Query from Nature about TexLive for Linux

Nelson H. F. Beebe beebe at math.utah.edu
Mon May 13 20:16:21 CEST 2019

David Matthews asks on Mon, 13 May 2019 18:47:33 +0200 about
editor/compiler support for TeX Live on Linux systems.

The answer is that there are lots of choices for editor, because
human-prepared (La)TeX input files are just plain text, so almost any
editor will do.  Word processors will not, because they want to save
text with additional internal markup.

In the Linux world, some people are devotees of the vi family
(including vim and vile), and others prefer the emacs family
(including qe, jove, jed, xjed, zile, ....).  I'm firmly in the emacs
camp, because I exploit its programmability extensively to provide a
rich development environment.

Novices should just use whatever editor they already know.

As for the compilation question, that really doesn't apply, because
the 450+ executables in a TeX Live bin directory are already built
from source code for that platform, so TeX `just works', and works the
same on all platforms, for a given input file (sometimes, modulo
slight changes in typesetting due to different versions of TeX
packages at different sites).

Also, the question is not just for TeX Live, because most Linux
distributions include multiple packages for TeXware.  Thus, on many of
my diverse systems, I have installed the vendor-supplied packages for
TeX, plus multiple years of TeX Live releases, plus our local
historical TeX implementation.  Many Linux distributions base their
TeXware offerings on a TeX Live release, but not all do.

On some platforms, novices like to use a development environment that
provides for editing, typesetting, and viewing of documents, all from
the same interface.  Both the Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS
distributions of TeX Live provide such facilities.

I personally don't subscribe to that model, because it limits what one
can do, requires a GUI, and doesn't leverage the power of the make
utility for doing the right document preparation steps in the right
order, without unnecessary extra work. The worst limitation of the
GUIs is their editing capability, which is, for emacs users, far too
primitive, and idiosyncratic.  Emacs implementations can be found for
all major desktop platforms, and they work the same on all of them
from the user's viewpoint: my long-trained fingers then do the right
thing everywhere, no matter what the O/S is.

- Nelson H. F. Beebe                    Tel: +1 801 581 5254                  -
- University of Utah                    FAX: +1 801 581 4148                  -
- Department of Mathematics, 110 LCB    Internet e-mail: beebe at math.utah.edu  -
- 155 S 1400 E RM 233                       beebe at acm.org  beebe at computer.org -
- Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0090, USA    URL: http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe/ -

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