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Lyx - WYSIWYM Document Processing

By duncan bayne in Op-Ed
Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:43:47 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

WYSIWYG is dead; long live WYSIWYM - What You See Is What You Mean!

Well, perhaps that's an exaggeration. WYSIWYG seemed like a great idea last century ;-). With all the latest display and print technology, one could craft a document on screen and see it how it would be printed. The WYSIWYG paradigm has become so entrenched in UI design it's almost taken for granted by users and developers.

However, there are issues with WYSIWYG. Although WYSIWYG is unsurpassed for complicated graphical layouts, as anyone who's worked with a WYSIWYG word processor like Word knows, it's time-consuming to change your mind about the layout of your document after it's complete, especially if it spans multiple pages. Worse, it's very, very difficult to have multiple styles for your document, and it's very easy to trash the layout of your document by accident, while changing the content.

For example, say you've written a magazine article, and want to send it in PDF format to a publisher, but you also want to provide it in a friendly screen-readable PDF document to put up on your website. Obviously, you'd want two very different layout styles, and there's just no easy way of doing that with a WYSIWYG package like Word; the layout information is an integral part of the document. Finally, there are issues relating to display drivers, print drivers, page size, and fonts which mean that it's highly unlikely that WYSIWYG - WYSIWYGOnASimilarMachineOnAGoodDay is closer to the truth.

I have been doing a fair bit of writing lately; I've been working on an article for the FreeRadical (disclaimer: I'm also the webmaster for that magazine), and my first book, which is proving harder & more time consuming than I first estimated. I've been using Lyx, a WYSIWYM document processor, running on Mandrake Linux and WindowMaker.

In Lyx, the user works with the document content and structure. You enter text, and mark lines and paragraphs appropriately; for example, as Title, Author, Section, Quote, etc. If you want to enter a footnote, choose "Add Footnote" from the menu, and enter your footnote in the red box that appears in the text at the point of entry. It's all structural, and designed to be easy to edit, read, and proof-read. A friendly GUI makes working with the document even easier, although of course, being an X-Windows application, there are keyboard shortcuts for everything should you prefer.

Once you're happy with your document structure and content, you can get Lyx to export into one of many formats, including Tex and PDF, and HTML (using a utility like latex2html) for web content. The formatting used during export is specified in text style sheets, which are easily modifiable from the defaults to allow you to control exactly how your document looks, in whatever format you choose. That said, I've found the default style sheets perfectly adequate for my needs.

Lyx itself is quite small, and runs adequately on my P150 with 48MB RAM (although PDF export of even a small document takes about a minute or so). It's very stable, although as it makes extensive use of Tex, that shouldn't come as a surprise. There is a port of Lyx available for MS Windows as well. All Lyx files are ASCII, and well documented, so there's little danger of being bitten by upgrades or lack of support; indeed, many Lyx users cite data safety as a key factor in their decision to use Lyx.

Lyx and Lyx documentation can be obtained from the following sites:

Further useful information about Lyx can be obtained from these sites:


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


My favourite document / word - processor is
o Abiword 4%
o Ami Pro 2%
o KOffice 1%
o Lyx 7%
o Microsoft Office 9%
o Microsoft Works 0%
o OpenOffice 14%
o StarOffice 0%
o Tex / LaTex + Text Editor 23%
o TeXmacs 0%
o Text Editor (vi, emacs, jEdit ...) 25%
o WordPerfect 3%
o Other 7%

Votes: 169
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o FreeRadica l
o Lyx
o Mandrake Linux
o WindowMake r
o friendly GUI
o latex2html
o my P150 with 48MB RAM
o Lyx - The Document Processor
o Apple Downloads - LyX/Mac
o LyX port for Windows 9x/ME/NT/XP/2000
o The LYX Tutorial
o Writing Self-Published Books with Lyx
o Also by duncan bayne

Display: Sort:
Lyx - WYSIWYM Document Processing | 117 comments (95 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
dear god shut up (1.00 / 33) (#7)
by Liberal Conservative on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:05:37 AM EST

if i read one more lame 2 sentence "world premier breaking news release" about some shitty piece of open sauce crapplication put together on a boring friday night in the computer lab at state U i'm gonna cut my nads off and feed em to rusty's dog

miserable failure

   liberal conservative

Well, just yesterday I heard about ... [n/t] (none / 0) (#11)
by duncan bayne on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:00:41 AM EST

[ Parent ]
When you do... (3.00 / 5) (#15)
by BJH on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:16:13 AM EST

...make sure to vidcap it and post on teh Intarweb pls ok tnx.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Actually (2.25 / 4) (#23)
by JetJaguar on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:38:01 AM EST

LaTeX and TeX, the engine that LyX is based on, is not some crappy piece of software. Professional publishers all over the world use these tools, and there are a hell of a lot of books on the market that have been published over the last 20 years based on this "shitty piece of open sauce crapplication." In fact, the underlying engine was written by Donald Knuth, one of the better computer scientists of our time. He knows his shit, much butter than some craptastic programmer in Redmond.

