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.


Writing a cv with LaTeX

In the past I used classicthesis as a template to write my cv with LaTeX. If you want to get a template for this, I have uploaded one recently at github. Here is the link :
cv_classicthesis.tex at github

I compiled this template with pdflatex. Here is an example of output I get when I compiled this template from this file :

Also, notice that you can get a modified template (which I personally dislike) made by an italian. Here is the link at ctan :

Arsclassica at

If you use Ubuntu or any other Unix Operating system with Gnome, then type Alt+F2 and in the prompt enter texdoc arsclassica :

And here is the output you get when you compile the *.tex file :

But recently, I have stopped to use classicthesis as the template of my cv, and I have sticked to another one, really amazing, called moderncv.

I have put a copy of the template and my cv made with it at Github. For a complete documentation and examples, take a look at the directory where the documentation of your distribution is located. If you use Ubuntu with TeXlive 2009, you might find it at /usr/share/doc/texlive-latex-extra/moderncv. If you don’t find it, then take a look at here :

moderncv at

Here is an example of the output you will get when you will compile your cv with the casual version of moderncv :

Pretty great, huh ?

Also, when you will take a look at the template, you will notice there is a choice between 2 flavors, casual and classic. Here is a picture of a classic version (and its source file is here) :

If you have any problem, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

The documentation with LaTeX

If you don’t know where is the documentation of a package included in your TeX distribution because, for example, you are not familiar with the Unix filesystem locations, then there is a simple way to get the pdf documentation related to any package.

When you get the name of a package, say for example classicthesis, then type Alt+F2 to get a prompt (it depends on your desktop environment, but if you use Gnome or KDE it will work, and if not, you can use gmrun). Then, enter “texdoc” followed by the name of the package. Here is a screenshot of what you get in Ubuntu after typing Alt+F2 :

After typing “texdoc” and the name of the package, you will get its related documentation in pdf format :

Here is a link toward a description of the texdoc command. Not really useful, just in case you want it.

If you don’t want to use texdoc, or just want to get the .tex format of the pdf documentation, then look at this directory if you have installed TeXLive in Ubuntu with the usual method :


If you use the default file manager of Ubuntu, type TeXLive, and you will have all the documentation about latex, xelatex, etc. If you use pdflatex to compile your files, then you might find all the doc you need in :


Finally, if you don’t have installed TeXLive with the usual method, but with the script install-tl of the TeX User Group, then look here :


By the way, if you are interested in the Unix filesystem hierarchy of GNU/Linux, then here is a link you might find interesting :

And here is for FreeBSD users :

Writing a report part 2 : Sharing and editing your work online

When writing a report, a thesis, or any other academic paper, one can ask itself how could I share my files ? Indeed, LaTeX files can be divided between several files, and it might be painful to send them all by mail. Then, a website where everything is put might be helpful.

There are several ways to share your files online. But here I will focus on an easy way to get a working “google doc” version for everyone and enhanced for our purpose.

I think Github is all we need. Git is a distributed revision control system (If you don’t know what is a distributed revision control system, you can get a brief idea by looking here). And Github is a hosting site apparented to social network. With Github, you can get a repository for free where you can put your files, update them, and share them easily.

First, follow the steps at github to install git. Then, create an account at for free. After that, follow the steps described, which might be something like this :

cd ~ #a command to move into your /home/username directory
mkdir your_repository #a command to create your own repository in your /home/username directory
git init
etc, etc

But you will notice that the command “git push origin master” doesn’t work. Indeed, you need to get a ssh key. For this, in a terminal enter the following commands :

mkdir ~/.ssh
cd ~/.ssh
ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/

Then, go into your account settings in Add a new key, untitled “” and copy there the content of you file ~/.ssh/ Here is a screenshot of what I get in my account settings :

After that, you will be able to create a file in your repository located in your /home/username directory, and to push it online in order to share it.

If you need further documentation, look here :
Git for the lazy

Here is a cheat-sheet, useful as a reminder :

If you have any question related to git, please, feel free to ask something. If you don’t understand something, I can update my post and try to clarify it.

Finally, here are some documentation to get git working with Mac OSX :
Git on mac OSX
and here is a screencast related to git with windows :
Git on windows

Since command line is not appreciated by everyone,
I will update this post and add something to use git
with a frontend.

Writing a report, part 1 : graphs

In the following posts, I will explain the basics of LaTeX and other tips in order to write a report. My purpose is to be able to write any kind of report related to humanities. That’s why you shouldn’t expect to see any kind of particular tips or hack, just the basics for beginners.

In this post I will focus my explanation on graphics. Indeed in humanities, history for example, you will be likely to have to insert graphics in your report, thesis, slides and so on. To create these graphs, I use plotdrop. Plotdrop is a minimal and simple frontend to Gnuplot, useful when you have a list of figures.

