[tex-live] "why is tex live so big"

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Mon Oct 22 23:28:08 CEST 2012

On 2012-10-22 at 12:25:51 +0100, Robin Fairbairns wrote:

 > a speaker at the uk tug meeting on saturday (talking about tex-on-
 > raspberry-pi[*]) had a moan about the size of tex live.  not
 > unreasonable in that context, really...

Hi Robin,
first a remark regarding the Raspberry Pi.  I only have a 4GB SD card,
which isn't sufficient for TeX Live.  However, "disk" size can easily
be extended with USB sticks.  They should contain an ext2 filesystem
at least in order to support symlinks.  An 8GB stick is sufficient,
TeX Live consumes 5.4GB.  The stick is permanently mounted here, just
like a hard drive.  If both USB ports are needed for keyboard and
mouse (I'm using ssh instead), a USB hub is necessary.  The package
leaflet recommends not to power the device from a USB port of a PC
because the PC can be damaged.  So I suppose that a USB hub with
built-in power supply is already available.

 > thinking about it on my way home (a slow journey) i decided it
 > might be useful to provide an answer in the faq (ignoring the fact
 > that no newbie is likely to look at the faq, but at least it would
 > be a useful link to give to people who were having trouble).

Maybe the Raspberry Pi web site could explain how to extend disk
space.  I suppose that most people don't consider USB sticks because
they are shipped with an unsuitable file system, but with mke2fs(8)
it's easy enough to make a USB stick behave like a Unix hard drive.

 > in the discussion in the meeting, several "obvious" things were
 > touched on: don't retain the package files, don't keep a source
 > tree.  some suggested not to retain the documentation, though that
 > (imho) is a dangerous.

The TeX Live installer has options for disabling the doc and source
tree.  tlmgr has an option to turn autobackups off.  An unfortunate
thing is that the .tar.xz are retained until installation is complete.
The solution is to install TL on a PC and then copy the tree to the

BTW, there was a discussion some time ago on de.comp.text.tex when
someone intended to write a book about the new engines (XeTeX, LuaTeX)
which should be accompanied with a CD containing a minimal subset of
TeX Live.  It turned out that it's extremely difficult to decide what
can be omitted.  I played with the collections menu of the installer
but I didn't find out what safely could be omitted in order to
decrease the size significantly (or even noticeably).

 > does anyone here have any other tricks.  for example, is the
 > auto-downloader texliveonfly a reasonable recommendation, in the
 > sense of "install a minimal tl, and populate it as you go along"?
 > (the corresponding thing is quite a good answer for miktex users,
 > but i've no experience of texliveonfly.)

I don't have any experience with texliveonfly either, but I already
found MiKTeX's auto-downloader a bit annoying when I tried to
demonstrate people something and many packages had to be installed
on-the-fly.  On a Raspberry Pi everything is even *much* slower and I
can't imagine that anybody will be really happy with it.

I'm just running "tlmgr update --all" on my Raspberry Pi:

 [ 27/142, 25:54/03:09:51] update: gfsbodoni [977k] (19440 -> 27976) ... done 

Three hours with autobackups disabled.  I can't imagine that anybody
will be happy with an auto-downloader.  Most likely lzma
de-compression consumes an enormous amount of CPU time.

I can only recommend to extend disk space.  I payed 10€ for a 16GB
stick but for a complete TeX Live 8GB are sufficient.


Reinhard Kotucha                                      Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                              mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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