[ Parent ]
you ever wonder if Knuth woke up one day (none / 0) (#117)
by modmans2ndcoming on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 03:45:17 AM EST

and was attempting to type out a paper on his AT&T box and said

"this is no better than my damned Selectra!!!! screw it, I will write my own tools for making a document and it will actually USE the computer to make the damn thing"

then he proceeded to lock himself in a dark room for a year until he came out with the first version of Tex, at which point he began demanding that all papers for his classes be written in Tex?

[ Parent ]

Always good to bring up LyX (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by regeya on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:54:07 AM EST

LyX--for people who don't want to learn much about LaTeX. ;-D

I always feel weird advocating LyX, because WYSIWYG-based design buys my groceries, keeps the lights on, and keeps the car payments paid. But when I'm not designing, and am instead doing something like writing documents, I prefer LyX, to a certain extent.

Word processors aren't nearly as bad as they used to be, either. It's been a while since I attempted to write a large document in a word processor, but many word processors have tools that make things like, say, maintaining a Table of Contents much easier. Maybe not as easy as LyX, but pretty close.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

The catch is... (none / 1) (#68)
by Coryoth on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:50:02 AM EST

Word processors aren't nearly as bad as they used to be, either. It's been a while since I attempted to write a large document in a word processor, but many word processors have tools that make things like, say, maintaining a Table of Contents much easier. Maybe not as easy as LyX, but pretty close.

The catch is when the word processor gets it wrong.  Once MS Word has its autogenerated table of contents screw up its formatting, or just generally break, it can be hours of work to manage to get things working again, if you can at all.  LyX, though much more so LaTeX, has that beautiful ability to just say "No, damnit, I want you to do exactly this" and straighten it out in moments.


[ Parent ]

Of course (none / 0) (#72)
by MrLaminar on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:29:55 AM EST

doing otherwise trivial stuff like inserting a big table is a long and tedious process for someone who hasn't spent whole hours trying to find out how linebreaks, widths and alignments work...

"Travel & Education. They will make you less happy. They will make you more tolerable to good people and less tolerable to bad people." - bobzibub
[ Parent ]
Think Framemaker replacement (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:00:57 AM EST

While LyX may not have all the bells and whistles and may not be buzzword compliant, we've used LyX to replace Framemaker for documentation and similar tasks.

Its a great product that not too many people know about yet.

No thanks (1.66 / 3) (#28)
by onealone on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:41:15 PM EST

Looks vaguely interesting but too many prerequisits to run under Windows.

That's what you get for using a toy OS :-) [n/t] (2.00 / 3) (#35)
by duncan bayne on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:31:47 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Vote - Notepad (none / 1) (#30)
by onealone on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:49:05 PM EST

As opposed to nasty obsfucated things like Vi and Emacs.

Notepad (none / 0) (#36)
by zrail on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:32:29 PM EST

I'll say this: It's okay. It's the first editor that I ever really used, and therefore holds a special place in my heart. However, there are far better alternatives out there that look at work like it, for free even.

I'm really beginning to like vi, though. I wish I could get the keybindings or editing modes in Dreamweaver, which I'm forced to use at work (not for WYSIWYG, just as an editor).

[ Parent ]

My first editor: edlin /nt (none / 0) (#46)
by Theoretical User on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:35:11 PM EST

Your Wife Gives Bad Head. -- CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Does 'copy con' count? [n/t] (none / 0) (#48)
by duncan bayne on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:24:55 PM EST

[ Parent ]
echo mytext > mytextfile.txt (none / 0) (#79)
by thenerd on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 01:55:53 PM EST

echo somemoretext >> mytextfile.txt echo startover > mytextfile.txt echo nowsomemore >> mytextfile.txt Aaah takes me back. Good old copy con was a good trick.

[ Parent ]
Not by my definition of an editor. (none / 0) (#92)
by Theoretical User on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:51:30 PM EST

I'd say that the most basic function of an editor is to edit, and copy con doesn't allow that.  Although.... I can't remember if backspaces were recorded in the file, or not.  Actually, if control logic were recorded in the file, then you could actually say it was an editor, maybe.

If I record a backspace, go up a line, left left left, "foo", then that's almost an editor.

I'll have to get back to you on that.

Your Wife Gives Bad Head. -- CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

I wrote my first text editor. (none / 0) (#80)
by HereticMessiah on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:16:33 PM EST

Ego: it's not about depth, but about width!

Disagree with me? Post a reply.
Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
[ Parent ]
Richard Stallman (none / 0) (#81)
by KnightStalker on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:33:33 PM EST

I presume.

[ Parent ]
Nope! (none / 1) (#110)
by HereticMessiah on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 10:41:30 AM EST

I actually wash occasionally.

