[pdftex] elementary latex-pdflatex questions

John Culleton john at wexfordpress.com
Sat Nov 6 15:31:18 CET 2010

On Friday 05 November 2010 21:20:28 Haines Brown KB1GRM wrote:
> In a new installation of debian squeeze, the TeX package I
> installed was TeXlive 2009. This introduced a change from the
> default production of .dvi files to the production of .pdf. This
> left me unable to function, and I'm sorry to have to bring up some
> very elementary questions.
> It seems that if I run the latex command on a .tex file I'll
> generate a .dvi file, and if I run pdflatex on it, I generate a
> .pdf file. However, I get inconsistent results. Is there a problem
> combining these commands? Is there a preferred sequence? For
> example, if I generate a .dvi with the latex command, I can not
> then subsequently create a .pdf with the pdflatex command. Even
> though there is an .aux file, the log has:
> 	No file test.aux.
> 	\openout1 = `test.aux'.
> In choosing between .dvi and .pdf format, I have the impression
> that to print hard copy, a .dvi file is mandatory, and the .pdf is
> for transmitting formatted documents as on the web or submitting
> material for publication. I'd appreciate some commentse on the
> accuracy of this.
> Since I primarily want to print hard copy, I'd like to make the
> latex command default and the pdflatex command an option. To make
> latex the default command, there's probably a statement I can put
> in my .emacs init file such as (setq TeX-command-default "LaTeX"),
> but I haven't been able to find it.
> When I go to print the .dvi file witn C-c C-p, I get "No
> appropriate `dvi' file could be found" even though there's one in
> the directory holding the .tex file.
> Where is the documentation that answers such questions? I've poured
> through some manuals, but they seem to skip questions such as this.
> Haines Brown

You can print a PDF file locally via Acrobat Reader. So you really 
don't need to use LaTeX but can use pdfLaTeX for almost anything.

PDF is the new format used by many commercial print shops. I produce 
only PDF files for transmission to printers. I also use pdf for e-books 
(see below.)

For my attached desktop printer I sometimes create a dvi file and then 
a PostScript (.ps) file. I print such a a file using gv. And I also use 
PostScript files when I need to create a saddle stitched booklet via 

There should be no difference between running LaTeX and PDFLaTex except 
in the output format.  They are alternatives. LaTeX (and plain TeX) 
will produce a dvi file which then can be run as input to dvips to 
create a PostScript file. PDFLaTeX by default will produce a PDF file.  
So the sequence is either:
latex ->foo.dvi->dvips->foo.ps

In my experience the same input file can be used for either sequence. I 
don't use Emacs but rather Gvim. So it may be that Emacs does some 
other steps.  Try running from a command line either of the sequences 
shown above. The first should yield a ps file and the second a pdf file. 

John Culleton, Wexford Press
"Create Book Covers with Scribus" $5.95 at

Free eps format barcode: http://www.tux.org/~milgram/bookland/

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