What is good LaTeX editor software on Linux?

As you may already know, LaTeX is an extremely useful document markup language. Whether it is for a research paper, a math homework, a presentation, or a fancy resume, LaTeX is pretty much the go to language. However, its syntax can be a bit confusing at first, and it is recommended, at least in the beginning, to use a LaTeX editor software. Now I know that a real purist would do everything using Vim or Emacs, and please put those stones down. Some LaTex editors on Linux are actually pretty well thought and can prove to be quite useful too. I will present to you three of those editors, which in my opinion are worth a shot as their philosophies are different, and appropriate and to any situations.

Just as a reminder, you need of course to have Tex Live or another TeX distribution installed before you try any of these editors. If you are running Ubuntu/Debian, you can read about it here. If you are running Archlinux, the wiki page is where you should look. And in general, any distribution will have it in their repositories and wiki.

1. Gummi

Let's start with an editor that I particularly like for its design: Gummi. Gummi is simple and minimalist. I would recommend it for a complete beginner to LaTeX as you are not overflowed with information and buttons and shortcuts everywhere. As you can see the interface is very intuitive: you type on the left side, and the right side is automatically compiled and updated. The most advanced aspect of this editor is probably the bibliography management using BibTeX. So as you can guess, its simplicity is both its charm and its limitation. I like to use it to quickly correct a document, or type something basic. But it definitely is not appropriate for a big document, with complicated formulas and advanced structure.

If you want to check out Gummi, you can install it with:

$ sudo apt-get install gummi (on Debian or Ubuntu)
$ sudo pacman -S gummi (on Archlinux)
$ sudo yum install gummi (on Fedora)

2. Texmaker

Probably my favorite LaTeX editor out there, Texmaker compensates for everything that Gummi does not have. We find again the double panel system, with the editor on one side and the preview on the other, but this time you may notice a third panel to the left which shows a tree of your documents and their structure. If it may seem a little confusing at first, it is actually very useful to keep track of what is going on in a large document. Texmaker is also full of shortcuts which can come in handy if you are typing the same formulas over and over (I particularly used Ctrl+Shift+D for subscript). Finally it also comes with BibTeX and can convert to bunch of different formats with just one stroke.

You can install Texmaker with:

$ sudo apt-get install texmaker (for Debian or Ubuntu)
$ sudo pacman -S texmaker (for Archlinux)
$ sudo yum texmaker (for Fedora)

3. TeXlipse

Finally, not my favorite, but worth mentioning, TeXlipse is a plugin to the popular IDE Eclipse, which bring LaTeX capabilities to Eclipse. It does not have a preview panel built in like the two others, but instead you can choose your own document viewer and affect it to the preview button. If you are familiar with Eclipse, you will be pleased to be able to use the same shortcuts. And as always with an IDE like that, you are given a comprehensive project explorer and document structure manager.

To try TeXlipse, install it like any other Eclipse plugin: go to "Help", "Install new software", then add http://texlipse.sourceforge.net to the available software site list and install the plugin. If you do not have Eclipse, you can install it with:

$ sudo apt-get install eclipse (for Debian or Ubuntu)
$ sudo pacman -S eclipse (for Archlinux)
$ sudo yum install eclipse (for Fedora)

To conclude, I hope that at least one of these editors will work for you. There are tons of others out there, but these three stand out in my opinion. If you like are using another LaTeX editor, feel free to let us know in the comment.

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Adrien Brochard

I am a Linux aficionado from France. After trying multiple distributions, I finally settled for Archlinux. But I am always trying to improve my system by stacking up tips and tricks.

26 thoughts on “What is good LaTeX editor software on Linux?

  1. Emacs. It is very, very, very difficult to use anything else after learning to use it. And there's always so much more to learn! It's an editor that grows with you and helps you grow.

    • I completely agree.
      I've been using it for 30+ years. I'd be surprised to find anything else more versatile, powerful and worthwhile to explore.

  2. Having tried a load of LaTeX editors in the quest to find one with which I can type my Mathematics notes live in the lecture as they are being given, TeXmaker is my favourite.

    Why? It is in the repositories of most major Linux distributions, has almost every single symbol I need and I can find symbols quickly. You can also program key combinations to output custom combinations of text you use often.

    Two and a half years later, I'm now at the point where I can open up a text editor and just type my lecture notes live, compile the file at the end of the lecture and done.

    And this was done on Linux because compiling TeX documents in Windows is SO SLOW.

  3. I used to use Texmaker, it's excellent because it's got pretty much everything in one package (a PDF viewer, a latex environment with code completion, etc.). However, I currently use VIM, because of some very handy shortcuts. Plus, I had a glitch with printing where the texmaker PDF viewer would not reverse the pages. This meant I had to reorder all of the pages by hand, and I'm a very lazy person ;) naturally, I just changed the default options in lp, so I now use lpr for printing, pdflatex for generation, and VIM for writing.

  4. 1. You don' t want to learn how to use some piece of software that may or may not be out there for a long time. You want to learn latex and then find out the best way to use it. So I'd start with gummi and maybe later lyx with all it's options and bloat that it adds to the files.
    2. A very nice online / cloud editor with preview and collaboration options is sharelatex.com.

  5. I have a slight preference for Kile over TeXmaker for two reasons:
    - Kile is better integrated in KDE. It uses Katepart for the text editing bit, so the shortcuts, colour schemes etc. are the same as in standalone Kate. Since I use Kate for programming, that is very convenient for me. The downside of it is that if you don't use KDE, you have to install a ton of KDE libraries to use Kile.
    - If you use soft line wrapping together with indentation, Kile indents the whole wrapped line, while TeXmaker doesn't indent the wrapped part. I find that Kile's version structures the text more clearly.

      • I must admit there are some shortcomings, but after all I like the speed and that you can add you own environments and shortcuts easily in the tex.vim plugin file. E.g. for slides or others.

  6. Many thanks for your article. I just installed Texmaker, and it looks like the aid to using LaTeX that I've been looking for.

  7. LyX 2.1 was released April 25th, 2014. With a little investment in learning it, and with a little background LaTeX familiarity, you can do some fairly complicated things very easily. For example, use numerous classes, packages and fonts. And you can organize huge sets of documents for a book with ease.

  8. I used LyX for everything while getting my degree in Electrical Engineering: physics, labs, English, you name it. Initially, I was using Vim and LaTEX, but after discovering LyX, I never looked back.

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