I will consider the following example to explain how we use this software. Let’s consider you have the following figures :

#Tableau des prix moyens nationaux annuels de l’hectolitre de froment par année civile de 1726 à 1790
#année  prix moyens de l’hectolitre (en livres tournois)

1726          11.33
1727          9.23
1728          8.19
1729          9.05
1730          9.07
1731          9.38
1732          8.28
1733          8.07
1734          8.25
1735          8.11
1736          9.03
1737          9.42
1738          10.33
1739          11.36
1740          12.25
1741        14.18
1742          10.69
1743          7.82
1744          7.57
1745          7.62
1746          9.39
1747          12.04
1748          13.72
1749          12.46
1750          11.49
1751          11.67
1752          13.25
1753          11.85
1754          11.17
1755          8.54
1756          9.58
1757          11.89
1758          11.27
1759          11.76
1760          11.77
1761          10
1762          9.91
1763          9.53
1764          10.01
1765          11.16
1766          13.27
1767          14.32
1768         15.51
1769         15.38
1770          18.82
1771         18.16
1772         16.65
1773         16.44
1774         14.57
1775         15.89
1776         12.91
1777         13.36
1778          14.67
1779         13.59
1780          12.59
1781          13.45
1782          15.26
1783          15.02
1784         15.33
1785         14.83
1786         14.13
1787         14.16
1788          16.09
1789          21.92
1790          19.45

These figures show average national annual price of the hectoliter of wheat from 1726 until 1790, the French Revolution. Everything which is after the “#” is ignored, so if you want to write comments or make a quick description of your file, use “#”. Also, notice that there is a space between years (x axis) and price (y axis). I use the tab key to easily put this space and clarify my file.

I have saved this figures in a file named “example.txt”. Notice the extension, “.txt”. Nothing complicated at all, which means that if you use Windows, you can use notepad, available for free since it is the default text editor for Windows. In Mac OS X, you can use TextEdit, see in your Applications folder. If you use Linux or FreeBSD, you have plenty of choices. You can use Gedit, Kate, Kwrite, GVim, Emacs, etc. But if you are unfamiliar with Linux, then use gedit in Ubuntu, it is simple. Here is a screenshot :

Second, we have our figures, we want to get our graph. Then we use plotdrop. If you use Ubuntu, then install it with synaptic :

Once you have Plotdrop installed, then open it. If you don’t know where it is located in your menu, then press Alt+F2, type “Plotdrop”, and press Enter. Here is how plotdrop looks like :

Open up you file manager (Nautilus, Pcmanfm, Thunar, Dolphin depending on your system) and select the file in your file manager, and drop it in Plotdrop. Then push the button “Plot”. That’s all folks ! Here is a picture of the output I get with my file example.txt :

Notice that the default layout of your graph can be changed in the options of Plotdrop, see in “Appearance” and then “Line style”. Next, when you are satisfied of the output you get, save it. For this, see the menu, Plot, and Plot to file :

As you will see, Plotdrop is useful and easy to use. If you want to use other software, remember the name Gnuplot. This program has several frontends. Search these with Synaptic, or any other package manager in Linux, or take a look at this link :

Polices de caractères japonaises/Japanese fonts

Whereas understanding the french language is a problem for most people in the world, english might be ok. Thus, in order to be understood by everyone, I will write titles both in french and in english, and texts in english (though my english level is quite bad).

Installing fonts might be a problem for newbies discovering any distribution of linux, even ubuntu. Here are some tips related to japanese fonts :

  • With Windows, japanese common font is MS明朝. With GNU/Linux, it is IPA明朝. I recommend downloading it from here. It is a set of fonts, you will get : IPA明朝/IPA Mincho, IPA P明朝/IPA P Mincho, IPAゴシック/IPA Gothic (Sans serif), IPA Pゴシック/IPA P Gothic.
  • Several interesting fonts are also available here. Just scroll the bar and you will see all available fonts.
  • You can get also other japanese fonts with synaptic : search with “font” and “japanese” as keywords and you will get a list of available japanese fonts.
  • Finally copy all your fonts in a new folder, called “.fonts”. When copying is finished, put your folder in the /home/Your_Name directory, where “Your_Name” is your user name.
  • This is not exactly the purpose of this post, but for western language like french or english, I recommend using Freeserif. This is the font I used for my graduation thesis. You can get it with synaptic, or in a terminal :

sudo apt-get install ttf-freefont

environnements de bureau, conseils, astuces

Enlightenment DR17 :
intérêt de l’environnement : rapide, idéal pour les netbook.
site officiel : enlightenment
documentation et présentation avec screenshots : doc ubuntu

KDE 4 :
intérêt de l’environnement : complet, excellent, sera sûrement le meilleur avec kde 4.4 (release de kde 4.4 vers janvier~février).
site officiel : kde
présentation : KDE 4.3
documentation :doc ubuntu

Openbox :
intérêt : le meilleur quand on a très peu de mémoire ram (moins de 256~500 mb), et que l’on a par exemple besoin de lire un pdf de 700 pages. Avec Openbox, les ressources de l’ordinateur sont considérablement moins utilisées.
défaut : il faut tout faire par soi-même pour ne pas rester avec un écran noir.
site officiel : Openbox
documentation : doc ubuntu
et un blog sur openbox très utile pour une aide à la configuration.

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