Disagree with me? Post a reply.
Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
[ Parent ]
Poll write-in. (none / 1) (#31)
by ubernostrum on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:53:56 PM EST

While I wouldn't call it my "favorite" text processor, I find that lately I'm doing a lot of my work in DocBook SGML. There are things about it that I don't like (the unbelievable verbosity at times is annoying), but after years of writing HTML DocBook isn't that difficult to work with.

LyX is quite nice, though... the main thing holding me back is the rather silly reason of there not being a GTK port.

You cooin' with my bird?
GTK Frontend (none / 0) (#45)
by faecal on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:03:17 PM EST

The GTK frontend is partway done. You wants it, you writes it. Write to the developer mailing list to ask for specific task suggestions.

[ Parent ]
There's a problem with that. (none / 0) (#52)
by ubernostrum on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:04:37 PM EST

Namely, that I doubt the GTK frontend is being developed in a language I'm familiar with.

/me does web programming when he does programming at all.

You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Another one (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by John Thompson on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:13:08 PM EST

Lyx is a very useful and versatile program. Another one I'd suggest checking is TeXmacs. They both produce beautiful output, but in my opinion TeXmacs has a better on-screen display.

Write in (1.14 / 7) (#33)
by malglico on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:23:06 PM EST

In my day, we edited text files by hand, WITH MAGNETS!

this isn't slashdot [nt] (2.25 / 4) (#70)
by emmons on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:47:58 AM EST

In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
did I miss something? (none / 1) (#83)
by malglico on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:58:12 PM EST

I didn't mention russians, linux, or beowulf clusters.

[ Parent ]
hmm (none / 1) (#90)
by emmons on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:02:49 PM EST

You look to be relatively new here, so I'll explain: k5ers like comments that are either insightful in some way, provacative or witty. Your comment was fairly off topic and is typical of something that would be posted to a typical slashdot thread by 50 different people. It got hidden because it lowered the signal to noise ratio in the thread.

K5 is great because people actually discuss here. Slashdot was like that 4-5 years ago but has turned into a giant crapflood.. we try to keep k5 from turning into that. Sorry if it seems harsh, but that's how it has to be to (try to) maintain the quality of the site.

In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

1 - Discourage (pure fiction) (2.00 / 3) (#91)
by fhotg on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:44:26 PM EST

stop fucking with the newbies.
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]
LyX is intriguing (3.00 / 4) (#34)
by jd on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:57:21 PM EST

But I found it tedious at times, and it doesn't produce particularly elegent LaTeX files. I'll vote this up, more because people really DO need to know there's life beyond Word, and not because I'm particularly keen on that specific solution.

Windows users who want a GUI-based LaTeX system might find migrating to Scientific Word an easier bite (byte?) than LyX. It's much closer to the design philosophy they are used to, whilst still giving them the power of a typesetting system. It's not free, but then, Windows users seem to like paying for things.

TeX is staggeringly powerful for describing documents. The macro language that sits on it, LaTeX, brings the complexity of the design to managable levels. True, they don't manage bitmaps that well and are more designed to embed Postscript files for graphics, you can still produce a very professional end-product.

Sadly, development of LaTeX 3 is stalled, although there is the occasional bout of work. Unless some truly innovative typesetting experts push the process forwards, LaTeX 3 might yet be beaten by not only Longhorn but by whatever comes after. Now, that is depressingly slow progress.

So, for all LyX fans out there who could offer some help or encouragement, here's your chance to make a piece of history and kick MS Word where it hurts.

pros and cons (none / 0) (#41)
by anmo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:23:51 PM EST

What I find annoying about LyX is that they save documents in their own internal format rather than saving latex files. This breaks portability and makes things confusing. Scientific word on the other hand does save in portable LaTeX, but has a crappy interface, not compatible with all latex packages and flavors.

[ Parent ]
LyX *can* save regular LaTeX files (none / 0) (#55)
by Azmodan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:25:27 PM EST

In fact, I don't know what is the bonus of saving in the internal format but I do it just in case I would lose something.  Anyway you can import / export in LaTeX.

[ Parent ]
Windows users (none / 1) (#77)
by anon 17753 on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 01:12:45 PM EST

It's not free, but then, Windows users seem to like paying for things.

Windows users seem to like to download and run unlicensed copies of expensive commercial software.

[ Parent ]

But... but... (none / 0) (#84)
by jd on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 04:02:05 PM EST

Windows users seem to like to download and run unlicensed copies of expensive commercial software

But... but... if they already have Windows, why would they want to download Windows again? Oh, you mean other commercial software. I thought Microsoft had put all that into the OS.

[ Parent ]

no, that's linux you're thinking of (none / 0) (#100)
by llimllib on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:09:49 PM EST

the OS that comes bundled with all kinds of crap software that you don't want and will never use? Oh yeah, that's Linux unless you want to spend 76 hours setting up your uber-leet system.

I mean, I've done it, the 76 hours thing, but it's not for me anymore.

