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21.9 Preparing for TeX

TeX needs to know where to find the texinfo.tex file that the ‘\input texinfo’ command on the first line reads. The texinfo.tex file tells TeX how to handle @-commands; it is included in all standard GNU distributions. The latest version is always available from the Texinfo source repository:

Usually, the installer has put the texinfo.tex file in the default directory that contains TeX macros when GNU Texinfo, Emacs or other GNU software is installed. In this case, TeX will find the file and you do not need to do anything special. If this has not been done, you can put texinfo.tex in the current directory when you run TeX, and TeX will find it there.

Also, you should install epsf.tex, if it is not already installed from another distribution. More details are at the end of the description of the @image command (see Images).

To be able to use quotation marks other than those used in English you’ll need to install European Computer Modern fonts and optionally CM-Super fonts, unless they are already installed (see Inserting Quotation Marks).

If you intend to use the @euro command, you should install the Euro font, if it is not already installed. See @euro.

Optionally, you may create a file texinfo.cnf for site configuration. This file is read by TeX when the @setfilename command is executed (see @setfilename). You can put any commands you like there, according to local site-wide conventions. They will be read by TeX when processing any Texinfo document. For example, if texinfo.cnf contains the line ‘@afourpaper’ (see A4 Paper), then all Texinfo documents will be processed with that page size in effect. If you have nothing to put in texinfo.cnf, you do not need to create it.

If neither of the above locations for these system files suffice for you, you can specify the directories explicitly. For texinfo.tex, you can do this by writing the complete path for the file after the \input command. Another way, that works for both texinfo.tex and texinfo.cnf (and any other file TeX might read), is to set the TEXINPUTS environment variable in your .profile or .cshrc file.

Whether you use .profile or .cshrc depends on whether you use a Bourne shell-compatible (sh, bash, ksh, …) or C shell-compatible (csh, tcsh) command interpreter, respeictvely.

In a .profile file, you could use the following sh command sequence:


While in a .cshrc file, you could use the following csh command sequence:

setenv TEXINPUTS .:/home/me/mylib:

On MS-DOS/MS-Windows, you would say it like this6:

set TEXINPUTS=.;d:/home/me/mylib;c:

It is customary for DOS/Windows users to put such commands in the autoexec.bat file, or in the Windows registry.

These settings would cause TeX to look for \input file first in the current directory, indicated by the ‘.’, then in a hypothetical user ‘me’’s mylib directory, and finally in the system directories. (A leading, trailing, or doubled ‘:’ indicates searching the system directories at that point.)

Finally, you may wish to dump a .fmt file (see Memory dumps in Web2C) so that TeX can load Texinfo faster. (The disadvantage is that then updating texinfo.tex requires redumping.) You can do this by running this command, assuming epsf.tex is findable by TeX:

initex texinfo @dump

(dump is a TeX primitive.) Then, move texinfo.fmt to wherever your .fmt files are found; typically, this will be in the subdirectory web2c of your TeX installation.



Note the use of the ‘;’ character as directory separator, instead of ‘:’.

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