Introduction to TeX Live and its installer

The TeX Live package is a comprehensive TeX document production system. It includes TeX, LaTeX2e, ConTeXt, Metafont, MetaPost, BibTeX and many other programs; an extensive collection of macros, fonts and documentation; and support for typesetting in many different scripts from around the world.

It is necessary to use a binary installer for the first install. This will provide the programs, the scripts, and a lot of supporting files and documentation. After that, you can rebuild most of the programs from source by following the instructions for texlive-20140525. The installer is updated frequently, so its md5sum will change if it is newer than what is shown below. Newer versions of the installer are expected to work with these instructions, for so long as they install to a 2014/ directory.

This package is known to build and work properly using an LFS-7.6 systemd platform.

Package Information

Recommended (at runtime)

ghostscript-9.14 is dynamically loaded by dvisvgm, which is used by asy.

Xorg Libraries and libxcb-1.11 are needed for inimf, mf, pdfclose, pdfopen and xdvixaw. But if you are using asy, or using TeX to create a PDF file, you will need an X Window System (for PDF files, this is to support a PDF viewer of your choice, for example epdfview-0.1.8).

the optional non-wide-character ncurses library (for "some binary-only application") from the bottom of the Ncurses page in LFS is needed for which is used by xindy

If you are building on 32-bit x86, the binary version of asy needs FFTW, GLU-9.0.0 and libreadline-5.2 : this only requires which can be manually copied from the shm/ directory after running configure and make and then symlinked as

Python-2.7.8 is used by many scripts.

Ruby-2.1.2 is used by some scripts, mostly within mtx_context which is part of conTeXt.

User Notes:

Binary Installation of TeX Live

The TeX Live set of programs with its supporting documents, fonts, and utilities is very large. The upstream maintainers recommend placing all files in a single directory structure. BLFS recommends /opt/texlive.

First, unpack the installer and change into the installer's directory, install-tl-<CCYYMMDD>. This directory name changes when the installer is updated, so replace <CCYYMMDD> by the correct directory name.

tar -xf install-tl-unx.tar.gz &&
cd install-tl-<CCYYMMDD> 


The distribution binaries installed below use static linking for general linux system libraries. Additional libraries or interpreters as specified in the dependencies section do not need to be present during the install, but the programs that need them will not run until their specific dependencies have been installed.

Now, as the root user:

TEXLIVE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/opt/texlive ./install-tl

This command is interactive and allows selection or modification of platform, packages, directories, and other options. The full installation scheme will require about 3.8 gigabytes of disk space. The time to complete the download will depend on your internet connection speed and the number of packages selected.

After the package download is complete, the next step is to make sure that the system can properly find the files. If you set up your login scripts as recommended in The Bash Shell Startup Files, update the needed paths by appending to the script. The programs are always installed in an <ARCH>-linux subdirectory. Always replace <ARCH> by x86_64, for 64bit, or by i386, for 32bit, respectively, depending on the architecture that you are using in your actual installation location.

cat >> /etc/profile.d/ << "EOF"
pathappend /usr/share/man                        MANPATH
pathappend /opt/texlive/2014/texmf-dist/doc/man  MANPATH
pathappend /usr/share/info                       INFOPATH
pathappend /opt/texlive/2014/texmf-dist/doc/info INFOPATH
pathappend /opt/texlive/2014/bin/<ARCH>-linux


The standard MANPATH and INFOPATH path are specified above to ensure they are included. If they are already set in the boot script procedure, the pathappend function will ensure duplicates are removed, so including them here will do no harm.

The new paths can be immediately activated by running source /etc/profile.

At this point the binary installation is complete.

Command Explanations

./install-tl --location use a variation of this if you wish to use a different mirror, e.g. because you are in New Zealand but the installer chooses to use an Australian mirror. The list of mirrors is at


Installed Programs: Over 300 binaries and symlinks to scripts
Installed Libraries: None
Installed Directories: /opt/texlive

Short Descriptions

TeX programs

The programs included in TeX are too numerous to individually list. Please refer to the individual program HTML and PDF pages in the installation directory's 2014/doc.html file, or the various html, man, or pdf files within the subdirectories of 2014/texmf-dist/.

Last updated on 2014-09-15 23:11:39 -0700