I am trying to install a leaner version of texlive. My main requirement is to convert standard article tex files with bibtex bibliographic support to pdf. I use following packages: graphicx, geometry, cite and fontenc.

Of all the Debian Stable packages with 'texlive' in their names, I was thinking of installing following:

texlive-base - TeX Live: Essential programs and files
texlive-fonts-recommended - TeX Live: Recommended fonts
texlive-generic-recommended - TeX Live: Generic recommended packages
texlive-latex-base - TeX Live: LaTeX fundamental packages
texlive-latex-recommended - TeX Live: LaTeX recommended packages
texlive-binaries - Binaries for TeX Live
texlive-plain-extra - TeX Live: Plain TeX packages

And leaving out following:

texlive - TeX Live: A decent selection of the TeX Live packages
texlive-fonts-recommended-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-fonts-recommended
texlive-full - TeX Live: metapackage pulling in all components of TeX Live
texlive-latex-base-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-latex-base
texlive-latex-recommended-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-latex-recommended
texlive-luatex - TeX Live: LuaTeX packages
texlive-metapost - TeX Live: MetaPost and Metafont packages
texlive-metapost-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-metapost
texlive-omega - TeX Live: Omega packages
texlive-pictures - TeX Live: Graphics, pictures, diagrams
texlive-pictures-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-pictures
texlive-xetex - TeX Live: XeTeX and packages
etoolbox - TeX Live: transitional dummy package <<<<<<<<<<< ch; 
texlive-bibtex-extra - TeX Live: BibTeX additional styles
texlive-extra-utils - TeX Live: TeX auxiliary programs
texlive-font-utils - TeX Live: Graphics and font utilities
texlive-fonts-extra - TeX Live: Additional fonts
texlive-fonts-extra-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-fonts-extra
texlive-formats-extra - TeX Live: Additional formats
texlive-games - TeX Live: Games typesetting
texlive-generic-extra - TeX Live: Generic additional packages
texlive-htmlxml - TeX Live: HTML/SGML/XML support
texlive-humanities - TeX Live: Humanities packages
texlive-humanities-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-humanities
texlive-latex-extra - TeX Live: LaTeX additional packages
texlive-latex-extra-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-latex-extra
texlive-music - TeX Live: Music packages
texlive-pstricks - TeX Live: PSTricks
texlive-pstricks-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-pstricks
texlive-publishers - TeX Live: Publisher styles, theses, etc.
texlive-publishers-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-publishers
texlive-science - TeX Live: Mathematics and science packages
texlive-science-doc - TeX Live: Documentation files for texlive-science
texlive-lang-african - TeX Live: African scripts
texlive-lang-all - TeX Live: metapackage depending on all TeX Live language packages
texlive-lang-arabic - TeX Live: Arabic

Will it work? Alternatively, is there any other way to convert standard tex files to pdf?

Thanks for your help.

  • 2
    'Will it work' is a tricky question: the base install will have TeX and LaTeX, but depending on your package use you will need to add 'other stuff'. As with several other questions in this area, if you want a minimised install size you will need to work on it by hand: everyone's requirements are different.
    – Joseph Wright
    Jul 13, 2017 at 17:10
  • I only need to create pdf files from tex (with bibtex support) and I need to use these packages: graphicx, geometry, cite and fontenc.
    – rnso
    Jul 13, 2017 at 17:17
  • 1
    Use trial and error. Install the base system. If a compile fails, find out which LaTeX package was missing, locate the Debian package that contains the missing LaTeX package in your package manager, and install the latter. But if you ask me, that is more trouble than it's worth; just install the whole thing, it doesn't need feeding. Jul 13, 2017 at 17:27
  • 2
    Please note that you also have to consider dependencies.
    – TeXnician
    Jul 13, 2017 at 17:29
  • A minimal TeXlive installation is still in development: tug.org/tug2016/slides/reutenauer-tlm.pdf Jul 13, 2017 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


If you only need the packages mentioned, then your selection is fine, or can even be stripped down by dropping the -plain- packages, as they provide support for the plain TeX format.

If you know the list of files needed, you can check on http://packages.debian.org/ at the bottom of the page, there is a way to search the contents of the packages.

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