[ Parent ]

LyX is nifty (none / 1) (#37)
by Gorgonzola on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:22:38 PM EST

After having written two masters' theses using LyX and using it on a regular basis for letters I can only agree with the article's author. And no, neither of the two degrees involved are of a technical nature. And besides, I have gotten compliments about job applications written in LyX for their polished look.
A page a day keeps ignorance of our cultural past away, or you can do your bit for collaborative media even if you haven't anything new or insightful to say.

Behold LyX! (2.50 / 2) (#38)
by enthalpyX on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:24:52 PM EST

And the glory of the XForms library! Bringing 80s style widgets to you TODAY.

Actually, it uses Qt these days (nt) (none / 1) (#44)
by Toojays on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:31:46 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Nifty, I stand corrected (nt) (none / 0) (#47)
by enthalpyX on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:12:26 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Typesetting vs Word Processing (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by rodentboy on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:44:26 PM EST

Have you seen how sophisticated the line breaking algoritm for TeX is? Knuth was almost fanatical about the quality of the output.

I was so used to using TeX for everything that when I was forced to start using Word (network effects) I was really disgusted by the output.

you missed the most important part (none / 0) (#40)
by mikpos on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:19:55 PM EST

Like many, I assumed LyX would be pronounced "lich", where "ch" is pronounced like the Greek letter χ (bonus points to anyone who can write that in IPA). According to a very legitimate post on The Internet, it should actually be pronounced like the German lüks (a French pronunciation is given for political reasons only).

Pedant assole! (1.66 / 6) (#60)
by VoiceOfGod on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 12:54:19 AM EST

You don't even tell people how to pronounce it. You are a pedant  asshole.
cat /dev/america | grep "common sense"
[ Parent ]
Proper pronunciation, jerkwad (none / 1) (#93)
by Theoretical User on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:55:36 PM EST

You pronounce "LyX" as if you're drinking a gallon of Gatorade while being kicked by a line of coked-up Rockettes.

Your Wife Gives Bad Head. -- CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
I'm a fan of LaTeX myself (none / 1) (#42)
by baronben on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:24:07 PM EST

Unless you're doing something incredibly complicated, I've found that using just plain old LaTeX (a set of macros used to construct TeX files, which is a very powerful publishing program) is good enough. While LyX is pretty stable, there is zero chance of TextEdit, or any small text editing program, crashing on me. And, it also keeps with the philosophy of TeX, which is to separate formatting and writing. I write what I need to, and than play with the formatting later. But, LyX is good if you don't want to spend a few hours learning LaTeX
Ben Spigel sic transit gloria
TeX authoring (none / 1) (#43)
by grahamsz on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:27:41 PM EST

I found that Kyle worked very well for creating documents which i could then push into postscript.

It has a very polished kde interface but at some levels it's not much more than a glorified and customized text editor.
Sell your digital photos - I've made enough to buy a taco today

kyle is obsolete (none / 0) (#54)
by Azmodan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:22:22 PM EST

Kyle is a KDEized version of LyX but it is quite old and not useful anymore since LyX is now made directly for Qt.  Install the latest LyX and it will do fine in your KDE desktop.

[ Parent ]
You are confusing Kyle with Kylyx (none / 0) (#63)
by the womble on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 01:17:06 AM EST

I am not sure I have got either name exactly right, there used to be a KDEised version of Lyx called something like Kylyx, there is also a more recent LaTeX editor called Kyle, which is essentailly a text editor heavilly oriented towards LaTeX

[ Parent ]
You're after Kile (none / 0) (#67)
by Coryoth on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:44:05 AM EST

The editor you want it Kile, which I agree is an excellent LaTeX IDE (as opposed to the more WYSIWYG leaning Lyx and Klyx).  For those that want to do serious LaTeX editing, Kile is definitely a fine way to go (the other options being, of course, Emacs and Vim).  for anyone confusing this with Lyx or anything similar, just look at some screenshots


[ Parent ]

You are write (none / 0) (#74)
by Azmodan on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:51:12 AM EST

It is the "y" that confused me :) But indeed, Kile looks really fine. If I bother to learn LaTeX someday, I could use it :)

[ Parent ]
That would explain it (none / 0) (#82)
by grahamsz on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:43:36 PM EST

I did a quick check for it and couldn't find a link. It was the best software i found when i was writing papers at uni a couple of years ago.
Sell your digital photos - I've made enough to buy a taco today
[ Parent ]
You should check it out now then (none / 0) (#89)
by Coryoth on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:46:41 PM EST

It was the best software i found when i was writing papers at uni a couple of years ago.

It has gotten a lot better in the last couple of years with some major enhancements.  Just step through the screenshot sequence to see what I mean.


[ Parent ]

The main problem with Lyx seems to be... (1.50 / 2) (#49)
by fyngyrz on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:44:16 PM EST

...it depends on many other packages, and the installation doesn't appear to take care of figuring all that out, then finding, and installing, what you may lack.

If this is the case, the package is inaccessible to any docs person who isn't a geek, or hasn't a usable geek handy.

