I just stumbled on this blog post about rubber and was thinking: "Isn't that exactly what latexmk does?". So, now I wonder: isn't it? Or are there any differences?


It seems that the rubber has the following features that are not (yet?) offered by latexmk:

  1. Rubber parses the LaTeX log file, filters it, and pretty-prints only "relevant" messages (warnings, errors). Rubber always runs LaTeX in a non-interactive mode, while latexmk seems to require additional switches or configuration.
  2. With rubber you can have configuration options as comments in the LaTeX source code; latexmk requires auxiliary configuration files.
  3. Most importantly, rubber lets you specify the correct values of TEXINPUTS, BIBINPUTS, BSTINPUTS, etc. for each document using the aforementioned configuration options; latexmk seems to expect that these environment variables are already defined appropriately.

Of course many of these issues can be worked around with some wrapper scripts and auxiliary files. And obviously there are many features of latexmk that are not offered by rubber.

  • 1
    To add some news: Rubber v1.2 was released on 2015-06-24. It seems however that for Ubuntu, 1.2 will not be included in 15.04, but 15.10 and further. For more information, see the launchpad of Rubber. Sep 30 '15 at 8:44
  • 1
    One of those "wrapper scripts" for problem 1, is texfot. I actually prefer latexmk not offering this feature, because that meets the Unix philosophy. Jan 29 '17 at 5:50
  • Fedora 27 includes rubber --version 1.4.
    – alfC
    Dec 19 '17 at 7:08
  • 2
    Maintenance: I think the first sentence is not really true anymore as pointed out by others. It is correct that there has been a gap of many years between v1.1 (2006) and v1.2 (2015). But since then there have been several more releases with the currently latest v1.5.1 from September 2018. TEXINPUTS,... you can adjust texinputs for a project directory for latexmk in a latexmkrc file: see tex.stackexchange.com/a/50847/8917.
    – Hotschke
    Oct 25 '18 at 4:48
  • 3
    This answer is from 2011, it is now 2018. Everything in the answer is most likely seriously outdated. Nov 23 '18 at 16:24

One important advantage of latexmk over rubber is that latexmk detects dependent files much more reliably. As best as I have been able to work out, rubber determines the dependent files by parsing the tex file, by looking for \input, \include and \includegraphics macros. But if these macros are buried inside another macro, rubber doesn't detect the dependent files correctly. E.g., if you have


rubber won't detect that sub.tex is a dependent file. Thus if the file sub.tex changes, rubber won't detect that the compilation needs to be run again.

Latexmk instead parses the log file and uses the -recorder option of (pdf)latex to determine the dependent files.


Latexmk also brings an auto-preview feature, which recompiles (smartly) the pdf as soon as the tex is saved.

There are also more advanced features, like tight integration with makefiles for example.

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