The CTAN root directory

This is the root of the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network directory tree. Most information in CTAN is contained in subdirectories:

Systems for maintaining and presenting bibliographies within documents typeset using TeX
Collections of TeX mailing list digests, TeX-related `electronic magazines', and indexes, etc., of printed publications
Printer drivers and previewers, etc., for .dvi files
Fonts written in Metafont, and support for using fonts from other sources (e.g., those in Adobe Type 1 format)
Systems and TeX macros for producing graphics
FAQs (de fr uk) and similar direct assistance; the catalogue
Systems for maintaining and presenting indexes of documents typeset using TeX
Manuals and extended how-to information; errata for TeX-related publications, collections of project (e.g., LaTeX and NTS) documents, etc.
Support for various languages; hyphenation patterns
TeX macros; several directories have significant sub-trees:
The Context distribution
Macros that work in several environments
The LaTeX distribution and contributed matter
Donald Knuth's example macro set and contributed material
TeX support environments and the like
TeX systems; organised by operating environment, but also including:
Donald Knuth's current distribution
Complete systems that can potentially operate in more than one operating environment
The TeX Directory Structure standard (the output of the TUG TDS working group)
Tools of use for the archive maintainers (including mirrors of the source of the compression tools the archives use)
Information supplied by TeX User Groups
`Literate Programming' tools and systems

In addition, there are two `shadow hierarchies'. Each of these maintains the same structure as the main tree -- for example, nonfree/systems has the same basic structure as systems, obsolete/macros has the same basic structure as macros.

Material which is not freely-usable (shareware, or of restricted usage, such as no-commercial or no-military use, or may not be included in commercial distributions -- see licensing, below). Users of the archive should check that they are entitled to use material downloaded from the nonfree/ tree.
Material which is now obsolete, but which needs to remain on the archive for some reason (such as the 1992 LaTeX 2.09 distribution).

The nonfree/ shadow hierarchy is mirrored (by Un*x-style `soft links') in the main (or occasionally the obsolete) hierarchy; the FILES.* files only list instances of such items in the nonfree/ hierarchy.

Searching CTAN

Searching is a topic which is under active development: the CTAN team hope to be able shortly to provide significant new tools. In the interim, we can offer Jim Hefferon's CTAN Search page (note: this page sets a cookie to record what you believe to be your best CTAN mirror).

The CTAN team also strongly recommend use of the TeX Catalogue Online, CTAN Edition

In addition, CTAN archives maintain lists of their contents as plain text files, in a number of ways:

  1. Sorted by name
  2. (These are big files...around 4M bytes)
  3. Sorted by date
  4. Sorted by size
  5. New or changed in the last 7 days (This is usually a more manageable size...)

Licence terms for the nonfree/ tree

Details of the licensing categories employed on CTAN (and used in the Catalogue) are given in Graham Williams's licensing page.

CTAN's nonfree/ tree is for distributions whose licences are nosell, nocommercial, shareware, `other' (said to be "probably commercial"), or unknown.

Note that distributions whose licences are the non-`Debian'-free category nosource is not moved to the nonfree/ tree; CTAN is concerned with distributability, rather than the broader modifiability, etc., that the free software movement seeks.

The process of populating the nonfree/ tree is still `work in progress'; the CTAN team moves distributions there as they come to the team's attention. Comments about classification should be sent to the CTAN team as a whole.

This is an experimental page. Comments, to the CTAN team, will be most welcome.

Page maintained by Robin Fairbairns.