I rather support the idea that more folks, who are generally less geeklike, should be dragged to Linux. Installation pitfalls like...

"you must install this, that, the other, and these here depend on those there, but if you're running 1.2 and it is the GNU version then you need this unless you have the full BSD-enhanced CURSES package in which case you need that, also do keep in mind you'll have to recompile your kernal with the real time patch set from geekfingerblisters.com..."

...are what drag them right back to Windows as soon as they try to install it.

Blog, Photos.

I used RPMDrake ... (none / 0) (#50)
by duncan bayne on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:50:44 PM EST

... under Mandrake 9.0 and experienced none of the problems you describe.  I selected the LyX package, and RPMDrake asked if it could install a bunch of dependant packages.  I agreed, it did, and everything worked merrily.

[ Parent ]
Sounds awesome. (none / 0) (#51)
by fyngyrz on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:00:16 PM EST

So, RPMdrake wraps Lyx somehow? You just download, install, and you're done?

Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

yes (none / 0) (#53)
by Azmodan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:20:49 PM EST

Each distribution have it's own tool to install stuff but it all boils to :
  • Write a command
  • Get asked if you want to download and install dependency X and Y that are needed for the package to work
  • Say yes
  • Everything is automatically downloaded / installed for you
Many distribution even have a graphical interface to do that job.  If you use Debian (or a Debian-based distro - Ubuntu being my favorite choice), you get Synaptic which is an awesome tool to autoinstall the stuff you want.

[ Parent ]
That's not exactly what I meant.... (none / 0) (#59)
by fyngyrz on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 12:35:11 AM EST

For instance, if you download firefox, you unpack it, run "firefox-installer", and you're in "the installer" which proceeds to ask you questions like "should I import your bookmarks from mozilla" as opposed to "Compile failed, can't find Qt libraries, Tex not installed, Xforms unavailable, libXpm not located, python version obsolete" and so on. :)

Now, under RH9, which is what I run, I have neither apt nor the tool you mentioned. So where is my "one-step" installation? Not the RPM system, surely - that rarely gets anything right. Have I missed something?

My understanding is that to get Lyx running, I will have to collect many things, compile, install, resolve, repeat, until it works. It might take days. I'd be delighted to be wrong, of course. :)

Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

Mandrake URPMI (none / 0) (#62)
by the womble on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 01:13:09 AM EST

Mandrake has a tool called urpmi which is fairly effective at sorting our dependencies.

If a Mandrake package exists all you do is

1) Download the rpm
2) Open the directory in Konqueror
3) Double click
4) Enter admin password
5) If there are dependencies on packages that are on the installation disks it will ask if it is OK to install
6) It will ask for the appropriate CDs to be isntalled (I.e. please instert installation CD 3).
7) It will install the package and update your menu.

I do not know what will happen if there are depenencies on packages not on the install disks.

In fact firefox is harder to install than a Mandrake package as you have to go into the command line to install it.

As for Lyx it is on the Mndrake install disks so it takes just a few clicks to install it.

[ Parent ]

add medias (none / 0) (#75)
by Azmodan on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:55:00 AM EST

Being a Fedora / Debian (Ubuntu) user, I don't know the urpmi commands very well but I know there is a command to what Mandrake call a media to urpmi. When you try to install something, it will check all medias to find software and dependencies. Check this page to add medias : http://easyurpmi.zarb.org/

[ Parent ]
Gosh. (none / 0) (#64)
by Meshigene Ferd on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:18:18 AM EST

RPM is the assembly language of package management. You want to use a high-level tool such as urpmi. RPM alone is next to useless.
‮‫אַ גויישע קאָפּ!‮

[ Parent ]

I think I'm the only one that *likes* RPM (none / 0) (#99)
by llimllib on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:05:04 PM EST

I straight-up like it. And I've run debian - multiple times - and gentoo and slackware for significant periods of time. I think it's a good balance of central installation information (compare to slackware) versus automagic which often does things I don't want (debian, gentoo to a lesser extent).

[ Parent ]
you can also use (none / 0) (#65)
by nutate on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:36:10 AM EST

apt (might be called apt-rpm) with the fedora legacy project

or yum, also with the fedora legacy project.

They both work well.  I hope to use LyX or OOo for my thesis.  Then we'll see if I still like it.

You can also try Quantian which is a linux (knoppix based) live cd with lyx on it I believe.


[ Parent ]

You can have apt (none / 1) (#66)
by Coryoth on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:39:04 AM EST

Now, under RH9, which is what I run, I have neither apt nor the tool you mentioned. So where is my "one-step" installation? Not the RPM system, surely - that rarely gets anything right. Have I missed something?

Yes, you've unfortunately not been told that you can have apt, and a nice GUI to use it, for Redhat9.  This happens a lot - word doesn't seem to get out.  Head here, grab apt-rpm and Synaptic for Redhat9, follow the instructions to set up your sources, and everything shoudl work fine.


