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I use TeXLive 2012 under Ubuntu 12.10. I would like to upgrade biblatex to the latest version (2.3). I tried the following:

  1. download and unpack .tar.gz from
  2. put content in local TeX tree /usr/local/texlive/texmf-local:
    • put ./tex/latex/biblatex in /usr/local/texlive/texmf-local/tex/latex
    • put ./bibtex in /usr/local/texlive/texmf-local (replace the existing "bibtex" there)
  3. mktexlsr (i.e., texhash)

When compiling documents, I suddenly obtain:

/usr/local/texlive/2012/../texmf-local/tex/latex/biblatex/biblatex.sty:87: Miss
ing number, treated as zero.
<to be read again> 


I checked back with the README and I have all other required (and strongly recommended packages). How is upgrading of biblatex done properly?

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i'm using ubuntu 12.04 (our linux manager prefers lts...), and i have a biblatex bundle available to add on to the system’s tex live. does 12.10 not have that? – wasteofspace Nov 28 '12 at 11:33
I also had biblatex installed, but I want to upgrade (partly due to the answer here…) – Marius Hofert Nov 28 '12 at 11:38
@MariusHofert Follow the readme instructions. Files at github are under development and require a build script to install. 2.3 is available from CTAN. A development version of 2.4 can be downloaded from SF. – Audrey Nov 28 '12 at 14:18
Thanks a lot, Audrey, the SF version worked fine! – Marius Hofert Nov 28 '12 at 14:40

2 Answers 2

This is just a modification of NVaughan's answer;

sudo apt-get install texlive-full
sudo apt-get remove biber
sudo apt-get remove biblatex
mkdir tempbiber
mkdir tempbiblatex
tar -zxvf biber-linux_x86_64.tar.gz -C tempbiber/
tar -zxvf biblatex-2.8a.tds.tgz -C tempbiblatex/
sudo rsync -azvv tempbiber/ /usr/bin/
#sudo rsync -azvv tempbiblatex/ /usr/share/texlive/texmf-dist/
sudo rsync -azvv tempbiblatex/ /usr/local/share/texmf/

To compile a document using biber;

pdflatex texDocumentName
biber texDocumentName
pdflatex texDocumentName
share|improve this answer
Hi richardbrucebaxter: I saw your edit on . Actually, IMHO, that question has been closed correctly: it is always recommended to have the latest versions of the packages. Developers put lot of effort in this work and lot of solutions proposed here need latest package version. With respect to Ubuntu systems, it is well known that texlive from .deb repositories is not up to date. For that reason, the best remedy is to follow How to install “vanilla” TeXLive on Debian or Ubuntu?. It really solves problems! – Claudio Fiandrino Mar 26 '14 at 6:54
I did notice the vanilla installation suggestion - it seems overly complicated when the only problem is the biblatex/biber package in this case. – richardbrucebaxter Apr 4 '14 at 5:45
Not at all: with vanilla TeXLive you have the "complete" and up to date distribution. Moreover, you also get the manager app to trigger manual updates. Otherwise you have to download and do manual installation every time an update is released. Not mention the dependencies: try to install a recent package that makes use of LaTeX3 when you don't have the related packages updated. You might spend one day to install by hand. These are real problems: my office mate was reclutant to install vanilla texlive. A couple of weeks ago he had a serious problem and decided to install it: everything solved. – Claudio Fiandrino Apr 4 '14 at 5:59
Thanks for the suggestion Claudio, and for helping to maintain the product. – richardbrucebaxter May 12 '14 at 5:35
Downvoted, because the author makes the terrible suggestion to manually copy fieles to /usr/share, which is really bad practice. This should not be done under any circumstances, as this might mess up your systems' package management. The correct place to make new files available systemwide is /usr/local/share, or, in this case, wherever $TEXMFLOCAL points (that should be /usr/local/share/texmf). – mSSM Aug 1 '14 at 16:05
  1. From SourceForge download biber v.1.4 (
  2. From SourceForge download biblatex v.2.4. (
  3. Create two temp dirs: mkdir tempbb && mkdir tempbl
  4. Uncompress biber-linux_x86_32.tar.gz to the temp directory: tar -zxvf biber-linux_x86_32.tar.gz -C tempbb/
  5. Uncompress biblatex-2.4.tds.tgz to the temp directory: tar -zxvf biblatex-2.4.tds.tgz -C tempbl/
  6. Move the contents of the files in the tempbl temp directory to /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/ thus: sudo rsync -azvv tempbl/ /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/
  7. Move the biber bin from your temp directory to /usr/local/texlive/2012/texmf-dist/ thus: sudo rsync -azvv tempbl/ /usr/local/texlive/2012/bin/i386-linux/
  8. Run mktexlsr
  9. Test that everything is working fine.
share|improve this answer
For what it's worth, my install paths were: /usr/local/bin/ for biber and /usr/share/texmf/ for biblatex. Otherwise worked nicely, thanks NVaughan. – Christoph B. Feb 18 '13 at 15:49

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