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He was already logged in before tex was installed, so the profile scripts had not been run (since they weren't there when he logged in) and thus PATH did not include tex. Switching to root using "su" doesn't re-init the environment, so tex *still* wasn't in PATH.
I don't use and have xfce in my box. AFSIK, KDE will source the /etc/profile when login. So it will and do be fine here. And if you did not modify the patched(yes, by PatV) /usr/share/applications/kde4/konsole.desktop, Konsole will be a login-shell every time you invoke it. So it would be Ok if you use Konsole. For other things, I don't know. Sorry.