Biber 1.8 has mysteriously stopped working for me:

% biber --trace mytest || echo "Failed with code $?" 
INFO - This is Biber 1.8
INFO - Logfile is 'mytest.blg'
INFO - Reading 'mytest.bcf'
INFO - Using all citekeys in bib section 0
INFO - Processing section 0
INFO - Looking for bibtex format file 'mytest.bib' for section 0
INFO - Decoding LaTeX character macros into UTF-8
INFO - Found BibTeX data source 'mytest.bib'
Failed with code 25

As you can see, there is no error message.

I keep my document in a git repository, and so I was able to test it with some older versions, which fail in the same way, although they used to work (with the same version of Biber). I'm using TeXLive 2014, installed with MacPorts, which reports the version as "1.8_0+perl5_16".

I managed to narrow down the .bib file to a single line that causes the problem, and include these files below. By inserting print statements into the .pm files, I discovered that the failure happens while mappings are being applied to the data read from the .bib file. Specifically, it happens when biber_decode_utf8 in Biber/Utils.pm calls decode_utf8 with a 6 element string consisting of the letters "Citta" followed by the grave accent combining mark (U+0300).

Another question on Biber problems suggests deleting the cache, but biber --cache tells me that I'm not using the binary version of Biber, so there's no cache. This question about a SIGSEGV on Linux suggests rebuilding the dependencies of the package. I did sudo port build depof:biblatex-biber, which had no effect. I've also rebooted, and uninstalled and reinstalled biblatex-biber twice (with MacPorts). Any suggestions?

Here follow the files with which I can reproduce the problem:


%% This BibTeX bibliography file was created using BibDesk.
%% Saved with string encoding Unicode (UTF-8) 

    Address = {Citt{\`a}}}

mytest.bcf is too big to include here. I've posted it as a Gist.

closed as off-topic by moewe, egreg, Andrew Swann, Torbjørn T., Svend Tveskæg Mar 5 '15 at 10:16

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  • 1
    Is there a reason, why you are using a) biber 1.8 instead of the most recent version (1.9) and b) TeX Live 2014 via MacPorts instead of plain MacTeX? Because I cannot reproduce your error with biber 1.9 on a recent TeX Live 2014 installation. – DG' Aug 23 '14 at 20:13
  • I'm using MacPorts because it's a smaller install. MacPorts currently provides Biber 1.8. I would consider switching to MacTeX if I can't find another way to solve my problem, but it looks like it would cost me a GB or more of disk space. – jcr Aug 23 '14 at 20:48
  • If 1 G is really an issue, you are probably better off going with the basic version of MacTeX rather than MacPorts. This will be smaller and you'll need to install more stuff using tlmgr or the GUI wrapper but that is likely to be less problematic than the MacPorts distribution in the long run. – cfr Aug 23 '14 at 21:37
  • I installed MacTeX and removed the MacPorts version of TeXLive 2014. Biber (1.8) then functioned properly on the test files. After I upgraded to Biber 1.9, it still worked with the test files, but produced dozens of warnings about uninitialized variables. However, on my full .bib and .tex files, Biber functions properly and produces no warnings, so I won't worry about the warnings produced with the test file. The difference in Biber 1.8 between MacPorts and MacTeX is that it is a Perl script in the former, and a 15MB binary in the latter. Takeaway: use MacTex instead of MacPorts. – jcr Aug 25 '14 at 9:27
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the problem seems to be resolved (see comment above) and the question does not allow for a more serious investigation. – moewe Mar 5 '15 at 9:19

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