Document formats (was: To the keepers of the holy grail of Open Source)

Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Tue Jan 23 19:52:11 UTC 2001

Rick Moen <rick at> writes:

> LaTex is "based on" Knuth's work in the sense that it implements the TeX
> design, but my understanding is that it is not a derivative work in a
> copyright sense, but rather was written separately by Leslie Lamport,
> and is now maintained by the LaTeX3 Project
> (

TeX is essentially a programming language interpreter.  The language
it interprets might be called the TeX language.

LaTeX is essentially a library written in the TeX language.  Arguably,
LaTeX is only a derived work in the sense that a program which runs on
the Linux kernel is a derived work.

(If you don't use LaTeX, you typically use a different library written
by Knuth, known as Plain TeX.)


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