How can I succesfully install texlive on my USB hard drive?

I try to install texlive with debian on a USB harddrive for dual-boot usage. Therefore I change the installation properties: the path is set to /media/user/drivename/texlive/2017. I also let windows binaries be installed. However, the installer fails. I tried other configurations too: portable, only /media/.../texlive as path.

Trying to install with standard configuration seems fine, I have let the installer do its work until "Installing acmart", at last it would have stopped at a2ping.x86_64-linux, which was installed with standard config here.

Permissions are drwxrwxrwx for the texlive folder structure. I can touch files and make folders as user and as root on the usb drive. The perl version is 5.24.1.

Google let me down this time...

root@pc:/home/<user>/Downloads/install-tl-20180104# ./install-tl --profile installation.profile
ABORTED TL INSTALLATION FOUND: installation.profile (in /home/<user>/Downloads/install-tl-20180104)
Do you want to continue with the exact same settings as before (y/N): N
Automated TeX Live installation using profile: installation.profile
Loading http://ctan.math.washington.edu/tex-archive/systems/texlive/tlnet/tlpkg/texlive.tlpdb
Installing TeX Live 2017 from: http://ctan.math.washington.edu/tex-archive/systems/texlive/tlnet (verified)
Platform: x86_64-linux => 'GNU/Linux on x86_64'
Distribution: net  (downloading)
Using URL: http://ctan.math.washington.edu/tex-archive/systems/texlive/tlnet
Directory for temporary files: /tmp/cYINAomrRd
Installing to: /media/<user>/<drivename>/texlive/2017
Installing [0001/3717, time/total: ??:??/??:??]: 12many [376k]
tar: tex/latex/12many/12many.sty: Cannot change ownership to uid 0, gid 0: Operation not permitted
tar: tlpkg/tlpobj/12many.tlpobj: Cannot change ownership to uid 0, gid 0: Operation not permitted
tar: Exiting with failure status due to previous errors    
untar: untarring /tmp/cYINAomrRd/HLBVkLBWTZ/12many.tar failed (in /media/<user>/<drivename>/texlive/2017/texmf-dist)
TLPDB::_install_package: untar failed
Installation failed.
Rerunning the installer will try to restart the installation.
Or you can restart by running the installer with:
  install-tl --profile installation.profile [EXTRA-ARGS]
./install-tl: Writing log in current directory: /home/<user>/Downloads/install-tl-20180104/install-tl.log
  • Have you tried installing to your Linux home folder, then copying the installation to USB?
    – user139954
    Jan 13, 2018 at 15:48
  • No, I try it out now. Jan 13, 2018 at 15:53
  • I installed with portable option as user and copied the folder. cp -r texlive /media/user/drivename/. I got several cp: cannot create symbolic link /media/user/drivename/texlive/2017/bin/x86_64-linux/packagename Function not implemented warnings. Jan 13, 2018 at 18:45
  • Unfortunate. Works on Windows. Seems that the underlying problem has to do with the Linux symbolic links (which have a different format than Windows "shortcut" files).
    – user139954
    Jan 13, 2018 at 21:34
  • I read that I should use FAT32 for partitioning the usb drive. However, for sharing virtual drives I later changed to exFAT. Now I read that unix links are not supported on FAT partitions. This might be the issue... I try later, but that needs time. Jan 13, 2018 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


In the end I installed TexLive on my Linux folder and copied the data to the USB drive. The links that cannot be created on a FAT drive were followed to get a working system. This may fail if I do updates in the future.

./install-tl -portable 
cp -rL 2019 /mnt/d/texlive/2019
# ..and deleted the folder after successful copy. 
  • Did you do anything about the permissions? Jan 16, 2020 at 9:42

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