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Last pushed: 10 days ago
Short Description
A container with Tex Live and some helper scripts for LaTeX builds.
Full Description


This is a Docker image containing a TeX Live installation (version 2015.2016) with several support <a href="#user-content-3-scripts">scripts</a> for easing the compilation of LaTeX files to PDF. The goal is to provide a unified environment for compiling LaTeX documents with predictable and reproducible behavior, while decreasing the effort needed to install and maintain the LaTeX installation. This image is designed to be especially suitable for a Chinese audience and comes with several pre-installed open Chinese fonts.

0. Installing Docker

Docker can be installed following the guidelines below:

  • for Linux, you can run curl -fsSL | sh on your command line and everything is done automatically (if you have curl installed, which is normally the case),
  • for Windows
  • for Mac OS

1. Usage

Below, we discuss the various parameters that you can pass to this image when running it. If you have installed Docker, you do not need to perform any additional installations: The first time you do docker run -t -i thomasweise/texlive or something like that (see below), the image will automatically be downloaded and installed from docker hub.

There are two basic use cases of this image:

  1. Execution of a single command or script
  2. Providing a shell where you can use all the standard LaTeX commands and our helper scripts

Additionally, there are two ways to provide data to the container:

  1. Mounting the folder where the LaTeX document you want to compile is located: This step is necessary..
  2. Mounting a folder with additional fonts needed for compiling your document: This is optional.

The common form of the command is as follows:

docker run -v /my/path/to/document/:/doc/ -v /path/to/fonts/:/usr/share/fonts/external/ -t -i thomasweise/texlive COMMAND ARG1 ARG2...


  • /my/path/to/document/ must be replaced with the path to the folder containing the LaTeX document that you want to compile. This folder will be made available as folder /doc/ inside the container. If you use the image without command parameters (see below), you will get a bash command prompt inside this /doc/ folder.
  • Sometimes you may need additional fonts to compile your LaTeX document. An example for this situation is if you use something like the USTC thesis template, which needs fonts such as SimHei from Windows, which are not available under Linux. In this case, you can use the optional -v /path/to/fonts/:/usr/share/fonts/external/ parameter. Here, /path/to/fonts/ must be replaced with a path to a folder containing these fonts. If you do not need additional fonts, you can leave the whole -v /path/to/fonts/:/usr/share/fonts/external/ away.
  • Optinally you can also provide a single command that should be executed when the container starts (along with its arguments). This is what the COMMAND ARG1 ARG2... in the above command line stand for. If you specify such a command, the container will start up, execute the command, and then shut down. If you do not provide such a command, the container will start up and provide you a bash prompt in folder /doc/.

For compiling some document named myDocument.tex in folder /my/path/to/document/ with and using additional fonts in folder /path/to/fonts/, you would type something like the command below into a normal terminal (Linux), the Docker Quickstart Terminal (Mac OS), or the Docker Toolbox Terminal (Windows):

docker run -v /my/path/to/document/:/doc/ -v /path/to/fonts/:/usr/share/fonts/external/ -t -i thomasweise/texlive myDocument

Alternatively, you could also do

docker run -v /my/path/to/document/:/doc/ -v /path/to/fonts/:/usr/share/fonts/external/ -t -i thomasweise/texlive myDocument

The first version starts the container and leaves you at the command prompt. You can now compile your document using our helper script, then you exit the container. In the second version, you directly provide the command to the container. The container executes it and then directly exits.

Both should leave the compiled PDF file in folder /my/path/to/document/. If you are not using my pre-defined scripts for building (see below under point 3.1), I recommend doing chmod 777 myDocument.pdf after the compilation, to ensure that the produced document can be accessed inside your real (host) system's user, and not just from the Docker container. If you directly provide a single command for execution, the container attempts to heuristically find your produced pdf and to set its permissions correctly.

The -v sourcepath:destpath options are optional. They allow you to "mount" a folder (sourcepath) from your local system into the Docker container, where it becomes available as path destpath. We can use this method to allow the LaTeX compiler running inside the container to work on your LaTeX documents by mounting their folder into a folder named /doc/, for instance. But we can also mount an external folder with fonts into the Linux font directory structure. For this purpose, please always mount your local font directory into /usr/share/fonts/external/.

If you just want to use (or snoop around in) the image without mounting external folders, you can run this image by using:

docker run -t -i thomasweise/texlive

Another example for the use of the syntax for directly passing in a single command for execution is compiling a thesis based on the USTC thesis template. Such documents can be compiled using make, so you could do something like

docker run -v /path/to/my/thesis/:/doc/ -v /path/to/fonts/:/usr/share/fonts/external/ -t -i thomasweise/texlive make

2. Building and Components

The image has the following components:

You can build it with

docker build -t thomasweise/texlive .

3. Scripts

We provide a set of scripts (in /bin/) that can be used for compiling LaTeX documents:

3.1. Compiler Scripts

Usually, LaTeX compilation means to call the LaTeX compiler program, then BibTeX, then the compiler again, and then some conversion program from the respective compiler output format to PDF. With the compiler scripts, we try to condense these calls into a single program invocation.

  • <document> compile the LaTeX <document> with LaTeX (also do BibTeX)
  • <document> compile the LaTeX <document> with LuaLaTeX (also do BibTeX)
  • <document> compile the LaTeX <document> with PdfLaTeX (also do BibTeX)
  • <document> compile the LaTeX <document> with XeLaTeX (also do BibTeX)
  • <document> <compiler1> <compiler2> ... allows you to invoke an arbitrary selection of the above compiler scripts to produce the smallest pdf. Doing mydoc latex lualatex xelatex, for instance, will compile mydoc.tex with,, and and keep the smallest resulting pdf file.

3.2. Utility Scripts

We also provide some utility scripts for working with PDF, PS, and EPS files.

  • <document> convert the EPS file <document> to PDF
  • <document> transform a document (either in PostScript/PS, EPS, or PDF format) to PDF and include as many of the fonts used inside the document into the final PDF. This allows to produce a PDF from a .ps file <document> which should display correctly on as many computers as possible.
  • sudo is a pseudo-sudo command: Inside a Docker container, we don't need sudo. However, if you have a script or something that calls plain sudo (without additional arguments) just with a to-be-sudoed command, this script will emulate a sudo. By doing nothing.

4. License

This image is licensed under the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 3, 29 June 2007, which you can find in file The license applies to the way the image is built, while the software components inside the image are under the respective licenses chosen by their respective copyright holders.

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