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I'd like to learn and use LaTeX on Ubuntu. What packages do I need? What is the best editor for LaTeX code on Ubuntu for a new LaTeX user? I'd also like the ability to see the code in one pane and the results in a second pane, if possible -- not necessarily WYSIWYG, though.

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I am sorry about that, what is LaTex ??? – Black Block Nov 25 '11 at 23:27
@Naruto See – Christopher Kyle Horton Dec 3 '11 at 21:09
I won't join the TeX editor wars, but I would like to reiterate what @detly said: whatever you do don't start out with Lyx: you won't learn what you're doing and you won't really get functionality out of it until you know what you want it to do. – nbm Feb 11 '13 at 2:57

12 Answers 12

up vote 36 down vote accepted

Just install the texlive package, this will pull in all the essentials. Additionally you can install documentation in your language, eg. texlive-doc-en. If you're writing in a language different from English, you should also add the respective language package, e.g. texlive-lang-french. There are also nice topic oriented packages like texlive-science or texlive-humanities -- but if you want to learn the basics of LaTeX you certainly don't need them.

If you just need basic editing support like syntax highlighting, any text editor will do, including the standard GNOME text editor gedit. More advanced options include:

  • texworks Install texworks: A LaTeX editor with a quite clean and simple interface, featuring an integrated PDF viewer and synchronisation between the editor and the viewer (i.e. you can jump to the same position in both)
  • kile Install kile: a powerful editor for KDE (can be installed under GNOME and works fine apart from changing some configuration details to use the GNOME pdf viewer for example)
  • texmaker Install texmaker: Similar in scope to KILE, but more "GNOME-like" (e.g. less buttons in the toolbar ;-) ), a bit fewer features than KILE probably
  • latexila Install latexila: Like KILE, but targeted to GNOME.
  • lyx Install lyx: not really a LaTeX editor but more a word processor that uses LaTeX internally -- opinions differ whether this is the best way to learn "real" LaTeX.

Most of these editors don't really have a preview pane but this is not really necessary: Just keep evince open with the document you are working on, evince will automatically refresh its content as soon as you "compile" your latex document

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Texworks is also a good available editor! – Peter Smit Nov 15 '10 at 6:29
+1 for Texmaker. – Hans Parshall Dec 11 '10 at 18:01
Re. LyX — there's no real harm in using it alongside learning LaTeX, as long as you're clear with yourself that this is what you're doing ;) At any rate, to really use LyX with any degree of success, you should know the basics of LaTeX and have struggled through the more basic errors unaided. – detly Jan 11 '12 at 11:29
I recommend TeXstudio: is is based on Texmaker, but is open-source and has additional functions to make life easier. – rosch Nov 10 '12 at 10:36
I would like to note that, contrary to what rosch imples, Texmaker is open source (GPL). In any event, both TeXstudio and Texmaker are very good options for a first experience with LaTeX. – Luís de Sousa Apr 3 '14 at 8:24

If you just want to install the base stuff you should install  texlive-latex-base. If you want the whole shebang, including extensive documentation, you go for  texlive-full.

If you want a lightweight editor, you could just install  gedit-latex-plugin, which adds LaTeX functionality to the default text editor.

If you want something with more functionality, you could give texmaker (also  in the repositories) a try.

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Just a quick +1 specifically to the gedit-latex-plugin. I am currently writing my PhD thesis with it, and I really like the way it integrated into the default text editor, and the way it seamlessly works with a project that spans multiple files and large bibtex file. – S B Apr 27 '11 at 12:31
gedit is very slow and/or crashes when opening files with very long lines. Can you fix it? (...) This is a known limitation (...) and cannot be fixed. if you can live with that, gedit may be for you; else, you may want to look for other options, e.g. geany – nutty about natty Mar 28 '13 at 13:13

You can install all the necessary latex packages via texlive-latex-base. There are also additional options available.

You can always use emacs as editor, it has a lot of latex utilities available. However, any editor you are comfortable with works.

If you like to have specialized editors (that actually have wysiwyg), you can look into lyx, or if you use KDE you can use KILE which is an IDE for latex.

KILE gives you additional help with LaTex utilities like bibliography etc. You can automatically start all the compilation necessary etc.

