Just a picture! TeX (Tau Episolon Chi 'tech') is a remarkable typesetting system for computers.

Developed by computer science professor in the 1970s, it is available for a wide variety of computers, from Unix boxes to Amigas and Atari STs! Even IBM ATs were able to run versions of TeX. Contrary to the rewriters of history, computer-typesetting did not start with the Apple Mac. TeX was being used to publish books - mainly about mathematics - during the 1970s.

Predictably there is no graphical user interface available, except in some commercial versions and LyX. Oh, that is the other thing, many versions of TeX are often available. It is possible to build up a system for free. What is NOT free is the time required to set up the system properly, and the time required to learn how to use TeX! Fortunately, good computer bookstores usually have a book or two to help the novice.

TeX is best suited for quickly typesetting large documents. It outputs good looking documents quickly. I use it for writing short letters too!

TeX is not well-suited to people who painstakingly adjust the appearance of their documents, moving their headings by a few points until it is `just right'. TeX will automatically make a good choice for you. It is possible to change the defaults, but it can be pretty darn difficult!

From a user-standpoint, TeX users do not `need' to know about programming. However, I strongly suspect that people who can do a little bit of computer programming and know the structure of their directory trees will cope with TeX more easily (if you are not a programmer, you will find LyX much easier). This is because TeX, like HTML (used to construct web pages), contains lots of `in-text' instruction codes, which people who program or use mathematics will be more comfortable with e.g. \documentclass{article}. TeX has also been developed on Unix type boxes, and its configuration files demand knowledge of where files are kept and so on.

CTAN sites

These sites contain the numerous macros which make TeX easier and easier to use. The most important set of macros are the 'LaTeX' macros. Most TeX users use LaTeX. LaTeX makes even more 'automatic' decisions for the user, which is handy if you do not really want to 'program' TeX. LaTeX 2e upgrades come regularly every six months! LaTeX programmers are working towards 'version 3', which will be quite a radical upgrade.

ftp.dante.de, ftp.tex.ac.uk, goanna.cs.rmit.edu.au


One of the better (and also free) Amiga implementations. Features ability to print to standard Amiga printer drivers, as well as previews of the 'DVI (device independent files)'.

Version 1.3 is freely available e.g. on CTAN sites and Aminet wuarchive.wustl.edu. etc..

Version 1.4 is more difficult to find. You can download version 1.3, and then download the 1.4 beta 6 upgrade available on Aminet. A stripped down version 1.4 has recently been uploaded onto the Aminet. Alternatively Meeting Pearls III CD-ROM (and at least one of the Fish CD-ROMs) has the 'complete' 1.4 distribution. Unfortunately, the distribution had incorrect installation files and some other little problems. The fix is here (link broken!).

And what is DVI? DVI is the file produced by TeX, which has been designed to be further processed by other programs. Typically, DVI can be sent to a printer. Most modern TeX implementations allow DVI to be seen on a screen. Various utilities are available to manipulate DVI files e.g. conversion to postscript.


Was one of the best TeX implementations for ANY computer. Its author, Rockicki, has also written TeX utilities which have been converted to just about every other TeX implentation e.g. dvips. It is commercial, I have not personally used this program. Unfortunately, it does not seem that Rockicki is providing this software anymore.

The TeX package catalogue

At last! A comprehensive catalogue and description of the hundreds of packages available for TeX and LaTeX. Need a package to colour in your table, or create dropcaps? It is all at this site, as well as plenty of others. Even has handy cross-references to related packages.


Cannot stand typing in commands like \documentclass[a4paper]{article}? Try LyX! This package allows TeX to be used like a normal word-processor. LyX does not try to be completely WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). Instead, it claims to be WYSIWYM (what you see is what you mean). LyX successfully compiles and runs on LinuxPPC 1999 Q3 under APUS.

Just a picture!

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Last modified 10th August 2003.