Comprehensive TeX Archive Network

What is CTAN?

The Com­pre­hen­sive Archive Net­work is a set of In­ter­net sites around the world that of­fer -re­lated ma­te­rial for down­load.


CTAN is not a sin­gle site, but in­stead is a set of sites.

One of the sites is the core. This site ac­tively man­ages the ma­te­rial, for in­stance, by ac­cept­ing up­loads of new or up­dated pack­ages.

In ad­di­tion, other sites around the world help out by mir­ror­ing. Th­ese sites au­to­mat­i­cally sync their col­lec­tions with a core site, and then in turn make their copies pub­licly avail­able. This gives users close to their lo­ca­tion bet­ter ac­cess, and re­lieves the core sites of net­work load. We main­tain a list of of­fi­cial mir­rors; please use one if you can.

Be­ing a Mir­ror

If you are in­ter­ested in be­ing an of­fi­cial mir­ror, that'd be great. (Mir­ror traf­fic is light, per­haps one vis­i­tor is logged in at any time.) You will need about 50 Gb of hard disk space and an al­ways-on In­ter­net con­nec­tion. For the setup de­tails, see our mir­ror­ing page. Once you are ready, use the signup form on this page.

Thank you!


Be­fore CTAN there were a num­ber of peo­ple who made some ma­te­ri­als avail­able for pub­lic down­load, but there was no sys­tem­atic col­lec­tion. At a podium dis­cus­sion that Joachim Schrod or­ga­nized at the 1991 Euro con­fer­ence, the idea arose to bring to­gether the sep­a­rate col­lec­tions. (Joachim was in­volved be­cause he ran one of the largest ftp servers in Ger­many at this time and had heav­ily mod­i­fied the ba­sic tool mirror.pl for this pur­pose.)

CTAN was built in 1992, by Rainer Schoepf and Joachim Schrod in Ger­many, Se­bas­tian Rahtz in the UK, and Ge­orge Green­wade in the US (Ge­orge came up with the name). The site struc­ture was put to­gether at the start of 1992 – Se­bas­tian did the main work – and syn­chro­nized at the start of 1993. The Users Group pro­vided a frame­work, a Tech­ni­cal Work­ing Group, for this task's or­ga­ni­za­tion. CTAN was of­fi­cially an­nounced at the Euro con­fer­ence in As­ton, 1993.

(Note: the fa­mil­iar Perl archive, CPAN, is based on the CTAN model.)

The US site has moved twice. First, af­ter be­ing at Sam Hus­ton State Univer­sity un­der Ge­orge Green­wade, in 1995 it went to UMass Bos­ton where it was run by Karl Berry. Then, in 1999 it moved to Saint Michael's Col­lege in Colch­ester, Ver­mont, where it was main­tained by Jim Hef­feron. In 2011 it left the core CTAN sites.

The UK site at Cam­bridge has been spon­sored by the UK TUG, and was man­aged by Robin Fair­bairns. It left the core CTAN sites in 2015.

The CTAN Team
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