LaTeX forum ⇒ Decision GuidanceWhich distro should I use!

Don't know which distribution is the right one for you? Then this is the place to go!
Steven Waslander
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Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:57 pm

Which distro should I use!

Postby Steven Waslander » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:01 am


I'm writing a thesis, using pdftex, and have been using the MikTek distribution on windows and the Tetex distribution on Linux for the last 5 years, only because I didn't know any others existed.

So, the inaugural question! Which "should" I be using? Thanks!

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Re: Which distro should I use!

Postby Sebi » Tue Mar 13, 2007 12:25 am

You could also give TexLive 2007 a try.
For me, it seems that it is a lot faster than Miktex.

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Re: Which distro should I use!

Postby ssintay » Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:13 pm

I have migrated toward MikTeX because of the package management ability. I can ensure that I have the same environment and packages on both Windows and Linux systems. I especially like the graphical interface to MikTeX package management. It is very similar to CYGWIN and very intuitive for me.

Half the struggle for me is getting the environment setup so that paths and such are correct. MikTeX helps in this regard by keeping my packages organized.

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Which distro should I use!

Postby SmithWillSuffice » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:36 am

The previous replies assumed you meant a TeX distro. I'll assume you are looking for a new GNU/Linux distro just for fun! I'll also hedge that you might be looking for something like an IDE for LaTeX.

If by a "distro" you mean a Linux flavour then download the Knoppix or FedoraLive CD. Knoppix will give you a flavour of Debian. FedoraLive a taste of RedHat. Sounds like you already know about the best LaTeX distros for Linux and Windows. You needn't go past MiKTeX or teTeX. Sounds to me like what you're really asking for is a flash interface or IDE to these base distributions. In which case: try them all! You'll soon get a good feel for one of them quicker than the others. Try Kile with teTeX on GNU/Linux, and on your Windows machine try either LEd or TeXnicCenter. All these are GPL'ed free software packages. What's more, they are all compatible. Your LaTeX sources can be used with any and all of these three tools and with either MiKTeX or teTeX (OzTeX for a Mac).

Supposing you want more Linux options: If you are doing a boatload of scientific work then check out the Quantian distro. It's a remastering of Knoppix configured especially for scientists. It just has loads of goodies. Including automated Linux clustering via openMosix (but that restricts you to the linux 2.4.x series kernel). I've personally been using Fedora Core, and just upgraded to FC6 and recompiled my kernel with the openMosix patch for linux-2.6.17. It's just so radically awesome that I would have to write pages to express how happy I am. Mind you, it took some time to learn the ropes and install this patched kernel.

Once you decide whether you like the Debian flavours of Knoppix or Quantian, or prefer the Fedora bubbles, then you can install them from the Live CD. With Quantian or Knoppix you insert the Live CD, play with it a bit, then run

from a shell command line. The menu options should be easy to follow, just be sure to choose "Debian style install".

I haven't used the FedoraLive CD. I don't have to, I just grab the latest Fedora ISO and cram in all the scientific packages I can afford with my 40GB hard drive (the minimal HD on my eclectic cluster or new and old PCs). Even with that much space I can get everything, including all the graphics and multimedia apps. I favour teTeX. It's uncomplicated, and runs from the Kile LaTex editor for KDE as sweetly as can be.

Don't be shy though. You can play with all of the options. Try emacs if you're familiar with it. Try Texmaker (Windows or GNU/Linux). On Windows, you know MiKTeX, but try using it as the LaTeX distro with the LEd editor.

Oh yeah, the other reason I decided to post a reply discussing GNU+Linux distros is because the Google bots marauding the web will see your topic subject line and direct hapless Linux newbies to this thread, and if all they find is LaTeX talk they'll be disgusted! :mrgreen: Just kidding! But seriously, it helps if the topic subject is a little more specific, then Googlers will hopefully not be misdirected.
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