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I cannot seem to find these files. I am trying to learn LaTeX again many years after I stopped using it on a regular basis, and wanted to start with these files as a reference.

I have searched with 'find' as well as looking online to see if they are available on a website, but have not yet been able to find them.

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Welcome to TeX.sx! Both can also be found on CTAN: sample2e.tex is available through ctan.org/tex-archive/macros/latex/base/sample2e.tex and small2e.tex through ctan.org/tex-archive/macros/latex/base/small2e.tex – Peter Jansson Feb 6 '13 at 21:12
@PeterJansson more correctly: mirror.ctan.org (no tex-archive) – wasteofspace Sep 15 '14 at 12:12
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You should have a command line tool called kpsewhere that searches the texmf tree. Therefore by

kpsewhere sample2e.tex

it should output the path to sample2e.tex.

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for me it was kpsewhich – Bush Mar 29 '14 at 10:47
Note that kpsewhere is a script that basically calls kpsewhich. – egreg Sep 15 '14 at 11:04

They should be in the core latex distribution so you should be able to go from anywhere

pdflatex sample2e

and the file should latex then sample2e.log should show the directory where it is located.

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