the sane way of adding custom latex packages

over the last years, my collection of custom LaTeX packages grew. be it because i needed a newer version than the one available at ctan, to overwrite the behaviour of installed packages or because there simply wasn't a package available because i was too lazy to build one. yeah, it was the latter one in most cases.

and as i am really lazy i did not want to copy those packages into every new document/project folder. that meant i needed a way to somehow make different git repositories available to all LaTeX documents.

luckily LaTeX has support for a custom package directory, which should default to ~/texmf. as i did not want to clutter up my home directory, i wanted to change that directory to say ~/.texmf. now, there are two ways to do that: either you modify the TEXMFHOME variable in your texmf.conf, which, if you do use texlive, should be located in or around /usr/share/texlive/texmf/web2c/texmf.cnf. i did not like that approach because in some cases that specific file could be overwritten by an update of the ctan distribution. you can however export the TEXMFHOME variable pointing to the right directory.

of course the local texmf tree has to maintain the same directory structure as your installed tree. that is the reason why you can't simply point the TEXMFHOME variable to a bunch of git repositories. for LaTeX packages you must put your packages under $TEXMFHOME/tex/latex, if you want to install fonts or other stuff, this works the same way, you just need to put them under a different subdirectory. a nice thing is, that a local texmf tree does not have to be texhashed. so, once you put your packages into that directory, you're basically done. a final warning: be sure that the LaTeX packages do contain files the LaTeX compiler can read, for example be sure that .sty files are available and not the .dtx and .ins files which are used to generate a style file.

so, here comes tl;dr version of this:

mkdir ~/projects/tex
cd ~/projects/tex
git clone git://git.dgsiegel.net/latex-tangocolors.git
[...]
export TEXMFHOME=~/.texmf      # put this in your .bashrc, .zshrc, ...
mkdir -p ~/.texmf/tex
ln -s ~/projects/tex ~/.texmf/tex/latex