I have been noticing (or may be it's just a feeling?) that many of TeX and friends contributors/enthusiasts are Europeans rather than North Americans despite that fact that the fathers of TeX and LaTeX are from the US. Am I right on this? If so, is this a general trend in the open source/free culture movement? Does it reflect a more socialist inclined societies? What are you opinions on this.

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    it's not just a feeling. i'm sure that if statistics were gathered regarding the location of tex users who are active in tex communities, those outside of north america would be found to outnumber active users in the u.s. and canada. i'd even hazard a guess that native english speakers would be outnumbered by those for whom english is a second (or third or ...) language. if i had to guess at a reason, i think the fact that tex can be tuned in language specific ways for free has a lot to do with this. i suspect there are many u.s. users who are just "silent", so not counted. Commented May 20, 2015 at 14:02
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  • If you order the above by total reputation, then the U.S. is third on the list (after Germany and the U.K.). Commented May 21, 2015 at 20:35
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    Open source/free culture have nothing at all to do with socialism ... Commented May 26, 2015 at 16:53
  • @kjetilbhalvorsen Socialism: Social ownership of the means of production.
    – jak123
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 6:08
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    Free software is not social ownership, whatever that means. The GNU GPL, for instance, is about right of modification and distribution, and is based on copyright law, that is, on private ownership. Commented May 27, 2015 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


A big obstacle why TeX is not so much fiddled with in US is the academic practice that is one of the main driving forces, if not the biggest, behind the need to create/tweak TeX related things.

In US, MSc and PhD theses are very tightly, and unfortunately often with very little typographical taste, specified. Hence, you don't get to procrastinate with TeX as much as in other countries when you feel like you need to adjust the timer of your toaster to UNIX time or assign seventh button of your mouse to tile your desktop windows according to the golden ratio.

Based on my biased perspective people who get hooked up with TeX during the studies either never touch it again or get more and more involved.

Even PDFTeX is written by Hàn Thế Thành during his PhD thesis.

To invoke a political argument, you need to invoke governmental and private sector contributions with actual numbers, otherwise it becomes yet another stereotypical justification to a hypothesis. If that was true, then we wouldn't have, say for Python world, IPython, the whole scientific stack NumPy, SciPy etc. which are equally socialist in their nature and contributed mainly from US together with conferences such as PyCon.

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    10/10 I would buy a UNIX toaster gold ratio desktop mouse thingy. ♥ Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 13:17
  • @PauloCereda If I know you a little you already built one for yourself :)
    – percusse
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 14:14

Base numbers: inhabitants of US and Canada: ca. 350 mn, Europe: more than 700 mn people. Occam's razor: forget about socialism in Europe being a reason for European inhabitants to use LaTeX.

To say it in a more friendly manner: come to Europe and see it with your own eyes. Don't believe what people say who never have been here.

  • The fact that Germany (having ~80M inhabitants) alone has pretty much the same amount of users as the US contradicts your point. But I agree that socialism has nothing to do with it. Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 21:03

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