I have installed Texlive 2021 on Ubuntu 21.04 on a new laptop. There aren't previous version of Texlive in the system. I have had to install it as root user since, while trying to install it as simple user he didn't let the installer write in some directories.

Following, the guide I have updated the paths in the $HOME/.profile file adding the following expressions:

if [ -d "/usr/local/texlive/2021/bin/x86_64-linux" ] ; then
if [ -d "/usr/local/texlive/2021/texmf-dist/doc/man" ] ; then
 if [ -d "/usr/local/texlive/2021/texmf-dist/doc/info" ] ; then

This way Latex works fine. As for tlmgr, in root mode, I can open and operate the GUI.
I tried, still in root mode (in user mode ir says I have to run it in root mode)

tlmgr update --self (and > tlmgr update --self)

It gave me the following message:

(running on Debian, switching to user mode!)
(see /usr/share/doc/texlive-base/README.tlmgr-on-Debian.md)
TLPDB: not a directory, not loading: /root/texmf
tlmgr: user mode not initialized, please read the documentation!

I tried to employ --usermode and --usertree with no success. Finally I wrote

PATH=/usr/local/texlive/2021/bin/x86_64-linux:$PATH; export PATH MANPATH=/usr/local/texlive/2021/texmf-dist/doc/man:$MANPATH; export MANPATH
INFOPATH=/usr/local/texlive/2021/texmf-dist/doc/info:$INFOPATH; > export INFOPATH

This way it works. Any alternative, that saves me copying and pasting those instruction? When writing

echo $PATH

the terminal lists the corrects directories. What's missing? I think I should set a PATH, but where?

UPDATE! (partially solved but not quite)

I copied the $PATH, $MANPATH, $INFOPATH on the .basch file. Now

tlmgr update -all

works fine Unfortunately

tlmgr update --self

responds this way.

tlmgr: Local TeX Live (2020) is older than remote repository (2021). Cross release updates are only supported with update-tlmgr-latest(.sh/.exe) --update See https://tug.org/texlive/upgrade.html for details.

I have tried to follow the suggestions on the upgrade page of tug.org/texlive without success.

Any idea?

  • This all is great. But what is your Ubuntu version? What was wrong with texlive from the official repositories? Why do you complicate APT things? Why do you really think you need 2021 version?
    – N0rbert
    Jul 16, 2021 at 20:47
  • I'm using Ubuntu 21.04. Why texlive 2021? Well I'm configuring my new laptop and took it from ww.tug.org. Jul 16, 2021 at 21:03
  • If I were you, I install 20.04 LTS with its 4 remaning years of support and then install texlive-full package here. But, ok, let's wait for solutions for your currently chosen path.
    – N0rbert
    Jul 16, 2021 at 21:10
  • I've added an update, but the error message is weird, I don't have a a 2020 version installed in the system. I'll wait, but you know? I still can use Latex this way, it seems (I've tried to compile a couple of documents). Jul 16, 2021 at 21:16
  • One of the easiest way to install the latest version of texlive is to use a user-friendly rolling release distribution. It is a good idea not to mess up with the default packages of Ubuntu. Jul 17, 2021 at 12:38

1 Answer 1


TexLive ecosystem is very mature, so having latest 2021 version is not really needed on real life situations. Personally I find the usage of binary TeXLive distribution from tug.org/texlive non-reproducible and too windows-way. I would recommend to remove it.

Reallly I would recommend two things to do on fresh laptop:

  1. Run a fresh install of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS to have bright future for next 4 years. This version is LTS - long-term support (5 years of support starting from 2020 April), so you should not run unnecessary distribution upgrades in each 9-months frames as it will with 21.04.

  2. Install TeXLive 2019 from official Ubuntu repositories as simple as

    sudo add-apt-repository universe
    sudo apt-get install texlive-full

    You should imagine the situation when your other systems exist. For example - home laptop and workstation at work. Installation of deb-packages is always reproducible and straight-forward procedure with 100% success.

  • Well,thanks. I tried to get creative and experiment. I've Ubuntu 20.04 with texlive 2019 in my office, at University, and wanted a change, just for the sake of it (fun?). I don't really need much more than basic Latex packages. I actually would have liked to install stable Debian but, apparently there were some problems with a few functions. Jul 17, 2021 at 11:08
  • 1
    I partly disagree... Having to wait two years for a new LTS release is a bit long, specially if you want to or need to use new features or packages, even more so when TeXLive = LTS - 1 (22.04 will be shipped with 2021). Aug 18, 2021 at 22:14
  • 1
    @vitaminace33 I agree with the feeling of your point, but if you want up-to-date software then Ubuntu is not the right distro. Ubuntu is structured around twice-yearly releases, and what you're looking for is more applicable to rolling-release distributions (Debian unstable releases, Arch, etc). Dec 9, 2021 at 7:36
  • @éclairevoyant You are absolutely right about Ubuntu LTS not being cutting edge, but this is no exactly what I wanted to point out. What I want to stress is that Ubuntu LTS releases, although at release time are shipped with TeXLive = LTS -1 due to a too short time window, they could easily upgrade TeXLive at LTS.1 or LTS.3. TeXLive is not cutting edge material and 6 month is more than enough to make sure that everything is stable. Dec 9, 2021 at 10:08
  • @vitaminace33 Fair enough. I'm not familiar enough with their internal policies to know why they don't upgrade texlive for the whole lifespan of the LTS release Dec 12, 2021 at 22:50

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