Installing a TeX distribution : Windows, Mac OSX, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD

Here is a walkthrough for those who wish to install a TeX distribution in their Operating system, but who don’t know the right place from where they should start, and who are not so familiar with google searches.

  1. For Windows : Installing MikTeX is easy and has already been well described by others. That’s why rather than describing you the installation process, look at this page :
    Tutorial of the installation of MikTeX by Philippe Goutet, professor at the University Paris 6 (Jussieu).
    For english users who don’t understand french, and who wish to understand this page, you have 2 choices : (1) to focus on images and ignore the french explanations (2) to understand that if you don’t play video games, you should install Ubuntu on your computer as a replacement of Microsoft Windows, and follow the second item of this post
  2. For GNU/Linux part 1 : You can install TeXlive 2009 with the package manager. With Ubuntu, open Ubuntu Software center, search for texlive-full, and install it :
  3. For GNU/Linux part 2 : If for any reason, you prefer to install the latest TeXlive version, currently 2010, then do as follows :
    • Go here and download :
    • Then, expand the archive, open it, copy the install-tl in your home directory, open a terminal (type alt+F2 and in the prompt enter “gnome-terminal” without the quotes), launch install-tl with “sudo ./install-tl -gui”, and enter your password :
    • After that the installation interface will launch :
      You don’t have to make any change, just click the button at the bottom, on the left (in english it may be “install TeX Live”, in japanese it is “TeX Live の導入”). Then, the installation process will begin (you may have to wait more than 1h until it finishes, so be patient) :

    • After this installation process is finished, you will have to add a PATH to get your installation work. For this, add the following lines at the end of your .bashrc (type alt+f2 and enter in the prompt “gedit /home/username/.bashrc”, where username is you user name) :

      PATH=/usr/local/texlive/2010/bin/i386-linux:$PATH; export PATH
      MANPATH=/usr/local/texlive/2010/texmf/doc/man:$MANPATH; export MANPATH
      INFOPATH=/usr/local/texlive/2010/texmf/doc/info:$INFOPATH; export INFOPATH

      Here is a screenshot :

      Add the same lines in your .profile (/home/username/.profile)

    • Finally, if you use TeXWorks, open TeXworks, go in Edition, Settings, Typesetting :

      Then, add the path “/usr/local/texlive/2010/bin/i386-linux” :

      And everything will work well.

  4. For FreeBSD : the installation process is similar to the one for GNU/Linux I have described in the second part. But if you use the default shell, that is to say, csh, you will just have to change the PATH. It might be something like the following :

    setenv PATH /usr/local/texlive/2010/bin/i386-freebsd:$PATH
    setenv MANPATH /usr/local/texlive/2010/texmf/doc/man:$MANPATH
    setenv INFOPATH /usr/local/texlive/2010/texmf/doc/info:$INFOPATH

  5. For Mac OSX : MacTeX is the distibution Mac users should use. Download the zip file located here. Then, unzip it, click on the *.dmg file and install it. You will notice that you have TeXworks installed in your TeX folder located in your Applications folder. TeXworks is an easy to use and good TeX editor.

In all cases (Windows, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OSX), if you are a beginner, then use TeXWorks. For GNU/Linux, Kile is also a good choice, but if you don’t plan to typeset mathematical symbols, TeXWorks may remain a better choice with useful options (such as commenting a block of text, very useful) which are not available in Kile. But of course, the choice of your TeX editor depends on several variables such as your skills, your habit. That’s why I would recommend to try both if you don’t know or simply hesitate.

If you are not a beginner, then use Emacs or Vim. I will write a post about these text editors soon.

  1. Thanks, especially for the Linux part, which is, as usual, somewhat esoteric.

    To comment a block of text on Kile, highlight it, then type Ctrl-D. To uncomment, type Shift-Ctrl-D.

    Among the editors I have tried (emacs, vim, the default one for TeXShop on a mac, and Kile), I found Kile the easiest to use. It’s command completion is very good. I hope that somebody will port it to the mac as a standalone program, so that you don’t have to install kde first.

    On a mac, TeXShop is also not bad. It allows you to click on the pdf output (when using pdflatex) and it will jump to the right place in the editor (and vice versa).

  2. Hello,

    Thank you for your comment and to have pointed out a mistake I made.

    I also think Kile is easy to use, and is not difficult to configure. Also, I think that someone who write math should use it to get a try.

    But actually, the appreciation “easiest to use” is somewhat subjective. For example, in France we have an entrance examination called “general culture test” for Science-Po, a Grande École. But what we call culture is highly subjective, and to read Rousseau doesn’t mean to be cultured.

    It is the same pattern for text editors for LaTeX. GVim might be easy to use if we are already used to shorcuts. And since using shortcuts is just a matter of habits, I encourage Western people to use “simple” text editors like Kile or TeXWorks, but to African people, I encourage them to use GVim. Once it is well configured, it is easy to use.

    The installation for Linux, and in my case Ubuntu, was what we could call, as you said, “esoteric”. I have written a script for Ubuntu (at the moment, only tested with Ubuntu 10.04). I should have written it with Xdialogue, but I didn’t have the time to do it, so I only added zenity dialogues. I hope it will be useful for others, but using the terminal is needed to run it, so installing TeXLive 2010 will remain somewhat esoteric with my script… But if someone not used to command line has a problem with it, I encourage him to leave a comment.

    Alexandre Krispin

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