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The TeX Live availability page states that installing old versions of TeX Live can be done, and different versions on the same system will not conflict. It provides a link to the historic archive, but no instructions for how to do the installation.

The Quick install for Unix page provides step-by-step instructions, but they do not work when installing older versions. The ./install.tl perl script complains that the repository is of a different version than the script, like so:

./install-tl: The TeX Live versions of the local installation
and the repository being accessed are not compatible:
      local: 2021
 repository: 2023

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Steps

To install the 2021 version of Tex Live on a Unix system, run the following commands. For releases from other years, simply replace 2021 with the desired year.

cd /tmp                                  # or some other working directory
wget https://ftp.math.utah.edu/pub/tex/historic/systems/texlive/2021/tlnet-final/install-tl-unx.tar.gz
zcat < install-tl-unx.tar.gz | tar xf -  # See below about the tar archive name
cd install-tl-20220322/                  # Replace with the directory that zcat/tar actually produced
sudo mkdir /usr/local/texlive
sudo chown $USER /usr/local/texlive      # See below regarding root or group ownership
./install-tl -repository ftp://tug.org/historic/systems/texlive/2021/tlnet-final

Finally, prepend /usr/local/texlive/2021/bin/x86_64-linux (replacing the year and platform as appropriate) to your PATH. You can have multiple versions installed with no problem because each is located entirely within a separate subdirectory: /usr/local/texlive/2020/, /usr/local/texlive/2021/, etc. To switch from one version to another, just change your PATH.

Notes

In the wget command, https://ftp.math.utah.edu/pub/tex/historic is the URL of the mirror for the United States. You should replace it with another mirror if you are downloading TeX Live elsewhere in the world. Other mirrors are shown on the Historic archive page.

If you've been installing multiple versions and have already downloaded another version, then wget may append a number to the name of the tar archive, giving you something like install-tl-unx.tar.gz.2. Be sure to use this name in the zcat line.

In the directory whose name is of the form install-tl-*, the * is the date of the last release of TeX Live of the year in question. Usually this date will be early in the following year.

You do not need to be root to run ./install-tl nor does TeX Live need to be owned by root. You only need a writable directory to install to. By default, ./install-tl installs to /usr/local. Best is to create a group for TeX Live admins, run chgrp to change the group of /usr/local/texlive, add user(s) to the group, and run ./install-tl as one of the users of that group.

./install-tl is a perl script. The original instructions from TUG called perl explicitly to run it. If the last command above doesn't work, try this instead:

perl ./install-tl -repository ftp://tug.org/historic/systems/texlive/2021/tlnet-final
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    Is there some generic mirror one can use rather than connecting to ftp.math.utah.edu?
    – Werner
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 23:12
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    @Werner As far as I can tell, there is no generic mirror. I'll edit the answer right now, though, to include a link to the page listing all the mirrors.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 6:28
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    Why are you calling perl? The install script can be run without that (and on Windows for example it would fail).
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 6:36
  • @JosephWright only because the instructions on the Quick install page include perl explicitly. I was wondering about that.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 6:39
  • I would not use sudo but a writable destination. Doing everything using sudo IMHO is not the very best idea.
    – cabohah
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 6:43

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