[OS X TeX] Keeping TeX installations synchronized between machines

Simon Spiegel simon at simifilm.ch
Wed Jan 6 21:08:14 CET 2010

On 06.01.2010, at 17:53, Alessandro Andretta wrote:

> Dear All, 
> could you explain what a sym link is? and, more importantly how to set it up? 
> I am using my iDisk to sync my documents between computers. 
> I tried to put an alias in ~/Library/texmf pointing to the files on the iDisk, but did not work.

A symlink is something like an alias, but not quite the same. It also refers to a location on your hard drive, but comes from the Unix side. Symlinks are created in the shell, aliases in the Finder. The main difference between symlinks and aliases is that a symlink is completely transparent, meaning that the file system handles the symlink exactly like the place it refers to which is not the case with aliases.

To create an alias you have to go the Terminal and enter something like:

ln -s target link_name

So let's say you put your personal texmf tree on your iDisk, you had to do something like this:

Open the terminal
Go to ~/Library with 'cd ~/Library'
then create a symlink in ~/Library which refers to the texmf folder on your iDisk 'ln -s /Volumes/nameofyouriDisk/texmf'

After this, LaTeX will automatically use the texmf directory on your iDisk.


Simon Spiegel
Steinhaldenstr. 50
8002 Zürich

Telephon: ++41 44 451 5334
Mobophon: ++41 76 459 60 39


„Was soll aus mir mal werden, wenn ich mal nicht mehr bin?“ Robert Gernhardt

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