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First time I saw tlmgr: Remote repository is newer than local (2017 < 2018) I was surprised because my OS is less than a week old, but sometimes the repositories are out of date so did sudo apt purge texlive, then went to the recommended download site, got install-tl-unx.tar.gz and ran through the script. Seems fine, definitely compiles stuff.

Now to try an install a package, I do sudo tlmgr update --self and get back tlmgr: Remote repository is newer than local (2017 < 2018)

So my texlive is 100% definitely 2018, but somehow my tlmgr is still 2017? (overleaf is looking better and better....) how do I properly diagnose/resolve this?

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    Could you please verify that you really ran tlmgr from the fresh installation and not some different tlmgr binary? – TeXnician Nov 5 '18 at 16:28
  • @TeXnician Um, not sure how? which tlmgr returns /usr/bin/tlmgr and the new install is located in /usr/local/texlive/2018. – Clumsy cat Nov 5 '18 at 16:32
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    Could you do a file /usr/bin/tlmgr? Where does it point to? – TeXnician Nov 5 '18 at 16:35
  • @TeXnician oh it goes to /usr/bin/tlmgr: symbolic link to ../share/texlive/texmf-dist/scripts/texlive/tlmgr.pl. That is probably a remnant of a previous install... – Clumsy cat Nov 5 '18 at 16:38
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    Yes, it is. You should really clean that up and then run tlmgr path add with the new tlmgr. – TeXnician Nov 5 '18 at 18:02
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So to follow up the answer was that sudo apt purge texlive did not remove the previous tlmgr. Perhaps it was overzealous but I decided to apt purge anything related to latex, then manually remove anything still remaining. Then I ran the install-tl-unx.tar.gz script and tlmgr is working fine.

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