[ Parent ]

Thanks a bunch (none / 0) (#97)
by fyngyrz on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:23:28 PM EST

I now have apt and Lyx. Now that is what I'm talking about. Easy beans!


Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

I don't know about this "Linux" thing... (none / 0) (#58)
by runderwo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:22:15 PM EST

but on my Debian system, installing lyx was one command and a short wait.

[ Parent ]
The same here on FreeBSD [nt] (none / 0) (#95)
by Mujin on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:54:03 PM EST

Oh no, not again.
[ Parent ]
Package managers (none / 0) (#96)
by Rich0 on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:06:31 PM EST

What you need is a package manager.  Any decent linux distro includes one.

I don't want a 500MB lyx download that includes XFree86, glibc, latex, etc.  Oh, better include X.org as well, and the Nvidia, ATI, etc. drivers.  

On gentoo just emerge lyx and everything is taken care of.  Debian works just as well, and even some RPM-based distros can probably handle this reasonably-well.

Applications should only indicate what their dependencies are and be self-contained.  Your distro should handle making sure that all the necessary libraries are installed...

[ Parent ]

I don't know why everyone hates on RPM (none / 0) (#98)
by llimllib on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:01:28 PM EST

apt-get lyx worked on my fedora box.

[ Parent ]
no (none / 0) (#105)
by Secularist on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 01:54:39 PM EST

It didn't.

[ Parent ]
pdf? (2.80 / 5) (#56)
by maw on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:58:04 PM EST

I understand that you have to send a pdf off to your publisher, but what I still can't fathom is why anyone would publish information online using pdf.

pdfs are unpleasant to read, convey no extra useful information, and are large.

Every time I have to look at something in pdf format, I swear profusely at the author, and wonder what he could possibly have been thinking.

Please, do your readers a service, and if you publish your article publically, also make available as html.

(I have a standing offer of $1 USD to the first person who can tell me what I consider to a good reason to publish information in pdf. I expect to never pay it, but I could be wrong. And learning new things is nice.)
I have no idea what you're talking about, but that's ok, since you don't either.

Easy (none / 0) (#57)
by runderwo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:21:30 PM EST

When you print a PDF document, you get exactly what you saw on the screen, same page breaks and everything. Maybe you don't care about this, but it is desirable in many circumstances that I find myself in.

[ Parent ]
Do I earn a dollar? (3.00 / 5) (#61)
by Polverone on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 12:56:23 AM EST

PDF documents created from LaTeX source are smaller than HTML documents created from the same source. The HTML alone is slightly smaller, but every time you have an equation the LaTeX2HTML-produced version will include a bitmap to show it. Good print output will require large bitmaps. Even a few bitmaps tip things in PDF's favor, since it keeps those in compact vector form.

PDF documents easily include vector graphics. You can't do this with a web browser alone. You need to use SVG, Flash, or Java and it certainly won't be as clean.

Recent versions of Acrobat and the official reader support JBIG2 and JPEG2000 as image codecs. These let you store bitonal and large continuous-tone images much more efficiently than you can using browser-supported formats like GIF and JPEG.

PDF includes some security features (printing and text copying can be disabled.) They are very weak, but strong enough to stop the 99% of the world that uses the official Adobe reader. This might not be important for self-publishing but is important to some commercial entities.

Text search works better in PDF. I don't know HTML and browsers well enough to say why, but on pages with moderately complicated layout I can search for a word right in front of my face and Mozilla will tell me it's not found, or won't find it until I click in the right region of whitespace and search again.

HTML was not meant to define presentation of content, though it has been heroically adapted to that task. Sometimes presentation is important, and it's nice to distribute a uniformly attractive document without resorting to 1001 tricks of web wizardry.
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Some good points. (none / 0) (#73)
by warrax on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:31:53 AM EST

Text search works better in PDF.
Huh? This mystifies me, it's always been the other way around for me.
HTML was not meant to define presentation of content[...] Sometimes presentation is important, and it's nice to distribute a uniformly attractive document without resorting to 1001 tricks of web wizardry.
That's why there is such a thing as CSS which enables separation of content and presentation (generally acknowledged to be a Good Thing, especially by those who need to produce multiple layouts), whereas PDF is basically only presentation. Contrary to what you may think CSS is not brain surgery and it is quite possible to make very stylish-looking pages with it.

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]
CSS and nice HTML (none / 0) (#87)
by Polverone on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:08:39 PM EST

Do automated YourDocumentFormat2HTML converters generate beautiful, works-on-all-browsers CSS-ified HTML documents? No, unless they've improved a lot since I last looked. How is MS Word's HTML export doing these days?

People publishing journal articles don't begin by writing HTML documents. Electronic submissions to journals are carefully controlled. The most common formats seem to be MS Word or PDF documents, with various templates or standards to follow. I understand that TeX-stuff is preferred some places (mathematical and some physics journals?) Even for non-electronic submissions, almost nobody's going to use HTML as their working medium.

