LaTeX, Part (2): Installing the Software

This is the installation order:

  1. MiKTeX
  2. Aspell
  3. Aspell dictionaries
  4. TeXmaker

By the way, if you are wanting to get outputs in postscript or dvi you’ll need to also get a viewer for these filetypes. I’m ignoring them, because most people will only be using pdf’s.

Install MiKTeX

Alright, so far so good. Now, look at your Desktop (or wherever your downloaded files go) and find the MiKTeX installer. It should be called something like “basic-miktex.2.7.2960.exe.” Double-click it. The first window that pops up will ask you to accept the copying conditions. Read through it if you wish, then click the box next to “I accept the MiKTeX copying conditions” to check it and click “Next.” The installer will then ask if it should install just for you or for anyone who uses the computer. It doesn’t really matter. If you have multiple accounts on XP and want anyone to be able to use it, go with the “anyone” option. If not, go with “only for me”. Click “Next.”

You’ll end up with this page:

You can go ahead and click “Next” if you like. However, I would delete the “2.7” part of the destination (as highlighted in the screenshot). Why?

MiKTeX is updated fairly frequently and each update ends up with a new number (the version number). So, every time you update you’ll get a differently named folder for all of MiKTeX’s components. This would cause your editor to not be able to find your TeX programs anymore unless you go into the editor’s settings and tell it where MiKTeX has moved to. You can prevent this annoyance by deleting the version number every time you update, so the location of your MiKTeX files will never change.

After you have changed the destination as I explained above (or not), clikc “Next.” It will then ask for your preferred paper, which is just so MiKTeX knows what size paper you’ll be printing to. I use A4. This can be changed later, so don’t worry if you pick the wrong thing.

It also gives a preference option for “install missing packages on the fly.” You should choose “yes” from the dropdown menu. I’ll explain packages later, but these are basically little pieces of code you add to your documents that extend functionality. MiKTeX comes with a bunch pre-installed, but there might come along one that it doesn’t have. By saying “yes” to the question, you are allowing MiKTeX to search for and download any packages that you call for in your document that MiKTeX doesn’t already have. It will make things easier. Click “Next” and then “Start.” MiKTeX will start installing, and it’s going to take a while. Wait until it’s finished before you move on.

When the installation is done, you’ll be able to click “Next” again and then “Done.” Now you have MiKTeX installed!

Install Aspell

After MiKTeX has finished installing, go back to your Desktop and double-click Aspell. You can read through the GNU license if you want, and then click “Next.”

I would just let Aspell install where it wants to (into your Program Files folder), but you can change this if you want. Make sure you don’t forget where you put it, though, since TeXmaker will have to find it later. Click “Next.”

You don’t need a Start Menu shortcut, since you’ll likely never use Aspell by itself, so click the box at the bottom that says “Don’t create Start Menu folder” and then “Next.”

The installer gives you two more options. I wouldn’t check either. If you do, it will allow you to send files to Aspell for spell checking. This could certainly be useful, but most programs you use will have built-in spell checkers. If you have one that doesn’t, it might not hurt to check those boxes. Click “Next” and then “Install, then “Next” again. You’ll end up at a page that let’s you click “Finish.” By default, it checks the box next to “View manual.html.” Uncheck this if you don’t want to read it. Click “Finish.”

Now you have a spell checker! But no dictionary…

Go back to the Desktop and double-click the dictionary installer. It should be called something like “Aspell-en-0.50-2-3.exe,” where the “en” part means “english.” You’ll go through pretty much the exact same process, and can pretty much hit “Next” all the way through without changing anything. The only thing you may want to do is tell it not to make a Start Menu folder.

At last, now you have MiKTeX and a spell checker. All that remains is your editor.

Install TeXmaker

Double-click the TeXmaker installer (called “texmakerwin32_install.exe”). You’ll see the GNU license again; go ahead and agree to it. You’ll next need to choose where you want it installed (I would just go with the default) and then click “Install.” Easy, right?

You’ll notice it put a shortcut on your Desktop without asking permission. If you like that sort of thing, leave it. If you like a clean Desktop, as I do, then delete it. Later I’ll write something up about the little program Launchy, which makes it so you don’t need any desktop shortcuts ever.

Anyway. You now have a (nearly) fully functional LaTeX system! You can go on the next post, which will discuss configuration of TeXmaker, but I would suggest that you go ahead and update MiKTeX first. Do this by clicking “Start,” then “all programs,” then “MiKTeX 2.7,” and finally “update:”

Of the settings that come up, leave them all at their defaults and hit “Next.”

You’ll notice one of the defaults is “use random repository.” A “repository” is a place that stores code, software, and the like. When you told MiKTeX to use a random repository, it simply means that it will choose a website from a list of known LaTeX repositories and then look there for updated versions of its “packages.” Again, I’ll talk about packages more later.

After you’ve updated MiKTeX (or before, if you don’t want to wait), move on to get TeXmaker configured to do your bidding.

Back to Part (1) | Continue to Part (3)

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