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etex - Man Page

extended (plain) TeX


etex [options] [&format] [file|\commands]


Run the e-T E X typesetter on file, by default creating file.dvi. If the file argument has no extension, ".tex" will be appended to it.  Instead of a filename, a set of e-T E X commands can be given, the first of which must start with a backslash. With a &format argument e-T E X uses a different set of precompiled commands, contained in format.fmt; it is usually better to use the -fmt format option instead.

e-T E X is the first concrete result of an international research & development project, the NTS Project, which was established under the aegis of DANTE e.V. during 1992. The aims of the project are to perpetuate and develop the spirit and philosophy of T E X, whilst respecting Knuth's wish that T E X should remain frozen.

e-T E X can be used in two different modes: in compatibility mode it is supposed to be completely interchangable with standard T E X. In extended mode several new primitives are added that facilitate (among other things) bidirectional typesetting.

An extended mode format is generated by prefixing the name of the source file for the format with an asterisk (*).

e-T E X's handling of its command-line arguments is similar to that of the other T E X programs in the web2c implementation.


This version of e-T E X understands the following command line options.

-fmt format

Use format as the name of the format to be used, instead of the name by which e-T E X was called or a %& line.


Enable the encT E X extensions.  This option is only effective in combination with -ini. For documentation of the encT E X extensions see http://www.olsak.net/enctex.html.


Enable the e-T E X extensions.  This option is only effective in combination with -ini.


Print error messages in the form file:line:error which is similar to the way many compilers format them.


Disable printing error messages in the file:line:error style.


This is the old name of the -file-line-error option.


Exit with an error code when an error is encountered during processing.


Print help message and exit.


Start in INI mode, which is used to dump formats.  The INI mode can be used for typesetting, but no format is preloaded, and basic initializations like setting catcodes may be required.

-interaction mode

Sets the interaction mode.  The mode can be either batchmode, nonstopmode, scrollmode, and errorstopmode. The meaning of these modes is the same as that of the corresponding \commands.


Send DVI output to a socket as well as the usual output file.  Whether this option is available is the choice of the installer.


As -ipc, and starts the server at the other end as well.  Whether this option is available is the choice of the installer.

-jobname name

Use name for the job name, instead of deriving it from the name of the input file.

-kpathsea-debug bitmask

Sets path searching debugging flags according to the bitmask.  See the Kpathsea manual for details.

-mktex fmt

Enable mktexfmt, where fmt must be either tex or tfm.


Enable MLT E X extensions.  Only effective in combination with -ini.

-no-mktex fmt

Disable mktexfmt, where fmt must be either tex or tfm.

-output-comment string

Use string for the DVI file comment instead of the date.

-output-directory directory

Write output files in directory instead of the current directory.  Look up input files in directory first, the along the normal search path.


If the first line of the main input file begins with %& parse it to look for a dump name or a -translate-file option.


Disable parsing of the first line of the main input file.

-progname name

Pretend to be program name. This affects both the format used and the search paths.


Enable the filename recorder.  This leaves a trace of the files opened for input and output in a file with extension .fls.


Enable the \write18{command} construct.  The command can be any shell command.  This construct is normally disallowed for security reasons.


Disable the \write18{command} construct, even if it is enabled in the texmf.cnf file.


Insert source specials into the DVI file.

-src-specials where

Insert source specials in certain placed of the DVI file. where is a comma-separated value list: cr, display, hbox, math, par, parent, or vbox.

-translate-file tcxname

Use the tcxname translation table to set the mapping of input characters and re-mapping of output characters.

-default-translate-file tcxname

Like -translate-file except that a %& line can overrule this setting.


Print version information and exit.


See the Kpathsearch library documentation (the `Path specifications' node) for precise details of how the environment variables are used. The kpsewhich utility can be used to query the values of the variables.

One caveat: In most e-T E X formats, you cannot use ~ in a filename you give directly to e-T E X, because ~ is an active character, and hence is expanded, not taken as part of the filename.  Other programs, such as METAFONT, do not have this problem.


Normally, e-T E X puts its output files in the current directory.  If any output file cannot be opened there, it tries to open it in the directory specified in the environment variable TEXMFOUTPUT. There is no default value for that variable.  For example, if you say etex paper and the current directory is not writable, if TEXMFOUTPUT has the value /tmp, e-T E X attempts to create /tmp/paper.log (and /tmp/paper.dvi, if any output is produced.)  TEXMFOUTPUT is also checked for input files, as T E X often generates files that need to be subsequently read; for input, no suffixes (such as “.tex”) are added by default, the input name is simply checked as given.


Search path for \input and \openin files. This should start with “.”, so that user files are found before system files.  An empty path component will be replaced with the paths defined in the texmf.cnf file.  For example, set TEXINPUTS to ".:/home/user/tex:" to prepend the current direcory and “/home/user/tex” to the standard search path.


Search path for format files.


search path for etex internal strings.


Command template for switching to editor.  The default, usually vi, is set when e-T E X is compiled.


Search path for font metric (.tfm) files.


The location of the files mentioned below varies from system to system.  Use the kpsewhich utility to find their locations.


Text file containing e-T E X's internal strings.


Filename mapping definitions.


Metric files for e-T E X's fonts.


Predigested e-T E X format (.fmt) files.


Starting with version 1.40, pdfT E X incorporates the e-T E X extensions, so in this installation eT E X may be just a symbolic link to pdfT E X.  See pdftex(1). This manual page is not meant to be exhaustive.  The complete documentation for this version of e-T E X can be found in the info manual Web2C: A TeX implementation.


This version of e-T E X implements a number of optional extensions. In fact, many of these extensions conflict to a greater or lesser extent with the definition of e-T E X.  When such extensions are enabled, the banner printed when e-T E X starts is changed to print e-TeXk instead of e-TeX.

This version of e-T E X fails to trap arithmetic overflow when dimensions are added or subtracted.  Cases where this occurs are rare, but when it does the generated DVI file will be invalid.

See Also

pdftex(1), tex(1), mf(1).


e-T E X was developed by Peter Breitenlohner and the NTS team; Peter later continued its development outside of the team.

T E X was designed by Donald E. Knuth, who implemented it using his WEB system for Pascal programs. It was ported to Unix at Stanford by Howard Trickey, and at Cornell by Pavel Curtis. The version now offered with the Unix T E X distribution is that generated by the WEB to C system (web2c), originally written by Tomas Rokicki and Tim Morgan.

The encT E X extensions were written by Petr Olsak.

Referenced By

fmtutil.cnf(5), hitex(1), luatex(1), musixtex(1), pdftex(1), ptex(1), xetex(1).

1 March 2011 Web2C 2015