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I'm starting pdflatex from a shell-script invoked as cgi-bin application on Ubuntu (running under default www-data user) and from time to time I have the following kind of error preventing compiling:

kpathsea: Running mktextfm larm0700
mktextfm: mktexdir ./.texmf-var/fonts/tfm/lh/lh-t2a failed.
kpathsea: Appending font creation commands to missfont.log.

./thebook.tex:330: Font T2A/cmr/m/n/7=larm0700 at 7.0pt not loadable: Metric (T
FM) file not found.
<to be read again> 
                   relax 
l.330 10 м/с\textsuperscript{2}

./thebook.tex:330:  ==> Fatal error occurred, no output PDF file produced!
Transcript written on thebook.log.

Inspection shows that an empty directory .texmf-var/fonts/tfm/lh/lh-t2a created in a working dir (in contrast with mktexdir message).

Running the same script with sudo -u www-data fixes the problem temporary: fonts are generated and then this particular document can be compiled from the cgi-bin script. But it does not provide stable result: as new fonts are needed, cgi-bin script stops working again.

The similar problems are discussed also here, here, here, here, here (in Russian), here and maybe somewhere else, but no clear solutions provided.

1

The problem was solved by adding

export HOME='/var/www'

to the shell-script just before the pdflatex command.

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