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Integrating Local Additions provides a nice explanation of how to manipulate TEXINPUTS or register a local texmf tree.

Q: When integrating local additions, is there a reason to prefer one approach over the other?

I'm guessing that TEXINPUTS is just regarded as the quick and dirty approach while registering a local texmf tree may be a better idea if you have a lot of files within a logical directory structure to which latex needs to be pointed.

If I'm missing something here I'd love to hear about it :)

This question is a follow-up to my post Texmf tree with MikTeX

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

TeX itself uses TEXINPUTS and it can cause an error if it is also set by the user. An almost secure way is to use a local texmf tree. With MiKTeX you can have several of them. For Linux you have TEXMF, TEXMFLOCAL and TEXMFHOME. The latter do not need a `texhash´ command, it is searched recursively by TeX.

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I have never heard of using TEXINPUTS causing trouble if used correctly. It is intended to be used by the user, surely? (And by used correctly, I mean typically with a trailing colon, to insert the directories spesified by the texmf.conf file(s) at the end.) – Harald Hanche-Olsen Mar 1 '11 at 12:04
I have several TeXLive versions and ConTeXt minimals installed and run permanent into trouble when using TEXINPUTS and switching between ConTeXt and PDFTeX – Herbert Mar 1 '11 at 12:37
If you say so, but I remain skeptical in the absense of more detailed evidence. – Harald Hanche-Olsen Mar 1 '11 at 13:42
I know that on MikTeX 2.8 TEXINPUTS is not even initially defined. The user must define it and initialize it to the path of interest. I played with it---adding, deleting, etc. No issues so far. – lowndrul Mar 1 '11 at 15:09
The MikTeX documentation specifically states that TEXINPUTS is used to resolve \input. That being the case it has no connection to 'using a local texmf tree'. The document linked to by the OP, has itself a link to the ref I mentioned. – hsmyers Feb 21 '13 at 4:24

TEXINPUTS is easier and works best for ad-hoc files. If you use the same files with different jobs, and particularly if you have other kinds of files such as fonts, you are best off using a Texmf tree because you do not need to manage environment variables and the Texlive command-line tools understand the Texmf tree better.

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