Build Remote Compiling Server

Don't want to install 2GB LaTeX compiler, so I used shell, ssh, scp to make a remote compiling server

Posted by MewX on Apr 06, 2017

I have a LaTeX assignment, but I don’t want to install tex live on my own laptop because it contains thousands of small files. Maybe it can slightly protect my hard driver. Then I have to find a way to compile the LaTeX files.

Firstly, I choose to use Overleaf - an online LaTeX tool set. It works quite good at uni, but when I get home it generally overrides my texts with an old version because of my slow network speed. That means it’s unstable in poor network environment.

So, I began to think about directly using my uni’s shared server which is installed with tex live in the last year.

No-password access

Using ssh or scp requires password every time, that makes one-click solution not work. So, the first step is to remove the password verification. So, the method is like git push key.

cd ~/.ssh

Note, if you don’t have this file or folder, please check this post.

After this, I can see the public key. Then, copy/append them into uni’s shared server, in this file: ~/.ssh/authorized_keys. (Note: the key only has one line)

Now, I can access that server without entering password any more.

Automatic process

The next thing is to make everything work automatically.


The process is like this:

Me: push to GitHub
Uni: pull from GitHub
Uni: compile
Me: Pull from uni

Access to private git repo

The idea is, GitHub provides each project a deploy key settings, which allow user to set ssh keys with pull permission only. Uni’s shared server is not trusted, so I don’t want to give all my account’s access to that server.

Execute scripts in my PC

I want to pass command into ssh command directly. So I searched for that,

ssh [email protected] 'bash -s' <

With this command, I can run local commands on remote server directly.


Here are the file contents.

cd ~/Codes/ec-groupwork/reports/report1
git pull
pdflatex main.tex

ssh [email protected] 'sh -s' <
scp [email protected]:~/Codes/ec-groupwork/reports/report1/main.pdf main.pdf

A newer version just skip the GitHub server.

cd ~/Codes/ec-groupwork/reports/report1
pdflatex main.tex

scp main.tex [email protected]:~/Codes/ec-groupwork/reports/report1/
ssh [email protected] 'sh -s' <
scp [email protected]:~/Codes/ec-groupwork/reports/report1/main.pdf main.pdf

Note: I didn’t use bash because uni’s server is running CShell.

So far, I can run ./ to compile & pull back the .pdf file easily~~~ Rejoice for saving my hard driver ;) !

MewX comments powered by Disqus