Tex Live and tlmgr.

Rolf Turner r.turner at auckland.ac.nz
Thu May 6 06:08:23 CEST 2021

I have Tex Live on my system (running Ubuntu 20.04).  I installed Tex
Live some time ago --- tlmgr tells me:

> tlmgr --version
> tlmgr revision 53568 (2020-01-27 19:20:16 +0100)
> tlmgr using installation: /usr/share/texlive
> TeX Live (http://tug.org/texlive) version 2019

So I thought that perhaps I should update.  I looked for some
instructions on the web, and it seems that I should start with:

> tlmgr option repository http://ftp.math.utah.edu/pub/tex/historic/

(I hope that the foregoing is comprehensible; it is a single line that
is split across two line, at least in my viewer).

Unfortunately this gives an error:

> (running on Debian, switching to user mode!)
> TLPDB: not a directory, not loading: /home/rolf/texmf
> tlmgr: running in usermode, did you call `tlmgr init-usertree'?

It seems that tlmgr thinks I have, or should have, Tex Live installed
in my home directory, and that is not the case.  I have it (and want
it) in /usr/share.  Currently "whereis texlive" tells me

> texlive: /usr/share/texlive

I tried "tlmgr init-usertree --help", and "tlmgr --help", and
came away not much enlightened.  There seems to be some indication that
I should issue the command

    tlmgr --init-usertree <some directory>

but it is not clear to me *what* directory.

Doing "ls" on /usr/share/texlive gives:

> debian/   index.html	LICENSE.TL  readme-html.dir/
> README.usergroups    texmf-dist/ doc.html  LICENSE.CTAN
> README	    readme-txt.dir/   release-texlive.txt  tlpkg/

There is no "texmf" directory, although there is "texmf-dist".
Should I issue the command

   tlmgr --init-usertree /usr/share/texlive/texmf-dist



   tlmgr --init-usertree /usr/share/texlive


   tlmgr --init-usertree /usr/share


Or something else entirely???

I hesitate to experiment because I'm afraid that if I get it wrong my
whole Tex Live installation will go to hell in a handcart and I will
lose, for the time being, the capacity to use LaTeX.  I cannot afford

Can anyone set me on the right path?  Eternally grateful.


Rolf Turner

Honorary Research Fellow
Department of Statistics
University of Auckland
Phone: +64-9-373-7599 ext. 88276

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