(web2c.info)Initial and virgin
Initial and virgin ------------------ The TeX, Metafont, and MetaPost programs each have two main variants, called initial and virgin. As of Web2c 7, one executable suffices for both variants. The initial form is enabled if: 1. the `-ini' option was specified; or 2. the program name is `initex' resp. `inimf' resp. `inimpost'; or 3. the first line of the main input file is `%&ini'; otherwise, the virgin form is used. The "virgin" form is the one generally invoked for production use. The first thing it does is read a memory dump (Note: Determining the memory dump to use), and then proceeds on with the main job. The "initial" form is generally used only to create memory dumps (see the next section). It starts up more slowly than the virgin form, because it must do lengthy initializations that are encapsulated in the memory dump file. In the past, there was a third form, "preloaded" executables. This is no longer recommended or widely used; but see the section below if you're interested anyway. In this case, the memory dump file was read in to the virgin form, a core dump of the running executable was done, and the `undump' program run to create a new binary. Nowadays, reading memory dumps is fast enough that this is generally no longer worth the cost in disk space and unshared executables.
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