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Useful software to start LaTeX

Thanks to Astozzia for her first contribution !!! She will talk us about some useful softwares to start Latex.

Introduction

To put it simple: you heard so much pros about LaTeX and how it can enhance the text you process, help you make (very good) presentations [1]. Resumes, draw figures, etc. Yes, you got it: there are alternatives for Word or Power Point, and once you “master” the tool, you are hooked ;-).

Note: this article is not meant to be exhaustive. It is rather an introduction for the beginners. If you need more in-dept, just ’google’ your inquiries or contact us!

1. Linux

Now, if you have Linux as OS (Operating System), the best software I can think of (and that I personally use for 3 years now) is Kile [2]. It’s a TeX and LaTeX editor for the KDE desktop environment. I has many features ranging from compiling, readily available commands, converting to dvi->ps->pdf and also html. The GUI interface makes it possible for beginners to avoid typing shell commands.
You will need to download teTeX - a bulky software! - which contains basic packages to be able to compile, view and convert your files. Additionally, KDVI, KGhostview and KPDF (or Acrobat Reader) are needed to view DVI, PS and PDF files, respectively.|K

You can find a general and rich documentation about LaTeX on Kile’s website (see Links below). By the way, all this software is as free as air!

2. Windows

Well, I am not that savvy with this part, but WinEdit is a good software under Windows. It has the inconvenient to be a shareware... Also, you need additional software such as MiKTeX, YAP (Yet Another Previewer) to view DVI files, Ghostscript and GSview for your PS (PostScipt) and PDF files.

3. Additional software

For figures, one can also download Xfig and Transfig which are useful if you want to draw your own basic figure. It has the advantage of directly converting your figures to EPS format (Encapsulated PostScript) which is by far the best with LaTeX. These goodies are avalable both for Linux and Windows.

4. What else?

teTeX and MiKTeX both come with basic packages necessary to properly perform compilation and conversion tasks. However, you may need some packages to make fancy stuff (fancy headings, mathematical operators and signs, exotic fonts, electronic symbols, etc). For this purpose, you can check the Comprehensive TeX Archive network website (CTAN).
Remember that whenever you download a new package, you have to update your path too:

a) Under Linux: in your /usr/local/share/texmf ,
you have an "ls-R" file that contains all the paths that your compiler (Kile) searches. After you download new packages, open a shell, log in as a root (su and your password), cd to ’/usr/local/share/texmf’ and type ’texhash’. There you are!

b) Under Windows: with MiKTeX, there is a feature to updating your paths. See the documentation.

3. Summary

To summarize what has been outlined below, here is what you should remember:

Linux Windows
Kile WinEdit
teTeX MiKTeX
KDVI YAP
KGhostview GSview
KPDF Adobe Reader

4. Links:

Kile: http://kile.sourceforge.net

WinEdit: http://www.winedt.com

Xfig / Transfig: http://www.xfig.org

MiKTeX: http://miktex.org

teTeX: http://www.tug.org/tetex

Ghostscript and GSview: http://www.ghostscript.com/awki


[1In a coming article, I will tell you more about making presentations without using Power Point, and thus avoiding all the hassle and stress

[2Kile is compatible with PC and PowerPC (eg. Mac) architectures.

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