Monday, 8 August 2011

tlmgr not available for Ubuntu

One of the hardest things about LaTeX is the way it manages packages. Doing it manually is (in a word) annoying. When I was on windows I loved MikTeX for the ease by which it downloaded and installed extra packages, and I was disappointed when this functionality wasn't available on Ubuntu. Lately though I discovered that TeXlive had a similar package manager called tlmgr, and I started getting excited. When installing TeXlive though, I was dismayed to find that tlmgr did not work. A bit of a google search later I found that this was reason:
There is no way that a second package manager independent of the normal packaging infra structure (apt here, or rpm, or whatever) can work, because it will break the main system.

TeX Live Manager is currently only for system trees. THere is a patch in the dev repository for activating user mode, so that tlmgr can be used to manage TEXMFHOME, but it has not been worked on since quite some time (Norbert Preining on

I take this to mean that there's only room in Ubuntu-town for one package manager, and synaptic is it. This is fair enough I guess, but it is still unfortunate.

Norbert goes on to say "get your hands dirty and help coding!" Unfortunately, my perl is non-existent, so I'll have to give it a miss until such a time as I actually have some idea what I'm doing.


Rupert said...

Sam, I just installed "texlive-full" (which is pretty big). It should have almost everything, or am I missing the point?

Samuel Brown said...

Hi Rupert. Texlive-full indeed has pretty much everything and don't need to worry. However, if you go for less than the complete package, or if you have an older version of texlive and want to update/add some packages, then you need to fuss around with the system. That is where a manager like tlmgr would be useful.

AlfC said...

also, this could be very useful if you are not administrator in the system. HGave tlmgr to install things in your user space.

Don said...

Hi Sam,

Did you find any sort of way around this? I'm using Ubuntu 10.10, with Texlive 2009. Texlive 2009 seems to have some bugs and conflicts with some of my packages (fontspec and Tikz, amongst others), so I'm forced to update. If I can find some way not to uninstall everything and reinstall from source, it'd be nice..

Samuel Brown said...

Hi Don
Thanks for making me look at this again. I tried it out again, and it turns out that tlmgr now works when I sudo it. I believe that I've updated to TexLive 2011 since I wrote this post, so I think (hope?) that's why it now works for me.

You could try downloading the file from the tlmgr homepage, but it might be best just to bite the bullet and download TexLive 2011.

Sorry I can't be of more help.