[Tex/LaTex] Why can’t TeX Live’s size be reduced


I understand that the following question has been answered

Why is the MacTeX distribution so large? Is there anything smaller for OS X?

but my question differs from it. I just installed MacTeX and it used over 4 gigabytes of space on my computer. I understand the full LaTeX uses many, many libraries, but this is as big or bigger than an operating system. So my question is:

Why can't the developers of TeX Live create it so it has very low overhead?

Details would be really appreciated.

I can only imagine the possibilities such as including it in web browsers and other applications/plugins (keynote, powerpoint, etc.).

Best Answer

As you can see from

$ du -sch /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/* | sort -hr

3,8G    insgesamt
1,5G    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/doc
1,4G    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/fonts
726M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/source
218M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/tex
22M     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/tex4ht
16M     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/bibtex
11M     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/scripts
6,6M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/dvips
3,9M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/metapost
2,1M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/omega
1,9M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/ls-R
1008K   /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/context
444K    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/metafont
308K    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/makeindex
256K    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/pbibtex
48K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/texdoctk
36K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/mft
20K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/texdoc
12K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/web2c

the major part is documentation and fonts. If you are satisfied with a single font and without documentation, the distribution can be much smaller. There were several attempts to create such a minimalistic distribution, but I'm not sure if they are still available (edit: I just rediscovered one: grailtex).

And as daleif stated in his comment, you can install a much smaller TeX Live as well.

As real overhead, maybe the source directory counts, which is also quite large. It consists of sources of most of the stuff in the other directories such as LaTeX packages etc. But this is rather a political than a technical question, therefore I leave it to the TeX Live people to answer it (IIRC they already answered it, maybe on the TeX Live mailing list).