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Since I use GNOME, wouldn't Kile bring in a bunch of KDE stuff? And wouldn't that perhaps cause me problems? Thanks for the advice, by the way! – eugenemarshall Jul 30 '10 at 15:53
Yes it would install and load kde libraries – txwikinger Jul 30 '10 at 16:09
+1 for Lyx, makes it easy to get going and then work out more details later. – Hamish Downer Jul 30 '10 at 17:18
@eugenemarshall: KDE and Gnome can coexist on the same system, so having the KDE libraries installed shouldn't cause you any problems. Well, Kile will probably look out of place among your other applications, but that's all. – David Z Jul 30 '10 at 19:14

Not necessarily a tool specifically for Ubuntu but we have a sister TeX Stack Exchange on this network that has great information for those of us still learning LaTeX.

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Thanks for the plug! "Those of us still learning LaTeX" ... that'll be everyone who uses it, then. – Loop Space Dec 11 '10 at 21:50

I while back I wrote a blog post comparing 8 different free LaTeX editors, all of which are available for Ubuntu. (Of course, I was using Ubuntu when I wrote the post!)

The post is about six months old at this time. I think a lot of the information there will be worthwhile, even though some of it is out of date, or new things have been added in the meantime not mentioned there. (E.g., Texmaker(x) has a built in preview now, gedit has become more SyncTeX compliant -- I guess evince now has some SyncTeX features, though I've never figured out how to use them.)

If you're not hurting for disk space (beware, it's over 2 GB!), I recommend installing the texlive-full package, or even skipping Ubuntu's package manager and installing TeXlive directly from CTAN/TUG. That way you never have to worry about missing pacakges.

Several people have mentioned Texmaker, but if you're considering that, I highly recommend going for the TexmakerX fork instead, which has a lot more features, or at least I did when I compared.

In the meantime, I've settled on using vim, but without the vim-latex suite. I've written some custom scripts, including one that provides vim with a live-update-as-you-type preview panel using mupdf. If anyone is interested, I'll post instructions for using that with Ubuntu somewhere. However, I don't really recommend trying to master both vim and LaTeX at the same time. They each have a huge learning curve (though they're both worth it!), and trying to do them both simultaneously would make the most patient person scream.

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I liked your blog it was quite informative. Kile is my favourite too. – Magpie Aug 15 '12 at 1:11

Install via the software center

Gummi is a free, open source, cross-platform, program, featuring a live preview pane.

Features included in the latest stable release of Gummi:

Live preview pane for the compiled document
Helpers to generate tables/matrices/graphics
LaTeX error checking
Syntax highlighting
Document statistics
BibTeX integration
Persistent configuration

Features currently included in our development branch:

Multi-tab/document project support
Support for additional build LaTeX systems rubber & latexmk
Compiling through DVI & Postscript
Makeindex support
Continuous PDF preview mode
Filter bibliography entries
SyncTeX support

Gummi is still under active development.

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You might want to try TeXlipse, a plugin that adds TeX support to the Eclipse IDE.

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I also use TeXlipse, a LaTeX editor integrated with all the other Eclipse tools is mighty powerful. That said, I would note that there has not been a new release for 3.5 years. – Luís de Sousa Apr 3 '14 at 8:18

Vim is one of the best editors, but you need to learn a bit before you can use it (start vimtutor in a terminal), and learn more to use it efficiently. It has an extension vim-latex in the vim-latexsuite package. You can use the graphical version of vim, the gvim.

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Install via the software center

Texmaker is a free, modern and cross-platform LaTeX editor for linux, macosx and windows systems that integrates many tools needed to develop documents with LaTeX, in just one application.

Texmaker includes unicode support, spell checking, auto-completion, code folding and a built-in pdf viewer with synctex support and continuous view mode. Texmaker is easy to use and to configure.

Texmaker is released under the GPL license .

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As other have mentioned texlive-latex-base and texlive-full are the best way to get the latex packages on your system. I also install texlive-latex-extra as it makes even more packages available.

Lately for a latex editor I have been trying out TeXworks. With TeXworks you can have your latex code open in one window and in the window next to it you can have your compiled document. When you make an update and rebuild the document the document view will stay at the point you where looking at so this can be useful for seeing your change took effect.

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As a LaTeX distribution, you can use texlive. There's a metapackage called texlive-full that will install the entire distribution for you, but of course you can install individual packages as you need them. As for the editor, there are several options and you should probably try afew and see which one you prefer. I personally use either Emacs with auctex, or texworks. Other popular editors are vim, texmaker, and many more.

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Without wanting to start a (religious) war I can highly recommend emacs combined with AUCTeX. It provides fantastic facilities for moving around the document, managing references and citations, inserting template (LaTeX) markup for different environments (tables, figures, and so on) and compiling the document and previewing it.

AUCTeX is really excellent for long documents -- writing my thesis in it was what got me to learn emacs and, sadly, use my beloved vim less.

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