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How do I install an individual package on a Linux system?

I've had this problem for a while now on Ubuntu. Whenever I have a missing .sty file (right now, it's outlines.sty), I have to go to synaptic and search for the .sty file. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Then, I search for it on this site or some search engine -- all basic adhoc stuff.

I was wondering if there's a regular/reliable way of finding if a .sty file is available for my distro. MikTeX has a great package manager and I wish we have something similar on Ubuntu.

Also, should this be here or on the askubuntu site? I haven't had this issue with any of the rest of Ubuntu so posting it here first.

  • 7
    TeX LIve 2011 has also a package manager. Remove the texlive version of ubuntu und install TeX Live 2011. Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 10:02
  • 4
    ...or if you want to keep your TeXlive 2009, I recommend "sudo apt-get install texlive-full" so you don't have to struggle with uninstalled packages.
    – user2574
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 10:13
  • With recent TL (2010 or 2011) you have tlmgr but you can install manually a package. You go at ctan.org/search then you download the package and you put the files inside a "texmf" folder of your "home". If this folder does not exist, you create it. Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 10:36
  • Closed as a 'reverse dupe': we've now got a proper answer for the general case.
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


You could use apt-cache:

apt-cache search outlines

returns for me

libfont-freetype-perl - Read font files and render glyphs from Perl using FreeType2
texlive-latex-extra - TeX Live: ergänzende Pakete für LaTeX

You can see texlive-latex-extra here (even though it's not installed on my system, as dpkg -l | grep texlive shows - I installed TeX 2011 from tug.org), so outlines.sty may be included in this Ubuntu repository package.

You can find it out in detail by

apt-cache show texlive-latex-extra

which shows the package information, for example:

apt-cache show texlive-latex-extra | grep outline


  courseoutline -- Prepare university course outlines.
  outline -- List environment for making outlines.
  outliner -- Change section levels easily.

You can install it by

sudo apt-get install texlive-latex-extra

Further, you could search and browse package information online, such as on http://packages.debian.org/ with a keyword, for example:

  • 4
    Further to Stefan's answer, you may want to do an "apt-get update" before doing "apt-cache search", and you might want to limit the search to Tex packages by using "apt-cache search outlines | grep texlive". (This is more of a comment really, but somehow I don't see a comment button.) Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 12:46
  • You need 50 reputation before you can comment on all questions/answers. I've flagged this "answer" so that a moderator may convert it to a comment.
    – lockstep
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 12:54
  • @MichaelPalmer Thanks! As suggested, I converted it to a comment.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 13:21
  • @MichaelPalmer: You really want to use aptitude instead of apt-get. Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 13:49
  • 2
    As a last resort, both Debian's and Ubuntu's package sites let you search for particular filenames in packages. For example searching for geometry.sty in oneiric. Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 18:50

Although the outline package is bundled in texlive-latex-extra as shown by @StefanKottwitz, the outlines package is not. It is the outlines package that seems to provide the 'outlines.sty' as referenced in the question.

Since outlines.sty isn't provided in an Ubuntu package, the simplest way to install the outlines latex package is to download it from CTAN (as linked above), and then unzip it into ~/texmf/tex/latex/ or some other place listed in kpsepath tex. If that description didn't make sense, see my blog entry for blow-by-blow details.

This approach is much faster than liberating TeXlive from Ubuntu's package management system, but it doesn't quite get you as far as tlmgr will get you in terms of ease of use if you have a lot of extra packages not bundled with Ubuntu's TeXlive.

  • 1
    It would probably be better to make your local/personal 'texmf' mimic the branches of your normal/system texmf tree. Putting, say, outlines.sty in ~/texmf/tex/latex/outlines/ and outlines.pdf and the README in ~/texmf/doc/latex/outlines (and so on, for more complex packages). This is why .tds.zip files are so great: they unpack into the 'correct' directory hierarchy.
    – jon
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 18:10
  • @Nathan VanHoudnos: do you really mean "cran"? i can't find outlines on cran at all, but it is on ctan. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:32
  • 1
    @wasteofspace Sorry, I meant CTAN. I'm an R user (and CRAN is where all the R packages live), so it came out wrong when I typed it. I'll edit my answer. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 22:25
  • @jon that makes a lot of a sense. I'll update both my answer above and my blog post to reflect that. Thanks! Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 0:10
  • @NathanVanHoudnos -- No problem. Cheers!
    – jon
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 1:21

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