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Frank and all,

Well-known issue: one of TeX's longest-standing problems is that pdftex
cannot read .eps files.  This still happens to many users -- not TeXxies
who read mailing lists and know perfectly well what to do, but the
"silent majority" who just type their math papers with whatever they are
given.  I have talked to a lot of them at math conferences, e.g., just a
couple months ago.  This is the #1 annoyance in practice by far.

Of course the issue can't be solved in pdftex itself, since eps is
fundamentally incompatible with pdf.

However, we can solve it in practice in another way: automatically
invoke a conversion program like epstopdf in \includegraphics.  This is
what Heiko's epstopdf.sty package already does.  But we want it to work
without the user having to do an explicit \usepackage, because many
users do not know about it and can't figure out such things.  And they
shouldn't have to -- every other typesetting program in the world is
perfectly happy to import eps's while writing pdf's.

So, I think that what's needed on the LaTeX side is for epstopdf's
functionality to be incorporated into graphics.dtx.  I doubt LaTeX wants
to actually load epstopdf, since it uses one of Heiko's other packages,
among other things.  But it is not very long.  I really want this to get
fixed, and will write the change if I have to, although of course I'd be
very grateful if someone else can do it.

Assuming, that is, that you-all would accept such a change.

Wdyt?

Thanks,
Karl

P.S. A related issue is enabling \write18 by default so that the
conversion can take place.  I'm still not willing to go enable
unrestricted shell escapes by default, but Akira Kakuto and I have
implemented what we think is an acceptable compromise: allowing \write18
to execute one of a list of commands specified in specified in
texmf.cnf, if shell_escape is set that way (which it will be).
epstopdf, Siep's epspdf, etc., will be in the list, of course.