I am currently giving a LaTeX course for students. Most linux users have TeX Live 2009 installed which is much too old, since I want to use biblatex and biber. If they install TeX Live from the website they can not access it because the PATH is not set up correctly.

I now found out that one can solve this by adding the PATH


to .bashrc and .profile. However I wonder if this could be configured for all users?

Furthermore I have a problem with the mac users. pdflatex starts from within TeXShop, but is not found from any other editor. We use TeXstudio for example. Any hint what could be wrong there?


To make that global, you have to configure it globally. As root, add the PATH statement either:

  • to a file under /etc/profile.d (if that directory exists), as Herbert suggests, or
  • to /etc/profile

This actually turns out to be a Unix question.

  • For OSX you should add the paths as a set of symlinks in /etc/paths.d and /etc/manpaths.d. With FreeBSD and other Unices, you have to do something different again... – Charles Stewart Oct 25 '11 at 9:08
  • @CharlesStewart On the other hand, MacTeX does this during its installation. – egreg Oct 25 '11 at 12:53
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    @CharlesStewart The paths in /etc/paths.d aren't symbolic links. They are just snippets of text that get appended to the main path. MacTeX creates the file /usr/paths.d/TeX which contains simply the string "/usr/texbin". – Alan Munn Oct 25 '11 at 13:47
  • @Alan: Ah, it has been a long time since I messed about with that. It is just the same as /etc/profile.d, except of course OSX has to be gratuitously different. Thanks for the correction. – Charles Stewart Oct 26 '11 at 11:56
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    @CharlesStewart There is no different file hierarchy: MacTeX installs TeX Live in /usr/local/texlive/<year> exactly like it's on Linux boxes (with manual installation) and it does automatic configuration for all users. – egreg Oct 26 '11 at 12:08

Since all machines run Unix/Linux, you can also do a shared NFS install: Install TL once on a server and share the installation via NFS. OpenSUSE has a package for that (texlive-nfs), TL2011 is somewhere in factory.

  • The university has no centralized server system for students and if I configure such a server it will be available within my institute, but not for the students. Anyway I would like to have something that works on the computer of the students not only within the university network. – Matthias Pospiech Oct 25 '11 at 11:12

On Linux I'd suggest to include the necessary paths to the /etc/environment file. You have to edit that file as root. Here is mine:


Note that you'll may have problems updating TeX Live with tlmgr. Use the env command to change running environment for tlmgr. For example:

sudo env PATH="$PATH" tlmgr --gui

For the tlmgr GUI probably you'll have to install Perl/Tk.

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