The question is somewhat technical and not the usual troubleshooting type I see here. I just want to have a basic understanding of how do TeX Live, the core operative system and the latex editor work with each other? For example, my configuration is like

TeX 3.1415926 (TeX Live 2009/Debian) kpathsea version 5.0.0 Copyright 2009 D.E. Knuth.

Kile 2.1.0

Linux Mint 13

For some files, the compilation command from Kile (Alt+2) and the terminal command (latex <<filename>>) give somewhat different results, even though the later is more detailed in its report. I want to know what are the roles of my editor and the terminal in the whole process and whether the two compilations are equivalent in all respects? Any link to a tutorial of some sort will be helpful. I have undergrad computer science background.

  • 5
    Are they both using the same installation of TeX? It's not unknown for a GUI to pick a different installation from the one on the PATH for the Terminal.
    – Joseph Wright
    Dec 3, 2013 at 7:16
  • 1
    TeX Live is an aggregation of many engines, formats, macro packages and documentations etc. Your GUI editor calls a certain engine, loads selected format(s) and package(s), and then typesets your document. If you did install different TeX distributions and your editor picks one and your terminal picks the other one, the output could be different. BTW, are you sure that <Alt + 2> in Kile means starting LaTeX, rather than pdfLaTeX or XeLaTeX?
    – Ch'en Meng
    Dec 3, 2013 at 8:13
  • @Ch'enMeng By default when pressing Alt+2 Kile executes latex -src-specials -interaction=nonstopmode %source.
    – d-cmst
    Dec 3, 2013 at 8:21
  • @dcmst Then I think the OP has two or more TeX installations on his/her OS. :)
    – Ch'en Meng
    Dec 3, 2013 at 8:35
  • How do I know whether Kile and the terminal are using two different tex installations and how to resolve the issue? I installed texlive-full from terminal and kile separately. Does Kile come with its own compiler, in which case texlive is redundant?
    – Della
    Dec 4, 2013 at 3:54

1 Answer 1


LaTeX GUIs simply call the appropriate command line tool to do typesetting: from the point of view of your TeX system (probably TeX Live or MiKTeX), the fact that the call comes from a GUI rather than from the command line is irrelevant.

However, what can vary between the command line and a GUI, or indeed between GUIs, is the search path used. Some editors allow you to specify additional/alternative paths to the one which is active at the command line. This can result in different outcomes if you have more than one TeX system installed. Typically, the way to diagnose this is to loo at the .log files the two processes produce. The first thing that is written to the log is a banner, for example

pdfTeX 3.1415926-2.5-1.40.14 (TeX Live 2013)

This tells you the name of the engine you have used and the TeX system it is linked to: if your paths are 'correct' you should get the same result for the command line and from a GUI.

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