For installing Tex Live by apt-get in Ubuntu, we have two options: basic and full. I installed Tex Live from source. The installed folder is 3.1GB with 104,030 files. Obviously this full version contains lots of packages that I do not need. The first drawback is large number of files which can slow down the OS (though it is negligible for ex4).

My question is: Does Tex Live deal with packages individually without connecting to others? Does the speed and resource usage of basic and full versions are the same?

I think packages are not part of an installed software; but they are source files which will be read when needed. Am I right?

Are there tips and considerations to assure best performance of Tex Live on heavy loads?

  • 2
    See this question: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1092/… By installing vanilla TeX Live (not the one in Ubuntu repositories) you can use tlmgr to select the packages you want to install.
    – qubyte
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 4:32
  • 3
    What exactly do you mean with heavy load? If you're on a single-user system then I think your best choice is installing the full version of TeX Live.
    – user10274
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:47
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    This is TeX we're talking about here. It's basically a big cuddly toy bear. It takes up a lot of space, sure, but space is cheap and TeX is completely benign (yes, I did just say that). Nothing is a plugin in the sense you mean. It's all just macro packages and the occasional binary. It's about as dangerous as 3GB of home video.
    – qubyte
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:51
  • 1
    Tex is worth of offering 3TB, but sacrificing the performance is always dangerous. I got your point now, and think that such powerful macros can be my friend one day; but never foe :)
    – Googlebot
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:57
  • 4
    You seem to be asking whether or not having unused packages affects the speed with which TeX works. This can only affect the lookup time for packages which is handled by the kpathsea part so you can test this by timing its lookups directly. I'd be amazed if you spot anything. I get about 100,000 files in a full TL2011 install. For comparison, I have 30,000 files in a single directory on a webserver with no appreciable delay on serving the files. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 9:06

1 Answer 1


TeXLive is big, but not enormously so by today's standards.

I would strongly recommend installing and maintaining the full distribution; otherwise you'll likely waste a lot of your time installing packages "as you discover them".

This way, you'll be able to "carry on writing" without interrupting the flow.

  • you're quite right, and this is what I will do!
    – Googlebot
    Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 23:40

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