Latex is a known typesetting system.

Docker containers are ideal if you need an environment to compile sources without installing the actual compiler on your machine. A full latex installation uses quite a lot of space and containerizing the whole installation has many pros.

Latex image

To install your latex image, there’s nothing else to do than to pull blang/latex.

docker pull blang/latex

Of course you can build it by yourself, have a look at the Dockerfile.

This image contains a full latex installation but you might add some packages, so feel free to build your own image based on the Dockerfile.

Create an alias

To work with this container it’s much more comfortable if you create a small shell script.

exec docker run --rm -i --user="$(id -u):$(id -g)" -v $PWD:/data blang/latex "$@"

First let me explain what it does.

Since latex compiles sources, you need to map the sources via volume to docker: -v "$PWD:/data" mounts your current working directory to the containers /data, the working directory of the container.

You also want latex to work with your users UID and GID, otherwise you end up with directories owned by root. --user="$(id -u):$(id -g)"

Using the container

./ pdflatex example.tex

This command mounts your working directory as a volume and executes pdflatex example.tex. Simple as that.

You can execute every latex command using the prefix ./

Check out my example.tex to get started.

Small limitations

Since every execution of spins up a docker container, execution might be slower than a local installation, especially if you’re running pdflatex multiple time in one compile cycle.

Multiple executions:

./ pdflatex example.tex
./ pdflatex example.tex

Here’s a cool trick to work inside one container: /bin/sh -c "pdflatex example.tex && pdflatex example.tex"