On CentOS 7 I have installed TeX Live 2019 via CLI by running install-tl from an ISO image. This install was identified as x86_64-linux and finished successfully.

Now, I want to activate the symlinks to the standard directories, so that I do not have to add the TeX directories to my environments variables.

How can I run the installer just with the "Create symlinks to standard directories" option without re-installing everything?

Bonus question: What exactly does the "Create symlinks to standard directories" option on the x86_64-linux platform do?

  • why do you want the symlinks (especially in view of your bonus question) when the texlive maintainers recommend not doing that and just setting the path? Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 7:59
  • When you have installed texlive, latex is not in your path yet (programmes are looked up through the ath variable). You either have to add texlive to the path manually (recommended) or you can have texlive add shortcuts (softlinks) from usr/local/bin (I think) to where latex and friends are. This can be tempting, but is easily forgotten later on especially if you do know what softlinks are. Therefore the recommended method is to manually add texlive to env variables as it is a lot safer.
    – daleif
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 8:09
  • Why are softlinks bad. Assume you use softlinks for tl19, tl20 comes along, you attempt to add softlinks again, but they are already there pointing somewhere else and you'll have to remove them manually.
    – daleif
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 8:11
  • @DavidCarlisle I like symlinks better than even more additions to PATH, etc.
    – halloleo
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 8:18
  • @daleif I do know what symlinks are and they are pretty clearly visible in the filesystem. Therefor I would like to know what symlinks does install-tl set via the "Create symlinks" option.
    – halloleo
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


From all the comments to the question and my experience after using them I write up an answer:

If you want to create symlinks to standard directories after the install, do not try to run the install script install-tl, but rather use the native TeX Live manager tlmgr.

tlmgr path add

will attempt to symlink to standard directories. You need the necessary access rights, so normally you will incorporate root via sudo.

To the bonus question:

Using tlmgr path add, what does it do exactly? It will link the individual executables, man pages and info files into the standard directories.(*) What are the standard directories tlmgr uses? Find out via

tlmgr option sys_bin
tlmgr option sys_man
tlmgr option sys_info

A word of caution

Because tlmgr does link many individual files it might be hard to track down broken symlinks later on when you upgrade TeX Live to a newer version. Therefore make sure before upgrading to remove the old symlinks (tlmgr path remove) then install the new TeX Live and finally to add the symlinks.

(*) The reason why tlmgr has to link individual files and cannot simply link the directory is that Linux cannot do something like "merge-linking" a directory into another directory.

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