I'm trying to get rid of some junk on my hard drive and want to make sure I don't delete anything vital, so it's probably a dumb question.

In my latex tree there is the texmf-dist/doc folder which is over 2GB in size. Does that contain only documentation? I presume so, and given the fact that I usually look up documentation online I'd like to delete it.

  • 8
    Note that while it is perfectly OK to delete anything on your own machine, you should be careful not to give such a cut down installation to anyone else, the licences on many components of the tex distribution (whether LPPL or GPL or other) often state that source and/or documentation should be distributed with the code. – David Carlisle Sep 23 '12 at 9:41
  • Note that it is possible to install TeX without documentation, as an installation option. – user139954 Dec 12 '17 at 0:34

It's specified by the TeX Directory Structure (TDS):

3 Top-level directories

  • ...
  • doc for user documentation

So, if there would be anything else than documentation, it would be in the wrong place.

Though I consider documentation as very important, I understand that you just change the way of access to online. Just note, that online documentation might not match the versions you have locally installed.

A good source for you: TeXdoc.net, based on TeX Live 2012 and regularly updated. It even offers a "quick search" you could use in the search field at the top right of the Firefox browser.

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  • that's quite an authoritative answer (I was expecting things like: "sure man, go ahead"). thanks :) – donkey kong Sep 23 '12 at 9:26
  • It might be worth cautioning that sometimes 'demo' files go in doc, for example 'test' .bib files can end up there. This may or may not be important. – Joseph Wright Sep 23 '12 at 10:24

Please interpret this answer as having the best possible intention of helping you. :)

Although this doesn't tell you how to do what you've asked for, and although I don't have any idea about your personal "disk space circumstances", I'd strongly recommend pursuing a different solution.

One option is simply "get more disk space"; I accept this may not be an option in your case.

For another approach, you may care to try a tool like WinDirStat (for Windows -- I have no experience of doing this on Linux, though KDE has KDirStat, I think). This will allow you to find the "hot spots" quickly.

Experience suggests that micro-managing space by trimming lots of small files doesn't usually give you a good return for your time, when compared with offloading, say, three films onto an external drive.

My current TeXLive texmf-dist/doc subtree is 1.25 Gb; I think it's worth every byte to have it at my fingertips.

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  • I appreciate the advice. Unfortunately my storage is very very limited and I do not have a single movie, photo or song on my computer! :P – donkey kong Sep 24 '12 at 16:59
  • OK, I understand your predicament :) – Brent.Longborough Sep 24 '12 at 17:29

The post is old, but for actual readers: as far I know, any package update will reinstall them, so deactivate this in your manager. For example "tlmgr option docfiles 0", or option it out in preferences of TexLive Utility.

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