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From the main Project Page:

LaTeX is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production of technical and scientific documentation. LaTeX is the de facto standard for the communication and publication of scientific documents.

LaTeX on Windows

In Windows, it is highly recommended to use a full-featured suite such as TeX Live or MiKTeX. Both of these suites include everything required for end-to-end LaTeX compilation and filetype conversation. Please contact the HelpDesk for assistance with installing or using these on a UMIACS-supported Windows machine.

LaTeX on Linux/UNIX

As with Windows, there are full-featured suites available to compile and convert filetypes. On our supported RHEL5 and RHEL6 systems, Kile is pre-installed and located at /usr/local/bin/kile. TeX Live is also available for Linux, with OSX support made available in MacTeX

That being said, most of our supported Linux systems should already have the LaTeX command-line utilities installed. Here is a example of using these to receive output as a PDF:

  • Create a working directory. Traverse into it, and create a file example.tex with the following contents:
  \LaTeX{} is a document preparation system for the \TeX{}
  typesetting program. It offers programmable desktop
  publishing features and extensive facilities for
  automating most aspects of typesetting and desktop
  publishing, including numbering and cross-referencing,
  tables and figures, page layout, bibliographies, and
  much more. \LaTeX{} was originally written in 1984 by
  Leslie Lamport and has become the dominant method for
  using \TeX; few people write in plain \TeX{} anymore.
  The current version is \LaTeXe.
  % This is a comment, not shown in final output.
  % The following shows typesetting power of LaTeX:
    E_0 &= mc^2                              \\
    E &= \frac{mc^2}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}
  • Compile the file using the latex command. Your output should be similar to the following:
[jlent@opensub01 example]$ latex example.tex 
This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.3-1.40.12 (TeX Live 2011)
[1] (./example.aux) )
Output written on example.dvi (1 page, 1692 bytes).
Transcript written on example.log.
  • Assuming no errors, this should have created a file example.dvi. Depending your system, there are two ways to convert this file to PDF format:
  • Using dvips and then ps2pdf:
[jlent@opensub01 example]$ dvips example.dvi 
This is dvips(k) 5.991 Copyright 2011 Radical Eye Software (
' TeX output 2014.07.24:1013' ->
[jlent@opensub01 example]$ ps2pdf 
[jlent@opensub01 example]$ 
  • Using dvipdf:
[jlent@opensub01 example]$ dvipdf example.dvi 
[jlent@opensub01 example]$ 
  • Assuming there are no errors, you should now have a file example.pdf in your working directory.

Further Reading