I have a netbook which has about 3-4 gigs of space on it. Since it is a netbook, I didn't want to perform a full install of latex (~1gig) on it. It runs linux.

I was wondering if I could install latex on an external hard drive or perhaps have a light version (quite barebones) of latex which would need me to place packages in my compile directory without having them all.

I have read LaTeX for netbook OSes. However, most of the options available are for compiling in the "cloud" which I don't want as internet access, whilst travelling, is sketchy at best.

This forum post on Installing/running MikTeX on an external harddrive doesn't inspire too much confidence either.

What are my options? Are there any lightweight distributions of latex that I should sudo apt-get with my netbook?

  • How big is too big? If you cut out documentation and languages you don't use then you can get TeXLive down to about 300-400Mb. Nov 7, 2012 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


You mentioned apt-get, so if we're talking about Debian here,

sudo aptitude -R texlive-latex-base

should get you a pretty lightweight selection; -R means don't install (merely) recommended packages.

Have a look here for which Installed sizes to expect (you'd have to add the dependencies' sizes, though).

Also, the TeX Live installer apparently has a -portable option, but I can't comment on that.

Edit The easiest solution would be to dissociate writing and compiling your document. (The most lightweight TeX setup is the one that is not there.)

  • that sounds reasonable at around 9MB. Thanks. I'll try to get this done and update here soon. Yes "The most lightweight TeX setup is the one that is not there", however creating documents and presentations on the go without regular access to a network to sftp figures etc and to compile is rather difficult without a tex installation.
    – dearN
    Nov 7, 2012 at 15:45
  • 1
    You didn't check the dependencies...actually (with 1 level of dependencies), it's roughly 9.9+1.5+30.8+17+0.2. aptitude will tell you how much space would be needed and ask you to confirm the installation.
    – sr_
    Nov 7, 2012 at 15:48
  • My Edit should indicate that in some cases it might be feasibly to write the .tex document on the go and compile it at home/work.
    – sr_
    Nov 7, 2012 at 15:50
  • 181 MB apparently!
    – dearN
    Nov 7, 2012 at 16:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .