I would like to know how to properly install, and use texlive along with the package manager tlmgr in Ubuntu. Here is what I did to install texlive:

sudo apt-get install texlive-latex-base texlive-latex-extra texlive-latex-recommended

And now I do have texlive, but the package manager is not working. Following is the error

sudo tlmgr update -all
(running on Debian, switching to user mode!)
cannot setup TLPDB in /home/kniwor/texmf at /usr/bin/tlmgr line 5336.

Is there a better way to install texlive? What can I do to fix the package manager at this point?

  • 2
    If you do not have any space issues you can go ahead and install the full texlive package: sudo apt-get install texlive-full
    – D-unit
    Jun 19, 2014 at 14:32
  • 2
    Thanks. However I prefer to install only what I need. Mostly because I like to know what I'm using since I use multiple computers to compile my files(work/home etc) and some of them have space issues.
    – ste_kwr
    Jun 19, 2014 at 14:35
  • See also: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/114623/…
    – landroni
    Jan 7, 2015 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


Just run tlmgr init-usertree first and then run sudo tlmgr update --all.

Maybe you will get:

/usr/bin/tlmgr: Initialization failed (in setup_unix_one):
/usr/bin/tlmgr: could not find a usable xzdec.
/usr/bin/tlmgr: Please install xzdec and try again.
Couldn't set up the necessary programs.
Installation of packages is not supported.
Please report to texlive@tug.org.
tlmgr: exiting unsuccessfully (status 1).

If so, you have to install the xzdec package, from your package manager or through sudo apt-get install xzdec.

To use the GUI, you also need to install perl-tk:

sudo apt-get install perl-tk

Then you can summon the GUI via:

tlmgr --gui

And then hit the Load Default button.

  • 5
    This works fabulously.
    – ste_kwr
    Jun 23, 2014 at 18:24
  • TeXLive 2013 version included in Ubuntu 14.04 may stop working with tlmgr, since TeXLive 2014 was released in the meantime. See: askubuntu.com/questions/486170/…
    – landroni
    Jan 7, 2015 at 19:24
  • 1
    I was missing the xzdec package on a fresh installation of 16.04. Worked fine afterwards!
    – Daniel
    Jul 6, 2016 at 17:34

If you want to use tlmgr on Ubuntu you basically have two options:

  1. Install texlive from scratch and create a dummy package

  2. Use install-tl-ubuntu, as described in this answer on tex.SE

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