TeX Distributions

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< Installation hints | Update Hints | Linux Installation >

Historically there were a lot of different TeX distributions. Nowadays there are only a few wide spread. We mention only those that are free and support ConTeXt:

TeX Livea lottug.org/texliveweb2c, based on teTeX; experimental installer on Windows
teTeXLinux, Unixtug.org/tetexweb2c
fpTeXWin32xemtexnot maintained any more, see XEmTeX
MikTeXWinmiktex.orgwith GUI
proTeXtWintug.org/protextbased on MikTeX, bundled with TeX Live
W32TeXWinfsci.fuk.kindai.ac.jpwith XeTeX and the latest ConTeXt
gwTeXMacOS Xrna.nlweb2c, based on TeX Live; comfortable install and update GUI ("i-Installer"). Now unsupported
MacTeXMacOS Xtug.org/mactexweb2c, based on TeX Live; comfortable install. Actually the simplest MacOSX install.
minimal ConTeXtWin, Lin, Macpragma-ade.comweb2c
  • web2c is a common base for TeX distributions, see tug.org/web2c. It uses the kpathsea tool and its ls-R database for file searches.

web2c hints

  • use mktexlsr (same as texhash) to rebuild the file database after every install or change!
  • Beware, older web2c distributions keep ConTeXt’s (Perl/Ruby) scripts at .../context/perltk, newer at .../scripts/Perl/context! Make sure to delete the older ones! See also Update Hints

MikTeX hints

  • MikTeX has a "rebuild database" menu entry; use it after every install or change!
  • You should enable write18 in miktex.ini (MikTeX's counterpart to texmf.cnf) to get MetaPost support working.

alternative TeX processors

TeX the program writes only DVI output; with ConTeXt we normally use pdfeTeX, a merger of eTeX and pdfTeX &#150; it's nowadays probably the most used TeX processor and part of all(?) distributions. But there are more...

pdf(e)TeX"all"Yespdftex.orglatest version at freshmeat or sarovar
XeTeX"all"Yessil.orgsupports OpenType and all other fonts installed on OS, Unicode, bidirectional typesetting, Mac special features; Windows version not officially released yet - see W32TeX above
NTSJavaNoCTANOO re-implementation of TeX in Java as a base for further enhancements; discontinued, see ExTeX
ExTeXJavaNoextex.orgmerger of NTS with eTeX, pdfTeX and Omega (pre-alpha state)
Aleph"all"?YesCTANOmega/eTeX merge (former eOmega) by Giuseppe Bilotta (beta state)
MetaTeXPOSIXNometatex.orgtries to provide a fast pdfTeX, MetaPost etc. and kpathsea replacement as C libraries (pre-alpha state)