From: Martin Vermeer
What is Lyx
LyX is an advanced open source document processor running on many
Unix platforms. It is called a “document processor”, because unlike
standard word processors, LyX encourages an approach to writing
based on the structure of your documents, not their appearance. LyX
lets you concentrate on writing, leaving details of visual layout
to the software. LyX automates formatting according to predefined
rule sets, yielding consistency throughout even the most complex
documents. LyX produces high quality, professional output — using
LaTeX, an open source, industrial strength typesetting engine, in
With LyX, short notes or letters are a snap. LyX really shines,
though, when composing complex documents like technical
documentation, doctoral theses and conference proceedings.
LyX has undergone a quantum leap in functionality over the past
18 months. This release offers extensive control over fonts,
margins, headers/footers, spacing/indents, justification, bullet
types in multilevel lists, a sophisticated table editor, a version
control interface for collaborative projects — the list goes on
and on. LyX 1.0 includes many standard formats and templates such
as for letters, articles, books, overheads, even Hollywood scripts.
Work continues on a growing library of “plug-in” formats and
templates, in the best open-source tradition.
LyX presents the user with the familiar face of a WYSIWYG word
processor. However, users familiar with Microsoft Word or
WordPerfect may be perplexed by certain basic LyX behavior. For
example, repeatedly hitting the space bar has no effect! This is by
design: LyX puts in the proper spacing for you, intelligently.
Welcome to the LyX paradigm!
You set the “ground rules” and place the elements of your
document into proper categories. Let’s say, you tell LyX that a
certain line is a Section title. LaTeX adds the Section to your
table of contents, places the Section name into your page header,
gives it a special “bold” appearance on the page, assigns it a
number or label, and tells other parts of your document what page
it’s on, for references and citations. Many of the headaches of
traditional word processing just vanish.
LaTeX easily processes hundreds of chapter and section labels,
thousands of footnotes and inserted graphics, intricate
cross-references, complex multi-level outlines, formatted tables of
contents and lists of illustrations, and exhaustive indices or
bibliographies, and is rightly famous for the superb quality of its
output. Users already acquainted with “raw” LaTeX will find that
LyX offers full LaTeX transparency and import/export of LaTeX
LyX contains a fully integrated formula editor which is easily
best-of-breed, adding WYSIWYG point-and-click convenience to
LaTeX’s legendary math typesetting capabilities. If you’re into
scientific authoring, this is the jewel in the crown. TRY IT!
Think of LyX as the first WYSIWYM word processor: What You See
Is What You MEAN. All the common formatting intelligence of LaTeX
is presented to the user through visual controls, like a
table-of-contents window acting as an outline browser, “live”
reference links (to figure and table captions, sections, pages and
literature citations), automatic multilevel section and list
numbering, and more. You tell LyX how to treat particular words and
lines in your document: e.g., this is standard text, this is a
Section title, this is a footnote, this is a caption beneath an
inserted graphic. As you click your selections, the WYSIWYM
interface gives you clean, straightforward “visual cues” (actually,
The approach has ergonomic advantages. You can enlarge the
screen fonts to suit your tastes but still have all the text on the
screen — without affecting the margins and other formatting of
your final output. Thus, you can work comfortably on small displays
(or if your eyes are tired or your eyesight is not so good) and get
the final output right with just a couple of page previews using
xdvi or ghostview.
LyX includes excellent and copious on-line help: a beginner’s
tutorial, user’s guide, and additional manuals describing advanced
features. LyX’s menu system exists in a dozen different (Latin
character set) languages, selectable at run time.
LyX conspicuously lacks a filter for importing MS Word
documents. The LyX Team considers this not worth the effort, as
word processors in general are moving away from proprietary formats
to the open XML standard. So, as long as you need continued access
to legacy documents, you should retain a traditional word
processor, e.g., Corel’s WordPerfect for Linux.
LyX runs on standard Unix platforms, including Linux, FreeBSD,
NetBSD, Solaris, IRIX, HP-UX, AIX, … even OS/2 and Cygnus/Win32
(somewhat experimentally), and provides native support for
PostScript(tm) fonts and figures.
More about LyX, including screen shots and the LyX Graphic Tour,
What’s new compared to LyX version 0.12.0?
Most importantly, import of existing LaTeX documents using the
new reLyX perl script. Better support for SGML/LinuxDoc, tables,
and indexing/bibliographies, etc. Summing up, it’s better looking,
better working, better documented, and lots of bugs have been
How stable is LyX?
This release is considered stable, but as with any software, you
should take appropriate back-up steps in a production
What about KLyX?
KLyX is a port of LyX version 0.12.0 to KDE, done primarily by
Matthias Ettrich and Kalle Dalheimer. It was made as a
proof-of-principle, to demo how good looking LyX could be made on
this desktop environment, and implement some advanced features
which KDE, and its Qt toolkit, facilitate. There is an intention to
re-integrate KLyX into the LyX code base; by version 1.2, LyX
should be GUI toolkit/desktop agnostic.
LyX is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL),
which means specifically that you can use it for free. See http://www.gnu.org.
The main LyX site is
with mirrors at
The source code package is available at:
and at the mirrors listed above.
You need XForms version 0.81, 0.86 or 0.88 to compile your own
version. Version 0.88 is highly recommended. Of course you also
need LaTeX; the teTeX distribution is recommended.
Precompiled binaries for various platforms are available at:
Binaries for i386-Linux are also available at your local metalab
(previously known as sunsite) mirror:
Undoubtedly binaries packaged for various distributions (rpm,
deb) will appear soon on metalab.
Information and binaries for Cygnus/WinNT can be found at:
The LyX Graphic Tour can be found at:
It is possible to run LyX in a temporary directory before you
About the LyX Team
The LyX Team is a world wide consortium of volunteer
contributors. Many, many people have helped make the 1.0 release
Lars Gullik Bjoennes, Alejandro Aguilar Sierra, Asger Alstrup,
Jean-Marc Lasgouttes, Juergen Vigna, John P. Weiss, Bernhard
Iselborn, Andre Spiegel, Allan Rae, Henner Zeller, Robert van der
Kamp, David L. Johnson, Amir Karger, Joacim Persson, Peter
Suetterlin, SMiyata, Alkis Polyzotis, …
Special thanks should go to Matthias Ettrich who started it
Please direct any comments or questions to the appropriate
mailing list as described on the LyX homepage (http://www.lyx.org).
The LyX Team