Getting started with Tex/Latex on Mac/Linux

This is some notes I’ve learnt after hours and hours trying to figure out how Tex/LaTex works! I found it very hard to find a beginner’s guide, so I decided to write down what I’ve learnt in the simplest way I can explain.



  1. Download MacTex ( )
  2. Install the pkg file, very straight forward
  3. if you need to use “dvipng”, make sure to install by:
    $ sudo tlmgr update --self
    $ sudo tlmgr install dvipng

Under CentOS, we use Texlive, a implementation of Tex compiler. For instructions to install on CentOS, please checkout my previous blog post : Install Tex on CentOS linux

Concept / Tools you need to know

how does it work (in a nutshell)

You start by writing the .tex source file, using the “latex” command to compile .tex to .dvi file, then later can be converted to .ps / .pdf / any image format by combination of several tools.


LaTex packages are stored under texmf directories, as far as I know there could be more than 1 texmf directory. When you install fonts/other packages, you should merge the folders into the texmf hierarchy.


the command update the index after you install the packages


the command tools to compile .tex source file into .dvi files


a tools that convert dvi file into png

How to install more fonts?

Installing fonts is harder than you think (not as easy as putting .ttf into the font folder), I will cover this topic in future when I understand more about it.


This is the Texlive package manager comes with the MacTex, but this is not available in CentOS. I guess because you already can install packages by yum.

Share your thoughts