Yihui Xie

Please Help Me Test TinyTeX: A Lightweight LaTeX Distribution

And An R Companion Package

Yihui Xie / 2017-12-04


Over the past week, I worked extremely hard on a small project that I had wished to work on for several years. It is called TinyTeX. The two basic goals of this project are:

  1. Provide a lightweight version of TeX Live that is easy to maintain (one command to rule them all).

  2. Make it hassle-free for R users to compile LaTeX documents, e.g., you do not need to worry how many times you should run pdflatex. In particular, R Markdown users should no longer worry about missing LaTeX packages, because they can be automatically installed in most cases.

I think TeX Live is pretty awesome (in particular, it is cross-platform), and it is just too big. I want to reduce its size, and highlight the useful parts of the TeX Live Manager (tlmgr).

Similarly, the LaTeX package latexmk is also awesome, but it is written in Perl. For Unix users, this is probably not a big issue (chances are you have already got Perl installed). For Windows users, it can be very inconvenient and confusing. The R companion package tinytex contains functions to emulate latexmk (to compile a LaTeX document for a correct number of times). They are written in R, so R users don’t need to install latexmk or Perl.

You can find everything you need from https://github.com/yihui/tinytex (full source code and the link to documentation). I hope TinyTeX and the R package can reduce your pain of working with a LaTeX distribution.

I only spent one week on this little project, but I think it is pretty much done. I’ll truly appreciate it if you can be brave enough to test it. For R Markdown users, please install a special branch of the rmarkdown package to test your PDF output:

# before installing TinyTeX, it will be great if you can uninstall
# your existing LaTeX distribution
devtools::install_github(
  c("yihui/tinytex", "rstudio/rmarkdown@feature/tinytex")
)
tinytex::install_tinytex()

P.S. I think you will appreciate TinyTeX when you try to uninstall your existing LaTeX distribution: only MiKTeX on Windows is easy to uninstall; for other LaTeX distributions like TeX Live and MacTeX, you may do a Google search and cry a little when you realize what you need to do to completely get rid of them. By comparison, you only need two short commands to uninstall TinyTeX, and it will be completely gone.

P.P.S. When in doubt, please read the documentation. If you run into problems that you don’t know how to solve, or have any feedback, please feel free to file Github issues.