TeX Live 2009

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This page describes TeX Live 2009 setup at the moment.

TeX Live 2010 has been released, see this page for details.

Installing TeX Live

TeX Live is a distribution that allows you to install TeX and friends on most operating systems. It comes with many, many additional packages, and for the time being, it is the only TeX distribution for all major OS (Windows, linux, OS X) that has regular updates. The release cycle is about once a year; the 2009 version was released in November 2009 (before that, it also had a release in 2008, 2007, 2005 and so on).

There is a number of ways to install TeX Live on your computer:

If you want to use the installation procedure provided by your distribution, refer to its documentation and skip the next section. This page will explain how to install TeX Live from the DVD.

Installation from the TeX Live DVD ISO images

Obtaining the Necessary Files

If you have a DVD, just pop it in. and skip to next subsection.

If you want to download the latest TeX Live release, point your browser to the nearest CTAN mirror and go to the directory systems/texlive/Images/. Download the latest ISO images. Please be warned that these images are huge (e.g. ISO image for TeX Live 2009 is 2,9 GiB), so if you're on a slow connection (e.g. modem), the download will take very long to complete.

Beginning and Customizing the Installation (Linux/MacOS X/Unix-like)

Once you have downloaded and saved the file, decompress it and mount it. The installation procedure is command-line based, so change to a terminal window, cd to the directory where the DVD or the TeX Live ISO has been mounted and start the installation process (on most systems, you will need root privileges to install, so either switch to a root terminal by typing su or precede the second line with sudo):

cd /media/TeXLive2009

The installation process itself is pretty self-explanatory, so hre we mention just a few points that may be of interest:

Post-Install (Linux/Mac OS X/Unix-like)

The first and most important thing you have to do after installation is add the new binaries to your $PATH variable. There are two ways to do this:

Both ways have their advantages and drawbacks. Adding symlinks is probably faster and easier if you don't have much experience, but it may make uninstalling or reinstalling more troublesome in the future. Adding the directory where TeX Live binaries are to your $PATH depends heavily on shell you are using.

In the past, we used to recommend adding the directory to $PATH, but nowadays that tlmgr tool does a pretty good job of keeping the installation in shape, there is no reason not to use it. It can add and remove the symlinks using menu option "Actions/Handle symlinks in system dirs ...".

By default, TeX Live binaries will be installed to /usr/local/texlive/2009/bin/<architecture>, with <architecture> being the name of the system on which you're running (see above). Once you have set up your $PATH variable or added symlinks, make sure that your system finds the new binaries. One way to test this would be to run:

which pdftex

pdftex --version

The output of the first command should point to the new binary, the output of the second command is, with the latest TeX Live installed:

pdfTeX 3.1415926-1.40.10-2.2 (TeX Live 2009)
kpathsea version 5.0.0
Copyright 2009 Peter Breitenlohner (eTeX)/Han The Thanh (pdfTeX).
There is NO warranty.  Redistribution of this software is
covered by the terms of both the pdfTeX copyright and
the Lesser GNU General Public License.
For more information about these matters, see the file
named COPYING and the pdfTeX source.
Primary author of pdfTeX: Peter Breitenlohner (eTeX)/Han The Thanh (pdfTeX).
Compiled with libpng 1.2.39; using libpng 1.2.39
Compiled with zlib 1.2.3; using zlib 1.2.3
Compiled with xpdf version 3.02pl3

Windows Installation

TeX Live provides GUI installation on Windows that doesn't require any explanation at all.

Generating Formats

Once the new binaries are found, you want to generate the necessary formats. It has often been suggested that ConTeXt formats be managed by texexec, not by fmtutil-sys. If you want this (and I would say it is the better choice), first run (and again, add sudo if necessary)

fmtutil-sys --edit

in line 46 of the file that opens, put the symbols #! in front of the line beginning with cont-en pdftex and cont-en xetex. Then, run fmtutil-sys:

fmtutil-sys --all

This will generate all formats necessary for TeXing except the formats for ConTeXt. In the next step, we will let ConTeXt create its own formats. Run

texexec --make --all

This should create all necessary formats, include all available languages, and install in the right location. The latest TeX Live has resolved the problem with the $engine subdirectory that has bugged ConTeXt users so long. After generating the formats, run texhash again and verify that the format files are found:

kpsewhich --engine=pdftex cont-en.fmt

If you want to use XeTeX with ConTeXt as well, repeat the procedure for this format:

texexec --xtx --make --all
kpsewhich --engine=xetex cont-en.fmt

Updating ConTeXt

TeX Live in principle offers no option to update between release cycles. But of course, you will want to update ConTeXt as soon as Hans releases a new version. This is easy to achieve: the installation process has created a skeleton directory /usr/local/texlive/texmf-local. It is empty right after installation. cd to this directory, download the latest cont-tmf.zip from the pragma website. Then unzip this archive and run
texexec --make --all
again. This will update your installation and the formats to the latest available version. When you want to update again later, simply repeat the process, overwriting all older files when unzipping.

It's also possible to use TeX Live minimals repository to replace bin-context*, context* and luatex* packages that are in TeX Live. In order to do so, use tlmgr's menu option "tlmgr/Load other repository ..." and point it to http://minimals.contextgarden.net/texlive/beta/. Note: the previous link is currently outdated, it will be updated some time after TeX Live 2010 comes out

Written by Thomas 13:38, 3 February 2007 (CET)

Revised by Vedran 13:12, 7 June 2010 (CET)


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