[tex-live] Messed up TL installation

Axel E. Retif axel.retif at mac.com
Thu Oct 20 00:40:46 CEST 2011

On 10/19/2011 02:22 PM, Haines Brown wrote:


> I read it to
> mean remove texlive 2009, which as you surmise did mess a lot of
> things up so badly that perhaps the only way out is to reinstall
> debian from scratch.

Maybe. But try reinstalling first TeXLive from Debian and see if your 
system returns to a stable condition; otherwise, yes, do a reinstall.


> When you say "prepend to PATH", do you refer to the point at which the
> CTAN install-tl asks for TEXDIR etc. directories?

No, what he meant is this: read


	Make sure your path is set up correctly and points to the TeX
	Live binaries (regardless of whether you are in a shell, a X
	session, etc.) You can set it system-wide in /etc/profile and

That's what I did in Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) and it worked fine 
(now I'm back to Ubuntu [11.10], where I use /etc/environment).

Be careful when setting the path: the best is to drag the directory 
containing the binaries to a terminal window, and then copy the path:


In /etc/login.defs you'll see something like this:

	ENV_SUPATH	PATH=/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:
	ENV_PATH	PATH=/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:

Prepending your path means putting the TeXLive binaries path *before* 
/usr/local/sbin (in ENV_SUPATH) and /usr/local/bin (in ENV_PATH). *Don't 
forget* to put a colon (:) *after* /usr/local/...-linux:

The same with /etc/profile, but the respective lines don't start with 
ENV_SUPATH and ENV_PATH (unfortunately, Ubuntu's /etc/profile is 
different from Debian's, and I can't remember exactly how those lines 
are, but you'll find them really easily. (In fact, I tried and just 
setting the path in /etc/profile is enough, but I ended adding it to 
/etc/login.defs as well.)

Restart for the changes to take effect.

I don't recommend changing the ownership of /usr/local/texlive to you 
---I always leave it as root.

Now ---in Debian use

	su -	<enter> and your password when prompted

to be able to use tlmgr.

So, my advice is this:

1) Reinstall Debian's TeXLive (use Synaptics), and even if something is 
marked as installed, mark it for reinstall. If your system returns to a 
stable state, fine; otherwise, reinstall.

2) If TUG's TeXlive (2011) is properly installed, prepend it's path as 
instructed in

3) Restart. To check that TeXLive 2011 is really the one that will be 
used, try in your terminal

	which pdftex (it should reply something like


Use su - to be able to use tlmgr as root. Try, for example,

	tlmgr update --self --all --dry-run

With --dry-run it will tell you what it *would* do without actually 
performing any action.

Read the tlmgr documentation ---in your terminal

	texdoc tlmgr

(texdoc opens any documentation available in TeXLive).

*Always* make a backup of your files before attempting any changes in 
your system. *Really.*



More information about the tex-live mailing list