Hi, I know this might be a non-sense question, but I have to ask. I installed TeXLive 2009 on Ubuntu 10.04 (x64), but I did it manually with the "install-tl" perl script following the directions on http://tug.org/texlive/doc.html. All the other software I've previously installed was through

sudo aptitude install package-name

The reason why I did a manual installation was because tlmgr doesn't install with the aptitude repositories version, and I wanted a quick way to install/uninstall TeXLive-latex related packages. Moreover, I read that, as a general rule, TeXLive Ubuntu repositories' are generally outdated.

The problem I'm facing now is that I need to install other related software, for example, auctex and when I issue

sudo aptitude install auctex

I get that all these packages will be installed:

 auctex emacs23{a} emacs23-bin-common{a} emacs23-common{a} 
  emacsen-common{a} lacheck{a} latex-beamer{a} latex-xcolor{a} lmodern{a} 
  luatex{a} pgf{a} preview-latex-style{a} prosper{a} ps2eps{a} 
  tex-common{a} texlive-base{a} texlive-binaries{a} texlive-common{a} 
  texlive-doc-base{a} texlive-extra-utils{a} texlive-font-utils{a} 
  texlive-generic-recommended{a} texlive-latex-base{a} 
  texlive-latex-base-doc{a} texlive-latex-recommended{a} 
  texlive-latex-recommended-doc{a} texlive-luatex{a} texlive-pstricks{a} 

Even if I try something like

sudo aptitude install --without-recommends auctex

I still get

 auctex emacs23{a} emacs23-bin-common{a} emacs23-common{a} 
  emacsen-common{a} preview-latex-style{a} tex-common{a} 

Which is way better than before, but I'm still getting tex-common that is normally installed when TeXLive full installation is performed (I think). tex-common in turn, is installed because of preview-latex-style, which in turn is needed because auctex requires so.

So, my question. Is there any way to tell aptitude "Hey I've already installed these so don't worry about dependencies, I have these under control despite you'd never seen them before?"? Will auctex even work despite the manual installation of TeXLive?

Any help or idea is greatly appreciated.

3 Answers 3


When you install a program that doesn't come through the packaging system, install it under /usr/local (or under /opt, or in your home directory, just not in /usr). Unless you're short of disk space, you can leave the packaged version if there is one.

Occasionally it can be useful to pretend a package is installed. This can be done by installing a dummy package that does nothing but require and provide dependencies. Debian-based systems (including Ubuntu) provide the equivs-build command in the equivs package. Quoting from the package description:

This package provides a tool to create Debian packages that only contain dependency information.

One use for this is to create a metapackage: a package whose sole purpose is to declare dependencies and conflicts on other packages so that these will be automatically installed, upgraded, or removed.

Another use is to circumvent dependency checking. If a package P is not installed on the system, packages that depend on P cannot normally be installed. However, if functionality equivalent to P is known to be installed, this tool can be used to trick the Debian package management system into believing that package P is actually installed. NOTE: this should be considered a crude hack to work around awkward situations, not a normal solution.

  • 1
    Interesting, I did't know about equivs. It is definitely a plausible solution at least for the auctex problem... On the other hand, TexLive 2009 installs by default on /urs/local/texlive/2009/, so I could have left it there along with the Ubuntu's repo in a different directory, but then again I'm running low on resources at least on this laptop. I'll give it a try on my desktop PC. Thanks!
    – anlucki
    Aug 25, 2010 at 1:43
  • Gilles, I'm working now with the Editor Kile which despite it installs some KDE libraries, it allows to indicate where the LaTeX/TeX software is located (au contraire to auctex which requires to provide this information during build via ./configure). I also believe TeXLive 2010 is going to be out soon, so I'll keep this place posted when I try on my desktop PC to see if it works. I realize now that, even though, it may present a problem to mess up aptitude, in the long run, Ubuntu's repo requires to MANUALLY update each CTAN package, so updating presents the same hassle, one way or the other.
    – anlucki
    Aug 25, 2010 at 20:02
  • @l30nc1t0: AucTeX can be told where the TeX installation is at any time. Set the TeX-macro-global variable to the list of directories containing TeX style files, and run TeX-auto-generate-global once. See “Customizing” in the manual. Aug 25, 2010 at 20:36
  • Thanks. I see it now that you mention it, at gnu.org online documentation, but the problem here's I'm definitely not competent enough on Emacs (or Lisp-related files?). I read the section on installing and configuring auctex. You brought up my attention to customizing, and I'm peering it now, but I cannot even grasp what are they talking about. I was mislead by Wikipedia and the summary of features of auctex. I thought XEmacs was like GEdit or something. I apologize for being a nOOb in these matters: I suffer from 'lack-of-Windows-like' syndrome, XD.
    – anlucki
    Aug 25, 2010 at 23:42

I can't take the whole mess of aptitude doing bananas just for the sake of having the most up to date LaTeX distribution. I tried DaveParillo's advice, installed with

aptitude install --without-recommends --prompt --safe-resolver auctex

It installed auctex and emacs. It didn't work. Apparently, auctex configuration has to be done from source, so the only solution to my above question would be to forget about aptitude (so yet again, DaveParillo was right, I messed up aptitude) and build auctex from source. And as you may be already figuring it out, this a huge ball coming, since every time I might need something related with LaTeX I'll need to build from source each and every program, so... Answering my second question: no, it will not work unless auctex is built from source with ./configure --funky-options-about-where-your-tex-installation-may-reside. Moreover, auctex extension was gone from Emacs when I restarted.

I removed auctex with

sudo aptitude purge auctex

and I removed TeXLive 2009 with "tlmgr", I'll install the one from Ubuntu's repositories. And I'll cope with that in the meantime. I love aptitude way of handling installations, but sometimes is just... Argh. Answering the main question "Is there any way to tell aptitude you've already done something manually?": no, in this particular experiment of mine, but I don't know if this might be possible with some experienced workaround solution.

Sorry for the inconvenience, guys. If this were a testing environment I'd go ahead and try doing everything manually, even if that means reinstalling the OS many times. But I just needed this working, and I can't go with that option. Thanks to everyone for your time and consideration.


You have bypassed the normal aptitude dependency system, so I think you may have problems. The simplest, but possibly tedious answer is to run aptitude with the --prompt option - it will ask you before each install (or removal) and you can choose which packages to install.

Since this question deals with hacking latex, you may to post this on the Tex - LaTex stack exchange

  • Thanks for your time Dave, I tried it, too bad it didn't work: you were right about messing up the dependencies with aptitude.
    – anlucki
    Aug 24, 2010 at 13:06
  • --prompt or -P didn't work? Aug 24, 2010 at 14:09
  • Dave, yes. I didn't try it only with --prompt but with --without-recommends and --safe-resolver. The first one, following your advise so it would ask me about which package I would like to install. The second one needed because if not it would go with those 20 or so extra packages. And just in case, I went ahead and added the resolver, to avoid any issues. It went ahead and installed everything, prompting only for "Install [y/n]?" once.
    – anlucki
    Aug 25, 2010 at 1:47

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