Following the instructions in this page https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LaTeX , I installed TexLive, which needs some 1GB of space (I installed the texlive-full package). Yet, after installation, I don't seem to find any command that seems to represent the TexLive!! Is it the normal tex, latex, pdflatex, etc.? Well, I already had those before installing TexLive? So where was the 1GB installed? What about the packages? Where were they installed?

  • Are you looking in the GNOME menu? All the TeXlive programs are command line programs, and wouldn't show up there. If you want something in the menu, install an editor like texworks, texmaker, kile, etc.
    – frabjous
    Dec 12, 2010 at 17:08
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    Just to make it clear: There is no command “representing” TeX Live. TeX Live is a TeX distribution (just as Ubuntu is a GNU/Linux distribution and there is no ubuntu command). You compile you files with, for example, tex, latex, pdflatex, texexec (ConTeXt), etc.
    – Caramdir
    Dec 12, 2010 at 17:08
  • There is a related question on Ask Ubuntu.
    – Caramdir
    Dec 12, 2010 at 17:10
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    To (slightly) rephrase Caramdir: there is no command "texlive" (just as there is no command "ubuntu"). So, you can't call texlive in Ubuntu (or anywhere else, for that matter). Now, there were TeX shells ("IDE"s) for MS-DOS IIRC, but that's not how Linux works. Dec 12, 2010 at 17:56
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    Further on jae's comment: if you're a typical Linux user, you already have a favorite text editor. Vim and emacs both have very good support for TeX. Dec 12, 2010 at 23:42

2 Answers 2


You could use kpathsea to check the locations.

Type this at the command prompt to get the main path of your TeX installation:

kpsewhich --var-value=TEXMFMAIN

kpsewhich can provide more information, just type kpsewhich --help to learn more about it.

Further you could use the which tool to locate executables:

which tex

You may also check the versions of TeX, pdfTeX, LaTeX etc.:

tex -version
latex -version

All can be done at the command prompt, i.e. within a terminal window.

Further there are of course package managing tools of your distribution for look-up which packages are installed - Synaptic, dpkg-query -l etc.

If you're still not sure: just go ahead, compile a LaTeX file. Afterwards read the first line of the .log file produced by LaTeX, within the same directory. The first line may look like:

This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-1.40.10 (Web2C 2009) (format=pdflatex 2010.6.25)
12 DEC 2010 16:47

So you know if you're using a current version. The package manager which you used for installation should have taken care of all, so texlive would be used. The questions 'What' and 'Where' can be answered by the mentioned kpsewhich, using various parameters, which does path look-up and file-look-up and presents the actually 'active' file.

  • 1) So what about TexLive? 2) What does TEXMFMAIN mean?
    – Rafid
    Dec 12, 2010 at 15:32
  • @Rafid: did you try kpsewhich? I would expect that the path name output would contain texlive and 2009, thus you would know what's installed and active. To learn about TEXMFMAIN and the other paths, type kpsewhich -all texmf.cnf which gives you the names of configuration files. Have a look into these files.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Dec 12, 2010 at 15:52
  • I tried it, and changed to the directory given (which is /usr/share/texmf). What I see is: bibtex, context, doc, dvips, fonts, hbf2gf, ls-R, metafont, metapost, scripts, tex, tex4ht, web2c. However, in the parent directory (/usr/share) I do see: tex-common, texinfo, texlive-base, texlive-bin, texmf, texmf-texlive. I never found the folder 2009 by the way. So what you want to say is that I should go straight away and use latex, pdflatex, etc., and it should start seeing the packaged installed by texlive-full?
    – Rafid
    Dec 12, 2010 at 16:41
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    It looks like you have successfully installed TeXLive. You already had the basic tex commands before, I believe they are part of almost every linux install, since linux uses them to generate certain parts of its documentation. What you have installed with texlive-full is all the additional formats (for example context), latex packages, a lot of documentation, lots of fonts, and some additional supporting programs. Just go ahead and start using the various tex executables, everything you need should be installed. Dec 12, 2010 at 16:55
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    @Rafid: Like Jan said: go ahead... perhaps check the first line in the produced log file - I added information to my answer.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Dec 12, 2010 at 17:11

If you installed texlive from the Ubuntu repositories, the executables are in /usr/bin while the documentation for the various packages are in /usr/share/doc/....

You may want to install the more updated version from the TeX Users Group, but then you must remember to add the path of the executables to your system then. Read the installation documentation for more information.

  • 1) I don't see 'texlive' in /usr/bin. And if I use whereis texlive (or tex-live), I get nothing! 2) What is TUG?
    – Rafid
    Dec 12, 2010 at 16:43

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