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I'm working on a paper with a collaborator and I've noticed that the number of overfull boxes is different whether I compile the document or he does. It's also not the same whether I compile it from my laptop or from my desktop computer at the university.

My guess is that this is due to the different versions of our tex distributions. For example, on the desktop computer the version of pdftex is 3.14159265-2.6-1.40.15 (TeX Live 2015/dev/Debian), whereas on my laptop it's 3.14159265-2.6-1.40.19 (TeX Live 2019/dev/Debian). We compile with pdflatex.

I suppose the problem is not just about the bad boxes, the whole pdf document produced is different. I am quite bothered by this because I didn't realize until now that our paper could look different depending on where it was last compiled.

What's the most sensible way to deal with this?

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    Look in the .log files to see if you have different versions of any packages. There should be a list of all the packages loaded near the start of the log file. There is a four year age difference between your two versions of TeXLive - it's not surprising that something has changed in that time.
    – alephzero
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 15:17
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    Maybe that, more than TeX version, this is due to the difference in versions of some packages. I think you should update the older TeX Live versions. Which version does your collaborator use?
    – Bernard
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 15:18
  • Can you check if you have the same default paper size? Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 15:51
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    The tex version is highly unlikely to be the cause of any differences. Add \listfiles to the preamble and compare the file list that this inserts at the end of each log. Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 16:01
  • Thank you for suggestions. I added \listfiles in the preamble and was able to compare the file lists. There are indeed many packages that have newer versions on my laptop. Now what? Do I ask the IT guy to update Tex Live on my desktop computer and tell my collaborator to do the same?
    – Seub
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 20:04

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