TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm trying to get rid of some junk on my hard drive and want to make sure I don't delete anything vital, so it's probably a dumb question.

In my latex tree there is the texmf-dist/doc folder which is over 2GB in size. Does that contain only documentation? I presume so, and given the fact that I usually look up documentation online I'd like to delete it.

share|improve this question
Note that while it is perfectly OK to delete anything on your own machine, you should be careful not to give such a cut down installation to anyone else, the licences on many components of the tex distribution (whether LPPL or GPL or other) often state that source and/or documentation should be distributed with the code. – David Carlisle Sep 23 '12 at 9:41
up vote 10 down vote accepted

It's specified by the TeX Directory Structure (TDS):

3 Top-level directories

  • ...
  • doc for user documentation

So, if there would be anything else than documentation, it would be in the wrong place.

Though I consider documentation as very important, I understand that you just change the way of access to online. Just note, that online documentation might not match the versions you have locally installed.

A good source for you: TeXdoc.net, based on TeX Live 2012 and regularly updated. It even offers a "quick search" you could use in the search field at the top right of the Firefox browser.

share|improve this answer
that's quite an authoritative answer (I was expecting things like: "sure man, go ahead"). thanks :) – donkey kong Sep 23 '12 at 9:26
It might be worth cautioning that sometimes 'demo' files go in doc, for example 'test' .bib files can end up there. This may or may not be important. – Joseph Wright Sep 23 '12 at 10:24

Please interpret this answer as having the best possible intention of helping you. :)

Although this doesn't tell you how to do what you've asked for, and although I don't have any idea about your personal "disk space circumstances", I'd strongly recommend pursuing a different solution.

One option is simply "get more disk space"; I accept this may not be an option in your case.

For another approach, you may care to try a tool like WinDirStat (for Windows -- I have no experience of doing this on Linux, though KDE has KDirStat, I think). This will allow you to find the "hot spots" quickly.

Experience suggests that micro-managing space by trimming lots of small files doesn't usually give you a good return for your time, when compared with offloading, say, three films onto an external drive.

My current TeXLive texmf-dist/doc subtree is 1.25 Gb; I think it's worth every byte to have it at my fingertips.

share|improve this answer
I appreciate the advice. Unfortunately my storage is very very limited and I do not have a single movie, photo or song on my computer! :P – donkey kong Sep 24 '12 at 16:59
OK, I understand your predicament :) – Brent.Longborough Sep 24 '12 at 17:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.