To my surprise, I haven't found a question related on this in the search.

There are several possibilities for how one can install packages. For me the best way for installing additional packages in TeXLive is to use tlmgr

The manual page for tlmgr starts with:

tlmgr manages an existing TeX Live installation, both packages and configuration options.

Installing packages is quite easy,

tlmgr install <packagename>

also removing them again:

tlmgr remove <packagename>

So when can one use tlmgr, when should one use it?

What are the biggest advantages apart from straightforwardness of using tlmgr?

What are the possible disadvantages?

What are the most useful commands apart from the standard commands?

Note: The question asks not about the pros and cons of updating per se. As indicated after an edit above, there are still multiple ways to update packages, and people (at least me in the past) are using them all mixed together.

  • 3
    Rather than screwing up the installed TL by manual copying/changing of directories I prefer tlmgr
    – user31729
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 7:57
  • 2
    I suppose one can't use tlmgr to obtain and install a package that's not part of TeXlive...
    – Mico
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 7:58
  • 2
    @jjdb: I found that using the OS distro repository managers the TeX system is not really up-to-date. The TeX packages provided by the OS distrobution are outdated even if the distro ships after TL release. I prefer the net installation and having the full bunch of TL on my disk, the whole nine yards, not just a fragment of possibilities
    – user31729
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 7:59
  • 4
    Now a days users should not need to manually install packages from CTAN (there are rare exceptions where the license is bad for TL). Remember that you cannot really compare linux repos accessed by apt-get with tlmgr as the data in the Linux repos are often out of date and you cannot intall individual packages, tlmgr can.
    – daleif
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 7:59
  • 3
    I don't really see any other methods, if the tex tree is installed by texlive vanilla installation then tlmgr is the only update available, if texlive is repackaged as part of (say) a linux distrib then you should only use that distributions package manager, apt-get or yum or whatever. It doesn't make sense to use a package manager of one system to update another. So "should I use tlmgr" is same as "should I update a package" if you have vanilla texlive. Commented May 8, 2017 at 8:49

1 Answer 1


These methods cannot be compared! tlmgr manages a TeX Live installation as obtained from TUG, while other methods like apt-get manage packages of distributions like Debian, including the packages of TeX Live included in Debian.

Both cannot (or only with very strong restrictions, see user mode) be used together. You have to decide what you want.

The rest is an all time favorite here: should one use the distribution packages of TeX Live or upstream TUG. Depending on your distribution, branch, etc the answer may vary, but from what I know I believe that if you don't have upgraditis then using the distribution packages is completely sufficient.

  • Don't know what you mean? If there are Perl 5.26 incompatibilities then please report them and I'll look into them.
    – norbert
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 1:24
  • What "new stuff" are you talking about?
    – norbert
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 1:24
  • Sorry. I'm confusing a Perl 5.26 issue with the issue I meant to ask you about, which has nothing to do with Perl. This is to do with ncurses. tex.stackexchange.com/questions/281296/…. As comments on the workaround I posted as an answer show, the situation is rather confusing for people. Also, my workaround relies on compiling non-official packages to get backwards compatibility, which always makes things more fragile.
    – cfr
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 1:47
  • That is Arch's job to provide decent libraries. Nothing to do here from our side. Practically all distributions still use ncurses5. And it is absolutely no problem to have V5 and b612 love installed in parallel (only the dev packages cannot be installed parallel). So installing the proper Linds should make xindy workable again.
    – norbert
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 1:54

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