texlive 2016 was installed locally in /usr/local/texlive/2016/ on a gentoo Linux system by the install-tl -gui installer.

An update with tlmgr returns:

/usr/local/texlive/2016/bin/x86_64-linux# ./tlmgr update --all

Transcript written on xelatex.log.
fmtutil [INFO]: /var/lib/texmf/web2c/xetex/xelatex.fmt installed.
fmtutil [WARNING]: inifile csplain.ini for pdfcsplain/xetex not found.
fmtutil [INFO]: Disabled formats: 6
fmtutil [INFO]: Successfully rebuilt formats: 3
fmtutil [INFO]: Not selected formats: 40
fmtutil [INFO]: Failed to build: 1 (xetex/pdfcsplain)
fmtutil [INFO]: Total formats: 50
fmtutil [INFO]: exiting with status 1

I wonder that texlive installs files outside /usr/local. /var/lib/texmf/web2c/xetex/xelatex.fmt is usually entrusted to the package manager of the operating system. I fear this could raise conflicts with the package manager.

Is this a bug? Is there a variable I missed to set with the result that TL installs into the wrong folder?


You are using tlmgr without having adjusted the PATH.

tlmgr in turn calls fmtutil, and in your case the fmtutil installed by the package manager in /usr/bin is used.

Adjust the PATH to contain /usr/local/texlive/... before the other PATH components.


The best way to assure yourself that this is not the case is not to allow it to touch anything outside /usr/local/texlive.

If you install TeX Live with a dedicated user/group and use that identity for updates, then it is not possible for tlmgr to touch anything outseide /usr/local/texlive, even in the unlikely event that a bug or error should cause it to make the attempt.

The only part which requires root privileges is the creation of the user and directory, and giving that user ownership of that directory.

Note that this will also prevent files outside /usr/local/texlive being touched should you make a mistake or overlook something, as seems may be the case here.

  1. Create user/group e.g. texlive:texlive.

  2. Ensure that /usr/local/texlive exists and is owned by texlive:texlive.

  3. su texlive prior to installing TeX Live and prior to any use of tlmgr for installation updates, maintenance and administration.

  • Would be nice if the down-voter would say why. As far as I can tell, what I say is perfectly true. It is intended to complement norbert's excellent answer: a dedicated user/group protects me even when I screw up.
    – cfr
    May 25 '18 at 1:43

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