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General information about the LyX application

§1.  What is LyX?

LyX is a program that provides a more modern approach to writing documents with a computer, an approach that breaks with the obsolete tradition of the "typewriter concept." It is designed for authors who want professional output quickly with a minimum of effort without becoming specialists in typesetting. The job of typesetting is done mostly by the computer, not the author; with LyX, the author can concentrate on the contents of her writing.

LyX provides an "almost-WYSIWYG" view of the document. "Almost" means that the line and page breaks are not displayed exactly as they will appear in the printed document. However, that's not really necessary, since LyX uses a separate typesetter program (called LaTeX) to perform the final formatting of your text (alternatively, but less well integrated, LyX can also use DocBook instead of LaTeX). While LyX contains everything it needs to be a comfortable user interface, the typesetting program contains everything necessary to format text, and do so very, very well.

So, line and page breaks aren't your problem anymore. Remembering which number to use for the next subsection isn't your problem anymore. Recalling what font you used for all of your section headings isn't your problem anymore. You tell LyX (and LaTeX) what kind of document you're editing and what type of paragraph this-or-that text is, the computer can typeset it accordingly. Of course you can also still do some low-level formatting for fine-tuning. However, the proper way with LyX is to tell the computer what the text is, not what it should look like. So, we like to say that LyX gives you WYSIWYM editing (What You See Is What You Mean).

§2.  That's fine, but is it useful?

Absolutely. The following type of documents have been produced with LyX (see also this page):

  • Memos
  • Letters
  • Dissertations (260 pages in a single document, longer using include files)
    • for example, [1]
  • Presentation slides
  • Lecture notes (133 pages, 27 figures on a 33 MHz 486 machine!)
  • Seminar notebooks (500+ pages)
  • Conference proceedings (e.g., Proceedings of the Second Continental Workshop on the Geoid in Europe, (Finnish Geodetic Institute Report 98:4), 292 pages)
  • Software Documentation (the LyX User Guide is about 150 pages)
  • Books
    • see [2] for an example on PostgreSQL
    • Donnay, J-P., Barnsley, M.J., and Longley, P.A., eds., 2001, Remote Sensing and Urban Analysis (Taylor and Francis: London).
    • Herbert Voss: Praktische Kryptologie mit Java 286 pages, lots of equations, tables, figures. ISBN 3-8311-1458-7
    • Yann Collette and Patrick Siarry, Optimisation multiobjectifs, 2002, Eyrolles
    • Johann Dréo and Alain Pétrowsky and Eric Taillard and Patrick Siarry, Métaheuristiques pour l'optimisation difficile, 2003, Eyrolles
  • Papers published in the following refereed journals:
    • Astronomy & Astrophysics (Suetterlin, P. 1998, A&A, 333, 305; Suetterlin, P. & Wiehr, E. 1998, A&A, 336, 367)
    • Astronomical Journal (Ressler, M. E. & Barsony, M. 2001, AJ, 121, 1098)
  • Novels (400+ page novel due out in September 2000; an 836 page novel is currently with an agent)
  • Scripts for plays and movies
  • Business proposals for > $1 M (US)

§3.  Where do I start?

The project's website ( is the first place to go for anything related to LyX. News, examples, downloads, and lots of other stuff is available there. After you have installed LyX and started it the first time, read the Tutorial (Help->Tutorial). Yes, I really mean that.

Other basic introductory guides may be found at the Tutorials site on this wiki.

§4.  Does LyX run on my computer?

LyX is known to run on the following platforms:

  • Linux
  • Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7; there's also a CygWin version available)
  • Mac OS X
  • SparcLinux
  • Sun Solaris
  • Tru64 Unix
  • HP-UX
  • OSF1 flore V4.0 1091 alpha
  • OS/2

§5.  How much hard disk space does LyX need?

(Information outdated!)

The LyX binary consumes about 2.0 MB of disk space, while the supporting files occupy another 12.6 MB (9.1 MB of which is consumed by the docs! You can delete the languages you don't care about to save some space). Of course, you do need to have a LaTeX-compiler, e.g. TeXLive or MikTeX, installed. This consumes about 115 MB, as well as ghostscript, which is another 10 MB!

§6.  Is LyX Open Source?

Yes. LyX is distributed under the GNU GPL.


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Page last modified on 2010-08-07 07:45 UTC