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Debian Linux 686 Installation Guide

WARNINGS: There is no warranty of any kind on this free software. And there are copyrights by various authors.


This installation should work for Ubuntu and Debian linux 32 bit 686 versions (The author uses it on his own Intel Ubuntu system.) There is also a 64 bit version. (But the 32 bit version will work on 64 bit if you install compatibility libraries.) For other linux flavors, it will only work for Intel linux versions that are binary compatible with Debian 32/64 bit. For other systems, look at installing on other operating systems.

Example installation

There is a graphical example installation available, in case you want more help after reading the steps in the next section. It installs everything you need from scratch on an Ubuntu 13.04 machine. It starts with installing Ubuntu 13.04 (old style), then all required software, not just l2h, and ends with fully processing the example document.

Installation procedure

Note: These instructions assume that you are installing l2h through a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to click files in folders and such. If you have no GUI, like when you are using "Putty" or "ssh" to access a remote computer, see nonGUI.html for how to compensate.

The installation involves the following basic steps

  1. Install tex-live including at least texlive-*-common, texlive-*-base, and texlive-generic-recommended (you need epsf). If you want to write in Greek or in non-Western-European languages, you also need texlive-xetex, texlive-latex-extra, (including makecmds and etoolbox), and the Linux Libertine O fonts. Also install tcsh, as /usr/bin/tcsh, perl, ghostscript, pdftk, pdftops, and netpbm. You would normally use your package manager (Synaptic, Ubuntu Software Center, apt, dpkg, ...) to do these things. Note: LaTeX, perl, and ghostscript are the minimum; l2h will not process any documents without.
  2. Login as the user you will be when processing LaTeX documents. (If you want to install as root for multiple users, or use a RAM disk, see the FAQ.)
  3. Download or (If you need the 64 bit version, use either or This is almost 20 Mbytes, or over 50 Mbytes unzipped. Have your download manager extract the folder l2h to some suitable location. Your desktop is a good location. (You cannot use l2h before you extract it). Make sure your download manager keeps the directory (folder) structure intact. Or else. (If unsure, create a temporary folder on the desktop, call it temp. Move the zip file into temp and extract it there. Or probably better, drag l2h out of and put it in temp. When done, drag folder l2h out of temp and delete temp.)
  4. Open the extracted folder l2h and double-click "install_l2h". This opens a terminal. In the terminal type
    cd Desktop/l2h
    and press Enter. That assumes that you extracted l2h to your desktop. If you extracted it to your HOME folder, enter instead
    cd l2h
    If you extracted it somewhere else, use the corresponding cd command. (Pressing the Tab key after "cd " is a helpful way to examine the possible places to cd to.) (Note: some versions of linux, like Xubuntu, will open the terminal already in the l2h folder. In that case, there is no need to do the cd commands. Try "pwd" to check.)
  5. After a successful cd into the l2h folder, issue the command:
    Follow the instructions on the screen. Normally, you just hit Enter for each question. (If it complains about missing unix utilities, install them and try again. This should not really happen though. The used utilities are very basic unix ones.)
  6. If the installation does not create error messages, that should be it. You should see a congratulatory message. If not, there was a problem. A web page "how_to_get_started" should open in your default browser. If not, open the web page manually. It is the "help-files" folder of l2h.

L2h requires that terminals open as 24 lines of 80 characters (or more). That should be the default. Unfortunately, it is not always. If not, try playing with the settings in the terminal menu. After changing the size to 80x24, you may need to press the "-" key to get things to refresh.

It is recommended that you enable the terminal bell if possible. The current way to do that on Ubuntu 12.04 is, no kidding,

Yes this is ridiculously complicated for a feature that should be enabled in a terminal by default. That is a standard requirement of most programming languages and scripting languages. A user should have to turn the bell off, at the user's own risk.

The current way to do this in Xubuntu 12.04 (xfce) is, no kidding,

Unfortunately, newer versions of linux operating systems are often not compatible with older ones. The credo of linux is: "If it works, change it. If it does not work, file a bug report." If you have a problem installing l2h to a newly revised Debian-type operating system, contact Leon van Dommelen for advice. For other installation problems, first look in trouble_shooting.

Important: Updating l2h

Whenever you move l2h elsewhere, (which you should avoid doing if possible), you must rerun install_l2h. Before doing so, exit all other l2h windows. Afterwards you will also need to update all document folders outside l2h that you are still working on. To update a document folder, replace the "l2h_menu" file in it by a copy of the updated one in the "example" folder of l2h.


L2h makes zero changes to your system. Simply delete the l2h folder and the zip file in which you downloaded it and it is completely gone. The other software you may have installed in order to use l2h, like LaTeX, perl, ghostscript, pdftk, and pdftops will have to be uninstalled each separately, typically using your package manager.
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