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tex, virtex, initex - text formatting and typesetting


tex [options] [commands]


This manual page is not meant to be exhaustive. The complete documentation for this version of can be found in the info file or manual Web2C: A TeX implementation.

formats the interspersed text and commands contained in the named files and outputs a typesetter independent file (called DVI, which is short for DeVice Independent). 's capabilities and language are described in The Xbook. is normally used with a large body of precompiled macros, and there are several specific formatting systems, such as X, which require the support of several macro files.

This version of looks at its command line to see what name it was called under. Both initex and virtex are symlinks to the tex executable. When called as initex (or when the --ini option is given) it can be used to precompile macros into a .fmt file. When called as virtex it will use the plain format. When called under any other name, will use that name as the name of the format to use. For example, when called as tex the tex format is used, which is identical to the plain format. The commands defined by the plain format are documented in The Xbook. Other formats that are often available include latex and amstex.

The commands given on the command line to the program are passed to it as the first input line. (But it is often easier to type extended arguments as the first input line, since UNIX shells tend to gobble up or misinterpret 's favorite symbols, like backslashes, unless you quote them.) As described in The Xbook, that first line should begin with a filename, a \controlsequence, or a &formatname.

The normal usage is to say

tex paper
to start processing paper.tex. The name paper will be the ``jobname'', and is used in forming output filenames. If doesn't get a filename in the first line, the jobname is texput. When looking for a file, looks for the name with and without the default extension (.tex) appended, unless the name already contains that extension. If paper is the ``jobname'', a log of error messages, with rather more detail than normally appears on the screen, will appear in paper.log, and the output file will be in paper.dvi.

will look in the first line of the file paper.tex to see if it begins with the magic sequence %&. If the first line begins with %&format --translate-file tcxname then will use the named format and transation table tcxname to process the source file. Either the format name or the --translate-file specification may be omitted, but not both.

The e response to 's error prompt causes the system default editor to start up at the current line of the current file. The environment variable TEXEDIT can be used to change the editor used. It may contain a string with "%s" indicating where the filename goes and "%d" indicating where the decimal line number (if any) goes. For example, a TEXEDIT string for emacs can be set with the sh command

TEXEDIT="emacs +%d %s"; export TEXEDIT

A convenient file in the library is null.tex, containing nothing. When can't find a file it thinks you want to input, it keeps asking you for another filename; responding `null' gets you out of the loop if you don't want to input anything. You can also type your EOF character (usually control-D).


This version of understands the following command line options.
--fmt format
Use format as the name of the format to be used, instead of the name by which was called or a %& line.
Print help message and exit.
Be initex, for dumping formats; this is implicitly true if the program is called as initex.
--interaction mode
Sets the interaction mode. The mode can be one of batchmode, nonstopmode, scrollmode, and errorstopmode. The meaning of these modes is the same as that of the corresponding \commands.
Send DVI output to a socket as well as the usual output file. Whether this option is available is the choice of the installer.
As --ipc, and starts the server at the other end as well. Whether this option is available is the choice of the installer.
--kpathsea-debug bitmask
Sets path searching debugging flags according to the bitmask. See the Kpathsea manual for details.
--maketex fmt
Enable mktexfmt, where fmt must be one of tex or tfm.
Enable ML extensions.
--no-maketex fmt
Disable mktexfmt, where fmt must be one of tex or tfm.
--output-comment string
Use string for the DVI file comment instead of the date.
--progname name
Pretend to be program name. This affects both the format used and the search paths.
Enable the \write18{command} construct. The command can be any Bourne shell command. This construct is normally disallowed for security reasons.
--translate-file tcxname
Use the tcxname translation table.
Print version information and exit.


See the Kpathsearch library documentation (the `Path specifications' node) for precise details of how the environment variables are used. The kpsewhich utility can be used to query the values of the variables.

One caveat: In most formats, you cannot use ~ in a filename you give directly to , because ~ is an active character, and hence is expanded, not taken as part of the filename. Other programs, such as , do not have this problem.

Normally, puts its output files in the current directory. If any output file cannot be opened there, it tries to open it in the directory specified in the environment variable TEXMFOUTPUT. There is no default value for that variable. For example, if you say tex paper and the current directory is not writable, if TEXMFOUTPUT has the value /tmp, attempts to create /tmp/paper.log (and /tmp/paper.dvi, if any output is produced.)
Search path for \input and \openin files. This should probably start with ``.'', so that user files are found before system files. An empty path component will be replaced with the paths defined in the texmf.cnf file. For example, set TEXINPUTS to ".:/home/usr/tex:" to prepend the current direcory and ``/home/user/tex'' to the standard search path.
Command template for switching to editor. The default, usually vi, is set when is compiled.


The location of the files mentioned below varies from system to system. Use the kpsewhich utility to find their locations.
Encoded text of 's messages.
Filename mapping definitions.
Metric files for 's fonts.
Predigested format (.fmt) files.
The basic macro package described in the Xbook.


This version of fails to trap arithmetic overflow when dimensions are added or subtracted. Cases where this occurs are rare, but when it does the generated DVI file will be invalid.

See Also

mf(1) ,
Donald E. Knuth, The Xbook, Addison-Wesley, 1986, ISBN 0-201-13447-0.
Leslie Lamport, X - A Document Preparation System, Addison-Wesley, 1985, ISBN 0-201-15790-X.
K. Berry, Eplain: Expanded plain ,
Michael Spivak, The Joy of X, 2nd edition, Addison-Wesley, 1990, ISBN 0-8218-2997-1.
TUGboat (the journal of the Users Group).


, pronounced properly, rhymes with ``blecchhh.'' The proper spelling in typewriter-like fonts is ``TeX'' and not ``TEX'' or ``tex.''


was designed by Donald E. Knuth, who implemented it using his system for Pascal programs. It was ported to Unix at Stanford by Howard Trickey, and at Cornell by Pavel Curtis. The version now offered with the Unix distribution is that generated by the to C system (web2c), originally written by Tomas Rokicki and Tim Morgan.

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