ConTeXt Standalone

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< Installation | ConTeXt Minimals/Tree | ConTeXt Minimals/Structure | ConTeXt Minimals/Implementation | ConTeXt Minimals/TODO | ConTeXt Minimals/Contents >

The ConTeXt Minimal is a ConTeXt distribution that

  • Includes the latest binaries of all TeX engines: pdfTeX, luaTeX, and XeTeX.
  • Includes the latest stable & beta version of ConTeXt. You can choose which one to install.
  • Provides an efficient update mechanism
  • Can be used in parallel with existing TeX installtions such as MikTeX, TeXLive, or older minimal installation. Having multiple ConTeXt minimal installations is useful if you have a critical project and do not want to mess with you ConTeXt installation for it. You can keep one minimal distribution frozen for your project, and can use another one to use a up-to-date ConTeXt.
  • Does not need root privileges to be installed
  • Takes reasonable amount of space
  • Does not include any LaTeX packages & binaries
  • Faster (due to smaller size)
  • Possible to make it even smaller by installing only luatex for example

The distribution is hosted on (equivalent to rsync:// You need to have rsync installed. For windows, a binary of rsync is available as part of the minimal distribution.




You need rsync, ruby, around 200 MB free disk space (might change with time) and one of supported platforms (see below).


Go to a folder where you want to put ConTeXt. We'll assume installation into ~/context, but you can install it anywhere where you have writing permissions. You can install several copies to several places without interference. (Mac users can also take a look at ConTeXt Minimals/Mac Installation.)

mkdir context && cd context
rsync -ptv rsync:// .

... go and have a coffee ...

Usage: permanent

(For those who mostly use ConTeXt and [almost] never LaTeX.)

Put the following line to ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bashrc:

source ~/context/tex/setuptex ~/context/tex

(t)csh users can use the variant:

source ~/context/tex/setuptex.csh

In theory it should already suffice to add export PATH=~/context/tex/texmf-<platform>/bin:$PATH.

Usage: temporary

(For those who often use LaTeX, but need the latest ConTeXt every now and then.)

Just type

. ~/context/tex/setuptex ~/context/tex

to switch from system-wide TeX distribution to the minimals inside current shell.


For now just run ./ again. This will change - the name is not most self-explanatory at the moment. In theory

mtxrun --script update

should work, but it has not been tested yet.


Just remove the folder (distribution did not touch anything else):

rm -rf ~/context

Remaking formats

Thi is optional: only if you need to remake formats for some unexpected reason or use another interface (for example the German one):

texexec --make --all en de
texexec --make --xtx --all en de
luatools --generate
context --make en de


Installation: global & GUI

(For those who don't need MikTeX/TeX Live and prefer Graphical user interface.)

Download and run the GUI installer (made by Vyatcheslav Yatskovsky).

Slides from author's presentation can be downloaded here.

Use standard windows tool for uninstalling the application.

Installation: local & command-line

(For those who need MikTeX/TeX Live and are comfortable with command-line.)

Download and unzip

Run first-setup.bat, go for a coffee.

Before being able to use ConTeXt you need to run setuptex.bat to initialize the environment. A simple way to do it is to create a file startcontext.bat (use any name) somewhere in PATH and put this line into it

C:\Programs\context\tex\setuptex.bat C:\Programs\context\tex

Then, you can type startcontext into CMD whenever you want to use ConTeXt Minimals instead of MikTeX.

Another method is to create a shortcut to cmd.exe and edit the command line to read

C:\WINDOWS\System32\cmd.exe /k C:\Programs\context\tex\setuptex.bat C:\Programs\context\tex

This starts up a new command shell with the environment pre-loaded.

For uninstalling just delete the folder with minimals.


  • rsync sometimes has problems with paths with uppercase letters (like c:\Temp or c:\Documents and Settings). Installing into all-lowercase paths without spaces sometimes helps.
  • If you're behind firewall and rsync times out you need to open port 873 for outgoing TCP connections.


The minimals contain:

  • ConTeXt: current, beta + some older releases
  • Fonts: most important TeX-aware ones
  • Binaries: latest version of pdfTeX, XeTeX, LuaTeX, Metapost
  • Formats (need to be generated by user) for
    • ConTeXt, mptopdf and plain TeX for pdfTeX/XeTeX/LuaTeX
    • metafun and plain for Metapost

See ConTeXt Minimals/Contents.


What to install

  • --platform=name-of-platform (see supported platforms; default: the one we are working on)
  • --engines=list-of-engines (options: luatex, xetex, pdftex, all; default: all)
  • --context=version (options: current, beta, alpha,; default: beta)

What to do

  • --force (as opposed to --dryrun; do the real thing; this is needed) needs to be fixed
  • --update (update minimal tree)
  • --make (make formats and generate file databases)
  • --state (update tree using saved state) needs to be implemented/fixed
  • --keep (as apposed to --delete; don't delete unused or obsolete files) needs to be improved

Where to install

  • --texroot=path (installation path; default: tex)

Rsync Server

(currently there's only one anyway)

  • --server=repository-url (default: rsync://
  • --module=string (default: minimals)
  • --rsync=name-of-rsync-binary (default: rsync) Why do we need this?

Supported platforms

Windows mswin Akira Kakuto (W32TeX)
Linux linux compiled with glibc 2.3.6
Linux, 64-bit linux-64 Peter Münster we consider renaming it to linux-amd64
Linux, PowerPC linux-ppc Piotr Kopszak
Mac OS X, Intel osx-intel Mojca Miklavec
Mac OS X, PowerPC osx-ppc Mojca Miklavec
Mac OS X, Universal Binaries osx-universal Mojca Miklavec
FreeBSD freebsd Yue Wang, Diego Depaoli we consider renaming it to freebsd-intel
FreeBSD, AMD64 freebsd-amd64 Michael Krauß
Solaris, Intel solaris-intel Michael Krauß
Solaris, Sparc solaris-sparc Vladimir Volovich compiled on solaris 8

Other platforms can be added on request provided that you are willing to keep sending us updates with recent versions of binaries. Please write to the ntg-context mailing list.

See also ConTeXt Minimals/Implementation. Catergory:Minimals