A further little trick with tlmgr: Trouble downloading and unzipping

Went to install some LaTeX packages I needed and typed this at the command line:

$ tlmgr install comment

which gave

[1/1, ??:??/??:??] install: comment [248k]
Useless content call in void context at /usr/share/perl5/LWP/Protocol/ftp.pm line 379.
TLDownload::get_file: response error: 400 FTP return code 000 (for ftp://tug.org/historic/systems/texlive/2015/tlnet-final/archive/comment.tar.xz)
TLUtils::download_file: persistent connection ok, but download failed: ftp://tug.org/historic/systems/texlive/2015/tlnet-final/archive/comment.tar.xz
TLUtils::download_file: retrying with wget.

TLUtils::download_file: retry with wget failed: ftp://tug.org/historic/systems/texlive/2015/tlnet-final/archive/comment.tar.xz
did not succeed, please retry.
TLPDB::_install_package: couldn't unpack ftp://tug.org/historic/systems/texlive/2015/tlnet-final/archive/comment.tar.xz to /home/username/installs/texlive/2015/texmf-dist
tlmgr: package log updated: /home/username/installs/texlive/2015/texmf-var/web2c/tlmgr.log


This is ungood. I had already made sure I was using the correct repository, so I knew it was not that. But tlmgr has a switch to force it to use a new connection to the server, rather than trying to reuse a ‘persistent’ one. If the persistent one fails it falls back on wget, which is what the error message above sort of says; what it does not make clear is that the download still failed for some reason.

It is possible to force tlmgr to make a fresh connection each time, and this will work on a wider variety of routers, wifi networks and the like:

$ tlmgr --no-persistent-downloads install chemfig

And this worked a treat. The option can be set in the config file.

$ tlmgr conf tlmgr

shows which configuration file tlmgr is using. It may not exist yet.


$ tlmgr conf tlmgr persistent-downloads 0

has the result of setting non-persistent as the default behaviour, but the documentation is flaky (it says you need an equals sign in there, but that seems to mess it up).

If you then rerun

$ tlmgr conf tlmgr

you’ll see that the configuration value indeed seems to have been inserted into some configuration path somewhere. When I installed a package it worked without the command line flag.


Nothing else.


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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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