What would be the easiest way to copy a TeXLive installation from one computer to another?

I'm going to set up a new laptop to be a replacement for this machine, and I'd prefer not to have to download the full set of packages for TL2011, mainly because waiting for the download is so time-consuming; I've already done it once.

EDIT: I'm using Arch Linux and installing TeXLive using tl-install / tlmgr rather than Arch's packages.

EDIT II: Would it be advisable to make a backup of an existing install on the source machine, use install-tl to install a minimal version on the target machine, copy the backup(s) to the target machine, and then restore those backups using tlmgr?

  • 3
    The answer depends on the OS you use, please provide information.
    – Keks Dose
    Sep 11, 2011 at 14:06
  • 2
    Waiting for the download compared to waiting for answers. I would pick the former, since that will guarantee a successful installation.
    – Werner
    Sep 11, 2011 at 14:56
  • If you are a TUG member you should shortly receive the TeX Live 2011 DVD: install from that and then there is just a round of updates to do.
    – mas
    Sep 11, 2011 at 18:51

3 Answers 3


If you're on Linux and use install-tl, you can simply rsync the whole directory to the new machine and update the PATH.

  • Simple enough then: I could just run tlmgr path add to restore the symlinks, couldn't I?
    – Robbie
    Sep 12, 2011 at 14:45
  • Ah, never used that, I'll have to try :-)
    – raphink
    Sep 12, 2011 at 14:52

I tend to install TL in /opt/texlive/<year>, and adjusting my system such that this path comes first in the system PATH. Then it is easy to copy the entire installation to a different linux PC, just copy /opt/texlive. For our diskless server installation we simply NFS mount the LaTeX installation, thus only one source to update.

  • How do you install TL in that directory?
    – NVaughan
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:20
  • 1
    @NVaughan make the dir, make sure to change the ownership to yourself and ask the installer to install in the folder. It is quite easy.
    – daleif
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:22
  • Thanks. Which of these directories? I'm confused. i.imgur.com/f6M3uxV.png
    – NVaughan
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:25
  • 1
    @NVaughan texdir (it is even easier using the gui installer). If /opt/texlive/ exists, and is writable by you, change texdir to /opt/texlive/2017
    – daleif
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:27

Here's what we use for unattended installs of TeX Live 2011 on Windows. The included profile may not match your particular preferences, but it's the quickest thing I can find. You might also find the profile for your current installation in tlpkg/texlive.profile in the TeX Live installation folder.

Run the following command

install-tl.bat -repository http://mirror.host/path/to/texlive/tlnet -no-gui -profile path\to\texlive-2011.profile

with the following texlive.profile (or one of your own):

# texlive.profile written on Fri Jul 29 19:52:14 2011 UTC
# It will NOT be updated and reflects only the
# installation profile at installation time.
selected_scheme scheme-full
TEXDIR C:/texlive/2011
TEXMFCONFIG ~/.texlive2011/texmf-config
TEXMFLOCAL C:/texlive/texmf-local
TEXMFSYSCONFIG C:/texlive/2011/texmf-config
TEXMFSYSVAR C:/texlive/2011/texmf-var
TEXMFVAR ~/.texlive2011/texmf-var
binary_win32 1
collection-basic 1
collection-bibtexextra 1
collection-binextra 1
collection-context 1
collection-documentation-arabic 1
collection-documentation-base 1
collection-documentation-bulgarian 1
collection-documentation-chinese 1
collection-documentation-czechslovak 1
collection-documentation-dutch 1
collection-documentation-english 1
collection-documentation-finnish 1
collection-documentation-french 1
collection-documentation-german 1
collection-documentation-italian 1
collection-documentation-japanese 1
collection-documentation-korean 1
collection-documentation-mongolian 1
collection-documentation-polish 1
collection-documentation-portuguese 1
collection-documentation-russian 1
collection-documentation-serbian 1
collection-documentation-slovenian 1
collection-documentation-spanish 1
collection-documentation-thai 1
collection-documentation-turkish 1
collection-documentation-ukrainian 1
collection-documentation-vietnamese 1
collection-fontsextra 1
collection-fontsrecommended 1
collection-fontutils 1
collection-formatsextra 1
collection-games 1
collection-genericextra 1
collection-genericrecommended 1
collection-htmlxml 1
collection-humanities 1
collection-langafrican 1
collection-langarabic 1
collection-langarmenian 1
collection-langcjk 1
collection-langcroatian 1
collection-langcyrillic 1
collection-langczechslovak 1
collection-langdanish 1
collection-langdutch 1
collection-langenglish 1
collection-langfinnish 1
collection-langfrench 1
collection-langgerman 1
collection-langgreek 1
collection-langhebrew 1
collection-langhungarian 1
collection-langindic 1
collection-langitalian 1
collection-langlatin 1
collection-langlatvian 1
collection-langlithuanian 1
collection-langmongolian 1
collection-langnorwegian 1
collection-langother 1
collection-langpolish 1
collection-langportuguese 1
collection-langspanish 1
collection-langswedish 1
collection-langtibetan 1
collection-langturkmen 1
collection-langvietnamese 1
collection-latex 1
collection-latexextra 1
collection-latexrecommended 1
collection-luatex 1
collection-mathextra 1
collection-metapost 1
collection-music 1
collection-omega 1
collection-pictures 1
collection-plainextra 1
collection-pstricks 1
collection-publishers 1
collection-science 1
collection-texinfo 1
collection-texworks 1
collection-wintools 1
collection-xetex 1
in_place 0
option_autobackup 1
option_backupdir tlpkg/backups
option_desktop_integration 1
option_doc 1
option_file_assocs 1
option_fmt 1
option_letter 0
option_path 1
option_post_code 1
option_src 1
option_sys_bin /usr/local/bin
option_sys_info /usr/local/info
option_sys_man /usr/local/man
option_w32_multi_user 1
option_write18_restricted 1
portable 0

This doesn't really say how to copy the installation, but if you can find your profile, it does ensure you set things up the same way. And for us, TeX Live 2011 only takes around 20 minutes to install over the network.

  • > "And for us, TeX Live 2011 only takes around 20 minutes to install over the network." Wow! Could you please add your connection speed? That is probably the limiting factor (and yours seems to be much higher than my 256 kB/s).
    – Stephen
    Sep 11, 2011 at 18:07
  • Local mirror at work/school, though our Internet speed is probably high enough to not require the local mirror any more. If your connection speed is that low, I'd consider finding somewhere with a faster connection, and burning a DVD there. Sep 11, 2011 at 18:58
  • That's what I did. Just wanted to point out that a local mirror or high-speed internet cannot be assumed to be available for everyone everywhere. Until the beginning of this year I was stuck with effective 5 kB/s, and I presume that there are a lot of places around the world where fast internet just isn't available. (OK, via satellite link-down and link-up, but that might be too expensive, or even illegal in some countries.)
    – Stephen
    Sep 12, 2011 at 8:37

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