scripts/context/stubs
  • luatools, mtxrun
  • texmfstart (take the latest version by Hans automatically: doesn't happen yet)


Might be removed or moved to a special category of "font-related binaries", and only available as an additional package.

  • only left for testing
    • afm2pl
    • afm2tfm
    • ttf2afm
  • Knuth's
    • pltotf
    • tftopl
    • vftovp
    • vptovf


  • dvipdfmx
  • dvips


Additional standard tools, such as unzip etc. TODO.


There's a plan to provide three versions:

  • stable
  • beta
  • broken (for Hans, Taco and nerds only)

And a plan to provide possibility to revert back to an older stable version. TODO.


Fonts are split in three packages:

  • used in both pdfTeX and XeTeX/LuaTeX: mostly math (pfb, map, enc, tfm)
  • used in pdfTeX only: pfb, map, enc, tfm (those that are not present in "common")
  • used in XeTeX/LuaTeX only: otf

Currently we have (the latest version, in sync with CTAN):

  • Latin Modern
  • Antykwa Torunska
  • Iwona & Kurier
  • TeX Gyre
  • ams

Other fonts to be added:

  • TODO

It is possible that we'll provide a really minimal package with LM only, and additional three packages (common, for new TeX, for old TeX) with all the other fonts.

Third-party modules & Other

  • TODO
  • also cont-* from Hans's page




See the implementation page.

Hans's requests

  • upload rsync binaries from Delta (minimals/rsync/windows)
  • reorganize fonts into fonts/data/e-foundry/texgyre/<everything>
  • list directory contents
  • list of files to fetch an old ConTeXt version

Who are “we”?

Ein Teil von jener Kraft, / Die stets das Böse will, und stets das Gute schafft. :-)