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I am just starting out with LaTeX on Windows XP, and I was advised to install MiKTeX.

What would I get in the complete MiKTeX that isn't in basic MiKTeX?

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The basic MiKTeX installs a small set of packages. The complete one installs all of the ones that MiKTeX knows about. As MiKTeX can install packages 'on the fly', the main advantages of the complete install are

  1. When using MiKTeX on a PC that is not always connected to the internet
  2. For multi-user installations where it is best to ensure that a known set of packages are available.

If you are using your own PC and will be attached to the internet most of the time then you can happily use the basic installation and add packages 'as needed'.

A bit more detail on multi-user systems. MiKTeX will install packages for each user separately, which is fine for a couple of people using a small set of packages, but would be bad for a system used by lots of people with very varying requirements. Hence for network-type installations a 'full' install or at least a bigger set of packages than the 'basic' is usually preferable.

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Where can I find the "complete" MiKTeX? I only see the Basic MiKTeX at the website –  becko Mar 22 '13 at 3:46
    
On miktex.org/download, if you expand 'Other Downloads' you can get the net installer, which installs everything as standard. Or you can install the basic version then use the Package Manager to add everything else. –  Joseph Wright Mar 22 '13 at 6:46
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