Almost nobody starts out writing HTML or will bother to hand-convert a complete publication. The limits we face are the limits of automatic format conversion. It's easy to convert almost any printable document to a nice PDF with print-to-PDF tools. It's harder to make nice HTML. If the effort or expense needed is much greater than 0, it won't happen because the lovely and perfectly functional original electronic documents can be served over the Web.
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Fair enough [nt] (none / 0) (#101)
by warrax on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 03:53:01 AM EST

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]
Sure (none / 0) (#103)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 09:06:17 AM EST

Except no two browers render things the same way or even correctly.

Netscape & Microsoft doomed HTML as a text archiving mechanism in 1996. Other alternatives will have to do.

[ Parent ]

Bitmaps (none / 0) (#76)
by wji on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 12:01:46 PM EST

Are you aware of how fiendishly compressed a PNG image of text can be? Say 4 bits per pixel before compression, which will reduce size enormously because 95% of the image is flat black or white.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
PNG (none / 0) (#88)
by Polverone on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:29:06 PM EST

PNG is a nice format. I like to sic pngcrush on images that I'll be putting on the Web. The vectors are still more compact. I checked with a document with considerable math markup (LaTeX original), and the full PDF was only ~30% larger than the HTML alone. Since both documents are just a few dozen kilobytes, I don't think either format really wins the "size wars" for mostly-textual documents. PDF can be bloated and ugly if generated incorrectly from LaTeX (bitmaps instead of correct fonts), while HTML can be bloated and ugly if generated by automatic converters. I'm thinking of MS Word's HTML export here, though maybe it's improved since I last touched it.

One thing that could improve PDF size for mostly-text documents is internal use of gzip or some other general lossless compression scheme for non-image information. I don't understand why that has not been part of PDF. The competing DjVu format offers internal compression of that sort, plus excellent image compressors, but it was held on to too tightly, too long by its parent company and it never became ubiquitous like PDF, even in areas where it had a clear lead on technical merit (like digitized paper document archival).
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

In which case, tex2html is your friend [n/t] (none / 0) (#71)
by duncan bayne on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 04:41:16 AM EST

[ Parent ]
simple (none / 0) (#85)
by coderlemming on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 04:36:24 PM EST

LaTeX is designed to be a typesetting engine.  Its primary purpose is to produce beautiful documents of the same quality you'd see in a book, magazine, or newspaper.  HTML presentation just doesn't work that way... HTML is kind of an "anything-goes" world where any font can be substituted, things don't exactly look as they should, and document style changes depending on such silly things as the size of the user's web browser.

PDF, on the other hand, seems to me to be meant as a screen-viewable document format, so all of the publishing style decisions made in the creation of the document are faithfully reproduced.  When I produce my document as a PDF, what I see is what you see, and that's important for document publishing.  If I wanted a webpage, I'd write a webpage.  The thing is, most of the times I've used LaTeX, the document simply wouldn't have translated well to HTML, and besides, my final destination was paper.  Why should I optimize for the web?

Gimme my dollar.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]

They are consistent (none / 0) (#102)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 09:03:49 AM EST

Old PDFs look & print the same in new versions of Acrobat.

HTML is a whole different ballgame. New browers introduce new layout quirks and inconsistency.

[ Parent ]

A single file (none / 0) (#104)
by Eccles on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 04:17:42 PM EST

PDFs also have the advantage of being self-contained, which is not only more convenient, but guarantees all the info is there. If you send HTML, it's perfectly possible to miss sending an image from the file.

[ Parent ]
they print nicely (none / 0) (#106)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 12:13:56 PM EST

.pdfs may be a pain in the ass to create - I wouldn't know - and I don't care for looking at them in a web browser any more than you do. But from an end-user's point-of-view, if you have a sixty-page illustrated motherboard manual or a software manual with numbered pages and an index or something like that, which you would like to print out legibly on paper, it's nice to be able to download it in .pdf format.

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

The beauty of LaTeX (2.66 / 3) (#69)
by Coryoth on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:06:49 AM EST

I never quite moved on from just using straight LaTeX, which works incredibly well presuming you've managed to get over the initial learning curve.  You really can do pretty much whatever you want with it.  For example, given my current situation where I often have to write documents that I will also have to give a presentation on, I invested a little time making that easier.

Now, I just go through and write the document in LaTeX pretty much as I normally would.  The only difference is, at the head of significant paragraphs I drop in a quick

\summary{ [bullet point summary of paragraph goes here] }

and continue with my document.  This, of course, helps crystalise your thoughts for the paragraph, but has an added side benefit:  I've written two document classes, one produces a document, the other produces a PDF presentation (akin to what you'd get from powerpoint) based on the bullet point summaries.  A simple switch of the documentclass declaration and I can generate either.  This lets me get on with writing the document, yet I'm effectively writing the presentation without thinking about it.  Furthermore, it's easy to share figures, equations, text, or pretty much anything I want between both the document and the presentation.  That means I can have everything in one document, and have any edits or changes automatically propagate through.  No cutting and pasting, no worries about the presentation falling out of sync with the document.  Everything is in one place, and easy to maintain.

