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Alternate Installation Procedures

MacTeX installs TeX Live 2018, GUI front ends, Ghostscript, and other software, configured and ready to use.

TeX Live also runs on Linux and Unix machines; for these machines an alternate TeX Live Install Script which runs in a shell is provided by TUG, the TeX User Group. Since OS X runs Unix, this Install Script also works on the Macintosh. There are two advantages to installing with this script rather than with MacTeX.

First, MacTeX installs TeX Live in /usr/local/texlive, a location requiring root access. Some users do not have access to this location. They can still obtain TeX Live by using the TeX Live Install Script because this script can install in any location.

In addition, Mojca Miklavec has compiled the TeX Live 2018 sources for older systems by using a cross compiler. These binaries are not in MacTeX, but they are provided by the TeX Live Install Script for legacy systems older than 10.10; the MacTeX binaries are provided by that script for OS X 10.10 - 10.13.

Thus users with older hardware and users without root access can still get TeX Live 2018 by using the Unix TeX Live Install Script. The disadvantage of this approach is that these users will not get the TeX Dist structure for easy configuration of GUI programs. Therefore they will need to reconfigure the PATH variable for their shells, and configure any GUI program they use to point to the TeX binaries.

The TeX Live Install Script can be obtained at www.tug.org/texlive/acquire-netinstall.html. The script is a small file which is run from Terminal. It asks a series of questions, and then downloads and installs TeX Live piece by piece over the internet. Follow the instructions on the TUG web site to proceed.

Follow the suggestions below if you want your installation to behave like MacTeX's install of TeX Live.
  1. Refuse an offer to import settings from a prior installation.
  2. Leave most settings alone; the defaults work well.
  3. In the "directory" section install in your home directory by setting the install directory to ~/texlive/2017. Or choose another spot if you prefer. Locations with spaces in their names will cause endless problems later on.
  4. Adopt the MacTeX convention of setting TEXMFVAR to ~/Library/texlive/2017/texmf-var
  5. Adopt the MacTeX convention of setting TEXMFCONFIG to ~/Library/texlive/2017/texmf-config
  6. Adopt the MacTeX convention of setting TEXMFHOME to ~/Library/texmf
  7. In the options section, select letter size instead of A4 size if appropriate.
  8. Notice that the installation "scheme" section allows installations which use less hard disk space. MacTeX installs everything, scheme-full. Basic TeX installs scheme-small. We recommend scheme-full.
If you install with this script, you must obtain a GUI front end on your own. All of the GUI applications we install work fine with TeX Live installed in the home directory. For links to obtain them, go to Smaller Downloads.

You may need Ghostscript, which can be obtained on the Smaller Downloads page.

Almost all GUI programs for the Mac are configured to find the TeX binaries in /Library/TeX/texbin. This link will not exist after installing with the TeX Live script, so GUI programs need to be reconfigured with the location of these binaries. If you install TeX Live in /usr/local/texlive/2018, then the 64 bit binaries are in /usr/local//texlive/2018/bin/x86_64-darwin, and 32 bit binaries are in a similar location with a different final entry.

MacTeX has been constructed to "just work" without explaining Unix over and over again to users. The MacTeX group provides no support for the TeX Live install script. This script is straightforward, but if you use it, then you are on your own.