I have been unable to make a two-column format work with tables that can split across column breaks or page breaks. Every approach has a problem with it. So niceTables.pl will not use tables that break (the native tables and unionTables tables don't break either.)
So the initial reason for including texlive-latex-extra is no longer with us. However I still think it would be good to keep it, because I may be able to do some neat things with hard copy production if I can assume the presence of these latex packages.