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AUCTex in WSL cannot find TeX Live in Win

From: petepetite75
Subject: AUCTex in WSL cannot find TeX Live in Win
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2022 15:36:46 +0200

I have posted the persistant problem three weeks ago already to, but nobody seems to know the answer. 
I suspect the solution may be pretty straightforward, but I'm just a emacs+ auctex beginner, so please bear with me if this appears banal.
For convenience, here again what I have tried so far.
Thank you and best regards @all.
AUCTex in WSL cannot find TeX Live in Win

When trying to compile/ pdf-preview a tex-file, minibuffer spits out:

ERROR: AUCTeX cannot find a working TeX distribution. 
Make sure you have one and that TeX binaries are in PATH environment variable


  1. AUCTex (up-to-date version from ELPA) via:

Win 10 --> wsl (1) --> Debian 11 (+ VcXsrv for GUI) --> Emacs (from the official 'bullseye'-repository)

  1. c:/texlive/2022/bin/win32/ (full install)

Paths for TeX Live and Ghostscript in the Windows environment-variables are correctly set: working fine in Emacs under Win 10 and also Cygwin.

Is there anything else I would have to do for AUCTex to find TeX Live under Windows?

By all means I would like to avoid a second 7GB-install of TeX Live in WSL.


When in the WSL Linux-console I type: pdflatex.exe, it says: "This is pdfTeX, Version 3.141592653-2.6-1.40.24 (TeX Live 2022) (preloaded format=pdflatex) restricted \write18 enabled."

It can therefore be safely assumed that WSL1 does read the path correctly? Why then can not Emacs-AucteX find it. May "restricted" have anything to do with it? Or that it says "pdfTeX", instead of pdfLateX? After another several days of digging in the dark, I am on the brink of giving up.

Update 2:

  1. I created a helloworld.tex-file in wsl-emacs: no compiling, just saved it to the default folder.
  2. I quit wsl-emacs and in wsl-debian console typed: pdflatex.exe helloworld.tex
  3. This actually created the according helloworld.pdf.

So the wsl/ windows-texlive connection is definitely alive and working.

Therefore I'm still wondering: Why is this not possible in wsl-emacs, why can auctex not find texlive?

Another observation, if relevant: If 1) in wsl-emacs I create the helloworld.tex and not just save it, but also, unsuccesfully, try to compile ('latex' or 'pdflatex') it 2) exit emacs and in wsl-debian console type pdflatex.exe helloworld.tex 3) it now denies permission:

c:/texlive/2022/texmf-dist/tex/latex/l3backend/l3backend-pdftex.def)pdflatex.exe: helloworld.aux: Permission denied

Update 3:

After a good sleep, the probable solution to the problem seems, to me at least, so obvious that I'm surprised am the first to come up with it... ;)

When I tell auctex in wsl-emacs to compile/ 'pdflatex' helloworld.tex, it by default tries to do this within wsl. So it is bound to complain, as there is no TexLive in wsl.

The right and as we've seen above working command to compile/ 'pdflatex' the file in TexLive Windows is pdflatex.exe.

So it seems all I would have to do is tell auctex to execute pdflatex.exe, instead of just pdflatex.

Does this make any sense? If so: now how/ where in auctex can I change the default command accordingly?


Update 4: Still no success.

Nobody knows? In the auctex-command settings I've tried by changing command 'pdflatex' to 'pdflatex.exe', but auctex still can not find TexLive.

Maybe I have to give and/ or mount the full Windows TexLive somehow, somewhere?




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