portable LaTeX environment

August 22 2008 at 19:06 Leave a comment

Wouldn’t it be great to carry your LaTeX installation with you wherever you are?

In the last weeks I have been working on a complete LaTeX environment to use on a USB pen drive for my employer. While searching the internet I found three interesting sources to start from:

  1. Robert Wiedermann at BOKU had done a plain LaTeX package with the editor TeXmaker for the use in university courses.
  2. Walter Bannert had written¬† a Tutorial for MikTeX 2.4, which quickly referred me to¬† Alexander Grahn’s tutorial for current MikTex versions.
  3. USBTex by Exomatik, which turned Grahn’s explanations into a working example.

At the first glance, USBTex seemed perfect for my purpose, but then I discovered that something essential was missing: a tool for managing one’s literature database.

So I followed Grahn’s tutorial step by step, and added JabRef to the package. Good result, but finally the package was way too big, and I discovered that Java might not be installed on every PC one would want to use LaTeX, but adding a Java package adds a few MB as well …

Later I stumbled upon JSmooth, which builds a wrapper around a Java application and lets you redirect to a download site. To reduce the size of the download I made a seperate archive for the Java engine and ripped of all unnecessary files from MikTex and the other applications.

Of course, my employer wanted to have in-depth documentation, so I wrote some batch files which do all the necessary jobs to build the LaTeX environment: copying of installations, down-sizing, configuring and packaging the Java package and the whole bundle. You can find this documentation, the USB-LaTeX and an archive with tools to build it on your own in portable LaTeX 2.

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