How to Install TexLive to WebFaction Shared Hosting Account

What is TexLive?
You are reading this post probably because you know what TexLive and LaTex is, or maybe you are in search for a way to install LaTex for your website. But in case my assumption is wrong, LaTex is the math engine that render all the equations of If you want to know deeper, let the guys from LaTex and TexLive explain it to you. LaTex is a must if you run a website that engaged heavily in mathematical equations. Many are also using LaTex to convert their webpages into .pdf on the fly.

Why at WebFaction?
WebFaction is one of the few web hosting services that allow their costumers at shared environment to compile their own apps. In other web hosting company, you only have the ability to compile your own app if you are in a virtual private server or dedicated server. You know how costly these servers are compared to shared hosting. I may refer you to my previous post if you want to learn a little more about WebFaction.

Tools you need
Of course you need to have an account at WebFaction to do the TexLive installation. If you don't have an account, consider buying one here.

SSH Client
You need to use one to write your commands to your server. SSH is comparable to Command Prompt in MS Windows, only that it can connect directly to a remote computer, your server. A popular SSH client is Putty, it is great and used by many. You can download it here, don't worry, it's free.

FTP Client
The use of FTP client is to transfer file from your computer to your server and vice versa. We may not need FTP client for now because SSH client can transfer files from another server directly to your server which is faster and more convenient. But in case you want to download the file first to your computer before uploading it to your server, then you need FTP client. Also for many purposes like doing local backup and uploading/downloading large files, you really need an FTP client. I recommend FileZilla, it is also free and you can download it here.


Installation of TexLive

  1. Login to your WebFaction server with your SSH client. You need your WebFaction username and password to do this.
  2. FTP the TexLive compiler to your server. You can find the installer here: Choose the install-tl-unx.tar.gz file. To make it short, issue this command:


    It is a large file, so it may take several seconds to complete the download.

    The link from the above code is where you obtain the latest TexLive distribution. This may change in the future, so copy the link they provide and paste it to you wget command.

  3. With the install-tl-unx.tar.gz file in your server, untar it to uncompress the file.

    tar -zxvf install-tl-unx.tar.gz

    You will have a new folder in your account called install-tl-YYYYMMDD where YYYYMMDD are numbers related to date I guess.

  4. I strongly suggest you read the TexLive install guide here:

    Now change to your TexLive installation directory and run the installer.

    cd install-tl-YYYYMMDD

    Now the installer is running

  5. Before you hit i to install, you need to change first the default installation directory. This is important because being in shared hosting, you cannot compile apps outside your own user directory. To do this, hit d in your keyboard and enter. Select 1 from the menu to change installation directory. Response with


    then return to main menu, r.

  6. Now hit i to start the installation. It may take several minutes to finish the installation as you are installing about 3 GB of data to the hard disk of your server. And guess what, with 3 GB files you still have very very large space available in your server after the installation.
  7. After the installation is complete, add the directory of TeX Live binaries to your PATH.


    and you're done.

That's it, now you can use TexLive to your website.

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I will earn a small percentage from sales generated by the link. I will be using the amount to maintain my account at WebFaction.