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Look before you leap

Most TeX Distributions include an installation of ConTeXt already -- try running texexec --version to see if it's installed on your system. If it is not installed, there are two important considerations while considering ConTeXt installation.

  • Do you want a ConTeXt distribution or do you want a TeX distribution (plain TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and lots of other goodies).
  • Do you want a stable version of ConTeXt, or do you want the bleeding edge version. Remember that ConTeXt gets updated frequently.

If you are on a Linux system, there is also a third consideration:

  • Do you want a distribution package, or do you want your own local TeX installation.

Depending on your OS and the answers to the above questions, you should choose what to install.

NOTE: The officially recommened way of installing ConTeXt on all platforms is using ConTeXt Minimals

Linux Installation

Distribution based TeX Installation with Stable ConTeXt

The Debian tex packages are based on TeX-live and are fairly up to date. Debian derivates like Ubuntu are usually close. Usually, you should be able to search for context in your package manager, and install it. For specific instructions see

Distribution based TeX Installation with Bleeding Edge ConTeXt

Distribution based TeX installations usually update ConTeXt one to four times a year. ConTeXt beta versions are usually released one to four times a week. So, ConTeXt is usually somewhat out of date in most distributions. For most uses, the previous stable version is OK, but if you want to use a new feature, you will have to get an up to date ConTeXt. It is possible to manually update a distribution based ConTeXt installation, but you really need to know you distributions packaging scheme, and the TeX installation structure to it correctly. So, manually updating a distrbution based ConTeXt installation is not recommended. Instead, you should use ConTeXt Minimals. They can be installed in parallel to the distribution based TeX installation and do not interfere with it. So you can use your distribution's TeX installation for plain TeX and LaTeX, and use the minimals for ConTeXt. For details see

Local TeX distribution with Stable ConTeXt

If your distribution does not provide an up to date TeX installation, you can install TeX-live which provides comprehensive coverage of TeX engines (tex, pdftex, xetex, luatex), TeX macro packages (plain TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt) and TeX fonts. For more details see

Local ConTeXt distribution with Stable ConTeXt

If you only want a ConTeXt distribution (and no LaTeX based stuff), there are two options:

Local ConTeXt distribution with Bleeding Edge ConTeXt

Mac Installation

Windows Installation

TeX Distributions with Stable ConTeXt

There are two main TeX distributions for Windows

  • MikTeX (currently ConTeXt support is broken)
  • TeX-live (provides stable ConTeXt)

Bleeding Edge ConTeXt

If you want up to date ConTeXt, you have to use

Also see Windows Installation for details on configuring text editors and other hints. If you are new to the TeX world and don't know anything about editors or don't have a favourite editor, you may prefer Simple Windows Installation.

Open BSD installation

From source