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1. Introduction

This manual corresponds to version 7.3.2x of Web2c, released in April 2000.

Web2c is the name of a TeX implementation, originally for Unix, but now also running under DOS, Amiga, and other operating systems. By TeX implementation, we mean all of the standard programs developed by the Stanford TeX project directed by Donald E. Knuth: Metafont, DVItype, GFtoDVI, BibTeX, Tangle, etc., as well as TeX itself. Other programs are also included: DVIcopy, written by Peter Breitenlohner, MetaPost and its utilities (derived from Metafont), by John Hobby, etc.

General strategy: Web2c works, as its name implies, by translating the WEB source in which TeX is written into C source code. Its output is not self-contained, however; it makes extensive use of many macros and functions in a library (the `web2c/lib' directory in the sources). Therefore, it will not work without change on an arbitrary WEB program.

Availability: All of Web2c is freely available---"free" both in the sense of no cost (free ice cream) and of having the source code to modify and/or redistribute (free speech). (See section `unixtex.ftp' in Kpathsea, for the practical details of how to obtain Web2c.) Different parts of the Web2c distribution have different licensing terms, however, reflecting the different circumstances of their creation; consult each source file for exact details. The main practical implication for redistributors of Web2c is that the executables are covered by the GNU Public License, and therefore anyone who gets a binary distribution must also get the sources, as explained by the terms of the GPL (see section `Copying' in Kpathsea). The GPL covers the Web2c executables, including tex, because the Free Software Foundation sponsored the initial development of the Kpathsea library that Web2c uses. The basic source files from Stanford, however, have their own copyright terms or are in the public domain, and are not covered by the GPL.

History: Tomas Rokicki originated the TeX-to-C system in 1987, working from the first change files for TeX under Unix, which were done primarily by Howard Trickey and Pavel Curtis. Tim Morgan then took over development and maintenance for a number of years; the name changed to Web-to-C somewhere in there. In 1990, Karl Berry became the maintainer. He made many changes to the original sources, and started using the shorter name Web2c. In 1997, Olaf Weber took over. Dozens of other people have contributed; their names are listed in the `ChangeLog' files.

Other acknowledgements: The University of Massachusetts at Boston (particularly Rick Martin and Bob Morris) has provided computers and ftp access to me for many years. Richard Stallman at the Free Software Foundation employed me while I wrote the original path searching library (for the GNU font utilities). (rms also gave us Emacs, GDB, and GCC, without which I cannot imagine developing Web2c.) And, of course, TeX would not exist in the first place without Donald E. Knuth.

Further reading: See section B. References.

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