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Acquiring the Software

Repositories of TeX material

To aid the archiving and retrieval of of TeX-related files, a TUG working group developed the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN). Each CTAN site has identical material, and maintains authoritative versions of its material. These collections are extensive; in particular, almost everything mentioned in this article is archived at the CTAN sites, even if its location isn't explicitly stated.

The CTAN sites are currently dante.ctan.org, cam.ctan.org and tug.ctan.org. The organisation of TeX files on all these sites is identical and starts at tex-archive/. To reduce network load, please use the CTAN site or mirror closest to you. A complete and current list of CTAN sites and known mirrors can be obtained by using the finger utility on `user' ctan@cam.ctan.org, ctan@dante.ctan.org or ctan@tug.ctan.org; it is also available as file CTAN.sites

To find software at a CTAN site, use anonymous ftp to the host, and then execute the command `quote site index <term>' (see finding files for details).

The email server ftpmail@ftp.dante.de provides an ftp-like interface through mail. Send a message containing just the line `help' to your nearest server for details of use.

Users on BITNET may access anonymous ftp for some files indirectly by sending mail to BITFTP@PUCC.BITNET. Send a message containing the line `help' to this address for more information. There is also the DECUS TeX collection of material for VMS, Unix, MS-DOS, and the Macintosh. It is available via anonymous ftp from wuarchive.wustl.edu ( in decus/tex/. It can also be obtained from the DECUS Library (reference number VS0058) in the US, or through your DECUS office outside of the US. To contact the DECUS Library, send mail or telephone:

334 South Street, SHR3-1/T25
Shrewsbury, MA 01545-4195
Tel: 800-DECUS55 (within the USA, for information)
Fax: (+1) 508-841-3373 (for inquiries)
or send electronic mail for information to the DECUS TeX Collection Editor, Ted Nieland (nieland@ted.hcst.com).

Finally, of course, the TeX user who has no access to any sort of network may buy a copy of the archive on CD-ROM (see TeX CD-ROMs).

Contributing a file to the archives

Use anonymous ftp to any CTAN archive (see sources of software) and retrieve the file README.uploads in the root directory. It contains instructions for uploading files and notifying the appropriate people for that site.

If you cannot use ftp, mail your contribution to ctan@urz.Uni-Heidelberg.de and it will be passed along. You will make everyone's life easier if you choose a descriptive and unique name for your submission, so it's probably a good idea to check that your style file's name is not already in use by means of the `site index' command (finding files in the archives).

Finding new fonts

A comprehensive list of METAFONT fonts is posted to comp.fonts and to comp.text.tex, roughly every six weeks, by Lee Quin (lee@sq.sq.com); it is available as info/metafont-list

The list contains details both of commercial fonts and of fonts available via anonymous ftp. Most of the fonts are available via anonymous ftp from the CTAN archives (see sources of software).


If you don't have access to the Internet, there are obvious attractions to TeX collections on a CD-ROM. Even those with net access will find large quantities of TeX-related files to hand a great convenience.

Ready-to-run TeX systems on CD-ROM are available:

An alternative to the ready-to-run system is the CTAN archive snapshot; in general one would expect that such systems would be harder to use, but that the volume of resources offered would balance this extra inconvenience.

Walnut Creek CDROM provide a two-disc CD-ROM set, holding 1000Mb of TeX-related material. Information about the CD-ROM is available at http://www.cdrom.com/titles/prog/tex.html, which also has a link to an ordering page. Walnut Creek's address, etc., are:

Walnut Creek CDROM
4041 Pike Lane, Ste D-www
Concord, CA 94520
Tel: (+1) 510 674-0783 or 800 786-9907 (within the USA and Canada)
Fax: (+1) 510 674-0821
Email: info@cdrom.com (for questions) and orders@cdrom.com (for orders)
Walnut Creek (who run one of the major CTAN mirrors) are rumoured to be producing a new release of their disc set in 1997.

Prime Time Freeware produced TeXcetera 1.1 in July 1994, which was a snapshot of CTAN taken in June 1994. Regular updates were planned (but have not apparently been forthcoming). The material is all compressed in ZIP format to fit it all on one CD, and to avoid the limitations of the ISO 9660 file system directory. You can buy the CD from:

Prime Time Freeware
370 Altair Way, Suite 150
Sunnyvale CA 94086
Tel: (+1) 408 433 9662
Fax: (+1) 408 433 0727
Email: ptf@cfcl.com
or from many CD-ROM resellers, or the TUG office. Price will be around $60. Please note that PTF is not a big commercial firm, and is a good friend of the TeX community.
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