I have an old computer (Windows XP Pro x64) with LaTeX (MiKTeX 2.9) installed and setup as I want it. I have a new computer (same operating system), and I want to be able to transfer MiKTeX to the new machine without having to reinstall MiKTeX .

Is there a simple way to do this?

Neither machine has internet connection.

  • It doesn’t work without a reinstall, but you can use the already installed package base, see Relocate MiKTeX 2.9?. – Speravir Aug 28 '12 at 22:00
  • UPDATE NOTE For new user clarity this Question and the Answers below are for migrating an installed version from one machine / drive to another which can normally be done with specialist migration tools It does not apply to Portable MiKTeX which can be easily moved between drives, windows versions or windows machines especially if it is the universal 32bit version (one size fits all). – user170109 May 20 '19 at 13:49

Short Answer: No.

A little longer one:

Windows needs to copy special files (for example dll files) deep into the system of windows (c:\...\system32 or c:\..\Program). The names of the used directorys can differ on several computers. Windows does also store a lot of information in the registry, very relevant to get a running system.

Conclusion: to get a running system with windows install all the programs (for example: Viewer: SumatraPDF or Acrobat, distribution: MiKTeX, editor: TeXnicCenter) you need.

So you can do (because the second computer has no internet): Download with the MiKTeX installer the complete MiKTeX in a directory. Update these directory (have a look in the MiKTeX manual) to get the actual system and copy this directory to the second computer and install MikTeXfrom there. If possible copy the configuration of your editor (TeXnicCenter uses tco files for example) to restore it after you have installed pdf viewer, MiKTeX and editor.

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  • Oh, how could I miss that: MiKTeX doesn’t write anything into C:\Windows or subfolders. The problem is, that it uses the registry (what you already mentioned) unless it is the portable version. Also the system menu entries are not installed with the portable mode. (Actually I don’t understand your remark about installation of all programs: There are a lot of portable programs, which function fine.) – Speravir Aug 31 '12 at 20:14
  • Forgotten: MiKTeX also adds its binary subfolder to the system path. For the portable version this works only, if every binary is started from the internal command prompt or by means of a special start batch file. – Speravir Aug 31 '12 at 20:32

In the past MiKTeX was what would be called nowadays a "sandbox" system. And it was possible to do what you want to do - simply copy it from machine to machine and reconfigure the local paths in miktex.ini. (at least with 2.3)

Should it not be possible with MiKTeX 2.9 to configure a "portable" version (as advertised, it is supposed to run on a datastick and leave no trace on a host machine). Then instead of using a datastick, copy it onto the system(s) you wish to use.

If you installed it non-portable, then "no" follows. But doesn't initexmf have a "portable" option - to create a portable setup?

re: the "no" answer - I'm curious what dlls are copied to windows system directories - is there documentation somewhere (or code?). The "normal" version makes entries to the windows registry (which 'imho' was a not so great design choice) - which would break any reinstall on seperate machines. A list of such dlls etc. would help me out since I'm currently grappling with the same issue. (Only -iywk - right now I'm stuck on font map files.)

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I agree with this answer: As far as I see there’s no way of migration without any re-installation. And allow me also a remark: You will need one computer with (perhaps only temporary) access to the Internet.

With the approach, I already described in Relocate MiKTeX 2.9?, you can use the package base of your old MiKTeX installation. I don’t know, whether it works with a net drive, but you could mount the drive of the old computer to a local drive, too. Later you can use MiKTeX’ own update system, if you do at least a temporary connection to the Internet.

If you do not want any access to the Internet for your new computer, it gets more complicated:
You need a third computer with (temporary) access. On that computer download the whole MiKTeX repository to a local folder. The best would be putting this folder on a removable disk, but later burning of an DVD-RW is possible as well. The download can be done with the net installer, if you change the installation setting from default to "Download MikTeX" and select then "Complete MikTeX". After choosing the nearest CTAN mirror and download folder the download starts. It can take several hours depending on the connection speed. Later for performing updates of this repository rsync is highly recommended, see rsync in the English Wikipedia for software suggestions, or at least wget with its timestamp option.

When you start installation with the net installer on your offline pc, choose first installation from a local repository and select then the folder of the portable drive or DVD (especially do not choose “CD/DVD”, that’s only for shipped DVD’s from the developer). Attention, this path is saved in MiKTeX settings!

You should later perform updates for MiKTeX on your offline-pc on a regular basis for bugfixes and new packages.

If also on computer with internet connection MiKTeX is installed, updates should be done with the local repository, too. This saves a lot of bandwidth.

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