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I know this subject has come up quite a few times so far (with different distro's of texlive). See for instance:

Missing tlmgr texlive 2012
tlmgr: TeX Live 2011 is frozen forever
Texlive installation is missing tlmgr, how to fix?
http://the-praise-of-insects.blogspot.com/2011/08/tlmgr-not-available-for-ubuntu.html
http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=260451

None of them provided a solution that worked for me. The last link implies that the Ubuntu developers decided not to include tlmgr in the texlive distribution.

I installed texlive afresh via the following instructions: http://askubuntu.com/questions/160676/problems-installing-tex-live-2012-on-12-04

My texlive distro apparently lives here: $ whereis texlive: /usr/share/texlive

Any clue where to find tlmgr or how to activate it without reinstalling the texlive distribution all over again?

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The Debian/Ubuntu provided TeX Live doesn't have tlmgr and will never have it. The only way to get it is to install the "vanilla" TeX Live from tug.org/texlive –  egreg Sep 18 '12 at 22:55
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The reason is that Debian doesn't allow any other package manager than its own. Sorry for the problem with the connection; DVD with TeX Live are available from TeX Users groups and one may be near you. –  egreg Sep 18 '12 at 23:00
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@grrrbytes -- You will never be able to 'install' tlmgr on its own: it is part of a TeX Live installation. If you install from Debian/Ubuntu repositories, you will never have tlmgr. I was just trying to suggest that you don't necessarily need to have it. Many people manage to function just fine without having the most current versions of *TeX packages available, or by simply updating manually the packages they depend on (which is what I do; but regular visitors on this site tend to be the sort of people who want/need the cutting edge tlmgr affords them). –  jon Sep 18 '12 at 23:20
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@grrrbytes As both Debian maintainer of TeX Live and author of tlmgr, I would say that a normal user, i.e., not developer of (La)TeX/etc packages, nor one that plays with the latest font developments (esp otf math fonts), it is better on Debian/Ubuntu to stay with the native packages instead of installing your own copy. Especially if you don't know exactely about basic sysadmin tasks (PATH search priority, permissions etc), since if you don't know it is bound to create problems. –  norbert Sep 20 '12 at 15:03
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@grrrbytes Furthermore, if you are using Debian testing or sid (and if it exists something similar in Ubuntu), then after release of wheezy I plan to do monthly updates of the texlive packages based on the current tlnet status. Thus even Debian people would come - with a short delay - to latest packages. –  norbert Sep 20 '12 at 15:03

2 Answers 2

As both Debian maintainer of TeX Live and author of tlmgr, I would like to state my personal ideas about it:

First, with the Debian native packages of TeX Live there will be in foreseeable time no tlmgr available. Even if it will be available, then only for managing TEXMFHOME or TEXMFLOCAL (for the sysadmin) (by using the user mode patches for tlmgr which are badly outdated at the moment).

On the other hand, it might not be necessary to have tlmgr available. Package installation, removal and configuration is done by the APT family (apt-get, aptitude and respective GUIs). Package search can be done with apt-cache search. That leads to the following suggestions:

For normal users, that are users who are not developers of (La)TeX/Font/etc packages, nor play with the latest font developments (esp. otf math fonts), for these users it is better on Debian/Ubuntu to stay with the native packages instead of installing your own copy. Especially if one does not know exactly about basic sysadmin tasks (PATH search priority, permissions etc), since if you don't know it is bound to create problems.

If you are developer, or have experience enough with both basic sysadmin tasks, using TeX Live upstream together with either a proper equivs package for texlive, or (disk space allowing) double installation.

Furthermore, if you are using Debian testing or sid (and if it exists something similar in Ubuntu), then after release of wheezy I plan to do monthly updates of the texlive packages based on the current tlnet status. Thus even Debian people would come - with a short delay - to latest packages.

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I have texlive on my system (Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS) but the package "glossaries" was not installed. So I went to tug.org/texlive/pkginstall.html and then I was looking for tlmgr which is not available. I found this question and I followed your suggestion: apt-cache search glossaries answered me with texlive-latex-extra - TeX Live: LaTeX supplementary packages and so I installed texlive-latex-extra and I solved my problem. –  Alessandro Dec 28 '12 at 17:30
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I don't really want to turn this into a debate, but as a counter point, I am not a developer but I couldn't stand the fact that if I needed to install, say, glossaries, I had to install the 652 other packages I don't need from texlive-latex-extra. Apart from the old versions of the packages, it was the inefficiency and lack of control that lead me to install vanilla. And I couldn't be happier. –  jja Mar 21 '13 at 10:15
    
@jja I agree that the splitting is not optimal, but single package splits is even worse, as there would be about 2000+ new packages, which is not acceptable for Debian. –  norbert Apr 6 '13 at 6:56

For those that need it -

Sometimes tlmgr is useful because you've had to install some out of date or badly constructed package by manually copying files into the texmf tree and you need to get tex to sort out its paths etc.

Without tlmgr it can be pretty tricky so in ubuntu you're a bit screwed... however there is a work around: make your changes and then use synaptic to trigger the task tlmgr would have done by removing and reinstalling some part of the texlive distribution. This will trigger the tex install scripts to do this job for you.

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Welcome to TeX.sx! –  lockstep Mar 21 '13 at 10:20
    
On those (hopefully) rare occasions when you do need to install manually, there are step-by-step instructions at latex.silmaril.ie/formattinginformation/addons.html#pkginst (the rest of the document needs updating, but I updated this section just now). –  Peter Flynn Nov 27 '13 at 22:16

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