This is, of course, similar to what Duncan is discussing in the way of different style sheets, only more powerful, as the results of the different document classes are wildly different (in content as well as style).

If there are other people interested in such things I might try posting my documentclasses somewhere - they are rather tailored to my taste in style, but should be easy enough to modify to suit other needs.

I suspect a determined individual could arrange for something similar in Lyx - it is mostly a frontend to LaTeX anyway.


Lyx on OS X (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by anon 17753 on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 01:24:47 PM EST

Lyx is also available for OS X. There is a wiki at http://wiki.lyx.org/pmwiki.php/LyX/Mac.

come on... (none / 0) (#86)
by coderlemming on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 04:43:14 PM EST

Having just spent 2 hours trying to get a table formatted right in straight LaTeX, making weird little changes so that the parser doesn't puke, I really have to wonder how the hell an application can write the LaTeX code to do what I want.  I'm not even trying to do anything paticularly fancy, either, but every time I use LaTeX I have to look up code snippets in obscure forums and mailing lists online, if it is indeed even possible to do what I want.  How can an application possibly get everything right?

Then again, despite all of my pain, I stick with LaTeX because its output is so beautiful :P

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)

maybe you need to drop down to Tex (none / 0) (#116)
by modmans2ndcoming on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 02:51:25 AM EST

because LaTex is just a Macro language of Tex so the EXACT way you want something might not be possible in LaTex.

[ Parent ]
Great Article (none / 1) (#94)
by strlen on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:28:46 PM EST

Too bad it's somewhat trapped in the section ghetto. One addition I'd like to make, however, is to mention the lout document processing language. I've found it to be better suited for non-scientific (or more specifically non heavymathematical) papers, and it would be great to see something more than an emacs editing mode available for it.

Link: http://lout.sourceforge.net/

There's also another great LaTeX editor front end, though in a very different style from Texmacs and LyX: and that is winedt (google it yourself).

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

Lyx - WYSIWYM Document Processing (none / 0) (#107)
by lbianchi on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 03:29:47 PM EST

The link you give to the win32 port of Lyx is quite old. A fresher one is Ruurd Reitsma's port at
<http://www.home.zonnet.nl/rareitsma/lyx>, This version does not require Cygwin nor an X-server, and is based on a much more recent version of the source.

WYSINWYW (none / 0) (#108)
by infraoctarine on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 05:44:08 PM EST

anyone who's worked with a WYSIWYG word processor like Word
I thought it was established by now that Word is indeed not a WYSIWYG word processor, but rather WYSINWYW, or "What You See Is Not What You Want". (Actually, I didn't make it up. It's from: Neville H., ``Crouching Error, Hidden Markup,'' Computer, September, 2001.)

So, Lyx gurus. (none / 0) (#109)
by i on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 06:40:33 PM EST

How can I use several diferent languages in Lyx? Say, English, Hebrew, Russian, and Japanese?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

yay for LyX (none / 1) (#111)
by polyglot on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 07:28:21 PM EST

As someone who is currently writing a PhD thesis in it, I can recommend it.

The point to keep in mind is that, being a LaTeX editor, everything (well, nearly) is a logical style, not physical style. Moving from Word to a professional document-construction tool like this is (to make a webby analogy) like moving from font tags in HTML to XHTML/CSS.

Physical appearance should be separated from the structure of the document, a paradigm very poorly supported by Word, though mainly because no one seems to understand or use Styles.

"There is no God and Dirac is his prophet"
     -- Wolfgang Pauli
Where is the advantage? (none / 0) (#112)
by bored on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 11:52:13 AM EST

Nearly all the commercial WYSIWYG word processors/publishing utilities (M$ Word included) have the ability to write documents, where you mark sections of your document with things like new section, indexed word, etc.. and they will automatically compute tables of contents, indexes, consistant section layouts, etc. Its usually just a matter of spending a hour or two reading a book or the online help to figure out how to do this, rather than manually formatting everything. BTW: My personal favorite word processor is IBM's Word Pro although I have an old copy and they don't seem to be updating it much anymore.

Ami Pro-> Word Pro (none / 0) (#113)
by bored on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 02:58:57 PM EST

I think Ami Pro became Word Pro when lotus bought it.

How is this different... (none / 0) (#114)
by bugmaster on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 10:17:20 PM EST

...from using Emacs (vi, textpad, whatever) to write HTML with CSS ? Just wondering.
Better for printed documents (none / 1) (#115)
by Toojays on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 05:47:08 AM EST

It's conceptually similar, except LyX puts a pretty interface on it, and it's more optimised for the printed page, or publishing to PDF files.

[ Parent ]
Lyx - WYSIWYM Document Processing | 117 comments (95 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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