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I understand that the following question has been answered

Why is the MacTeX distribution so large? Is there anything smaller for OS X?

but my question differs from it. I just installed MacTeX and it used over 4 gigabytes of space on my computer. I understand the full LaTeX uses many, many libraries, but this is as big or bigger than an operating system. So my question is:

Why can't the developers of TeX Live create it so it has very low overhead?

Details would be really appreciated.

I can only imagine the possibilities such as including it in web browsers and other applications/plugins (keynote, powerpoint, etc.).

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Then install TeXLive manually. The advanced installer include various schemes which vary in size. –  daleif Jun 18 '13 at 14:33
I guess, since the price of 1GB of internal (non-SSD) hard disk storage is currently in the order of 5 cent (US), none of the developers really cares enough. –  Caramdir Jun 18 '13 at 23:13
@Caramdir I understand why it is that size, but if you see the last point I made, I care more about reducing the size so that maybe in the near future LaTeX becomes a more widespread standard. It would make no sense to install a browser that needed 4GB space just for a TeX library. –  lababidi Jun 19 '13 at 17:56
@daleif can this advanced installation be done on windows and mac? –  lababidi Jun 19 '13 at 17:56
@lababid: If you take just the lualatex executable (and necessary supporting programs), a minimal amount of packages and use system fonts you'll probably only need a couple of megabytes. But that won't be "TeX Live" anymore. Also your TeX-in-browser idea will very likely need a special implementation anyway. The standard TeX engine can't just be plugged into a browser rendering engine. –  Caramdir Jun 20 '13 at 2:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 23 down vote accepted

As you can see from

$ du -sch /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/*
16M     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/bibtex
1008K   /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/context
1,5G    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/doc
6,6M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/dvips
1,4G    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/fonts
1,9M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/ls-R
308K    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/makeindex
444K    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/metafont
3,9M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/metapost
36K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/mft
2,1M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/omega
256K    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/pbibtex
11M     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/scripts
726M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/source
218M    /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/tex
22M     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/tex4ht
20K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/texdoc
48K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/texdoctk
12K     /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/web2c
3,8G    insgesamt

the major part is documentation and fonts. If you are satisfied with a single font and without documentation, the distribution can be much smaller. There were several attempts to create such a minimalistic distribution, but I'm not sure if they are still available.

And as daleif stated in his comment, you can install a much smaller TeX Live as well.

As real overhead, maybe the source directory counts, which is also quite large. It consists of sources of most of the stuff in the other directories such as LaTeX packages etc. But this is rather a political than a technical question, therefore I leave it to the TeX Live people to answer it (IIRC they already answered it, maybe on the TeX Live mailing list).

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Would it really be without documentation, though? Isn't there a way to keep all of the dtx sources? (Thinking out loud; I'm not even sure the sources are distributed.) –  Sean Allred Jun 18 '13 at 20:59
@SeanAllred: The sources are distributed (in /source), but the PDF versions are probably more useful to most people. –  Caramdir Jun 18 '13 at 23:06
@Caramdir True -- I'm still struggling with how to compile one of those dtx-fangled things (although it may have something to do with not having doc or docstrip?). It's plain to see though that source/, while sizable, is significantly smaller than doc/. Your documentation can be generated ad-hoc if need be. –  Sean Allred Jun 18 '13 at 23:12
@SeanAllred but who other than extremists would generate documentation when needed? If I have a problem and need to look in the manual, I don't want to have to compile the manual first, that is a waste of my time. –  daleif Jun 21 '13 at 8:24
@daleif It's not a waste of your time if you need the manual. (And are we really talking about how long it (doesn't) take to compile a document?) –  Sean Allred Jun 21 '13 at 12:35

You can install a much more minimalistic texlive using profiles. Have a look at this install script I use in my github repo. I have this install just the packages I need to build the PDFs using travis-ci:


The profile file is in the same directory.

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