I use TeXnicCenter and portable MiKTeX. Are there some internal dependencies between MiKTeX and BibTeX or can I safely delete it?

Thank you for your help and effort in advance!

  • 1
    What's the motivation for this query? Hard disk storage is really, really cheap these days, and deleting all files in question won't free up a lot of space. In short, why bother? – Mico May 8 at 22:43
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    bibtex isn't very big do you really need to save the space? Many (most) journals will accept bibtex generated bibliographies rather than biblatex ones, so it's wide to keep bibtex even if you use biber in preference – David Carlisle May 8 at 22:44
  • Hello @Mico and @David Carlisle! Thank you for the comments! The space isn't relevant. It's just interesting for me, how deep is BibTeXfixed in my distribution. On the other hand I bother to keep clean my distribution. Well, I agree, maybe it's a bit to much effort. – Su-47 May 9 at 0:44
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    Just an advice: don't do it! – CarLaTeX May 9 at 3:24
up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you use biblatex together with Biber, bibtex (i.e. bibtex.exe) is not needed any more. You could use biblatex together with bibtex via the backend=bibtex option, but that is general not recommended because some functions depend on the Biber backend, and so bibtex is considered a 'legacy backend' for biblatex now.

In theory, then you could delete bibtex and your bibliographies would continue to work. There is no hard dependency in MikTeX on the program layer that would require bibtex be installed. Unfortunately, though, the package miktex-bibtex-bin-... is marked as 'required', so it will always be installed again whenever you run the updater. So you can remove bibtex, but it will be re-installed after an update. Of course you can then remove it again.

But you don't really save a lot of space if you delete bibtex. The bibtex binary comes in the package miktex-bibtex-bin-x64-2.9 on my system and is not even 300 KB (that's right kilobytes) heavy, the standard .bst styles and documentation live in the MikTeX package bibtex with a bit more than double the size at about 640 KB. So overall you hardly manage to scrape together 1 MB of saves. That's not really an overwhelming result.

On the other hand, if you delete bibtex, you can't produce bibliographies with normal .bst styles any more. What if someone sends you their document using plain.bst? You should also keep in mind that the publishing industry has not (fully) embraced biblatex (yet?, at all?). Many journals that accept .tex submission do not or can not accept bibliographies produced with biblatex. Some journals even offer .bst files that you should use. See Biblatex: submitting to a journal. Even the arXiv, undoubtedly one of the more progressive outlets, makes it much easier to submit BibTeX-generated bibliographies. biblatex submissions are possible, mind you, but they require fiddling and going back to outdated releases of biblatex and Biber.

So all in all: Yes in theory, it is possible to get rid of bibtex if you only ever use biblatex with Biber, but it is not worth the hassle (1MB, one .exe, a couple of .pdf and .bst files saved) and puts limits on how you collaborate with others or how you publish your work. So I close with CarLaTeX's advice: don't do it!

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