I have tried to install XeTeX on my Debian system, but this does not appear to work. Here are the steps I took:

  • I loaded TeX Live 2011 with tlmgr -gui.
  • I loaded a repository.
  • I selected "not installed packages".
  • I selected "collection-xetex".
  • I clicked "install".
  • The log reported the installation of the included packages, including xetex.
  • Then a warning appeared saying "Running install collection-xetex failed. Please consult the log window for details."

The log reports the following:

/usr/local/bin/fmtutil: 1: xetex: not found Error: `xetex -ini -jobname=xelatex -progname=xelatex -etex xelatex.ini' failed


fmtutil: Error! Not all formats have been built successfully. Visit the log files in directory /usr/local/texlive/2011/texmf-var/web2c for details.


This is a summary of all failed' messages: xetex -ini -jobname=xetex -progname=xetex -etex xetex.ini' failed `xetex -ini -jobname=xelatex -progname=xelatex -etex xelatex.ini' failed

tlmgr: exiting unsuccessfully (status 1).

Some additional details:

  • I was unable to find a xelatex command anywhere in the path.
  • Rebooting the computer resulted in no known change.
  • Uninstalling and reinstalling from a different repository produced identical results.
  • The TeX Live Manager 2011 GUI currently reports that "collection-xetex" is installed.

What do I need to do to get XeTeX working?

  • 2
    It seems that you don't have correctly set the PATH. Did you choose to make symlinks for the executables?
    – egreg
    Nov 19, 2011 at 0:39
  • During the first install, I set TeX Live to make symlinks. All of the packages from the first install are available. I see now that xelatex is inside my TeX Live directories, but there is no symlink. Is there a setting somewhere that has TeX Live fix symblinks?
    – Village
    Nov 19, 2011 at 1:05
  • I discovered the "Update Symbolic Links" option in "Actions" > "Handle symlinks in system dirs". It installed fine now.
    – Village
    Nov 19, 2011 at 1:29
  • 1
    @Village: Staying true to this Q&A, I suggest you write up a separate answer to your original question, keeping in mind that it may be helpful to future readers experiencing a similar problem to yours. Self-answers (even if they are accepted) are perfectly admissible, and a well-written answer may earn you additional reputation.
    – Werner
    Nov 19, 2011 at 3:55

2 Answers 2


The problem lies in the fact that you chose to create symbolic links for the executables in /usr/local/texlive/2011/bin/<architecture> to /usr/local/bin.

With tlmgr there's the possibility to update them, but the action is not performed automatically.

However, my advices are:

  1. Always install the full TeX Live

  2. Never create symbolic links, particularly on Debian based systems

If you don't have strict space constraints, do a full TeX Live install. It would have avoided the problem of installing the XeTeX subsystem.

Changing what's in /usr/local/bin is dangerous as other system utilities may choose to install something there. It's better to change the PATH variable and the safest method is to write a file zzz-texlive.sh containing

export PATH=/usr/local/texlive/2011/bin/`uname -i`-linux:$PATH
export MANPATH=/usr/local/texlive/2011/texmf/doc/man:$MANPATH
export INFOPATH=/usr/local/texlive/2011/texmf/doc/info:$INFOPATH

and move it into /etc/profile.d. After a logout/login cycle, the PATH variable will contain the correct directory for the executables.

  • 3
    This is not the proper way of setting the system-wide $PATH on Debian systems. Particularly because root needs to have the directory in $PATH and root shells don't read /etc/profile (IIRC). Instead, it should be added to /etc/environment. Note that this file is not a shell script but just a list in the form VARIABLE=<stuff>. You can also add MANPATH=<stuff> and INFOPATH=<stuff> here such that man and info will find the documentation from your TeX Live installation.
    – kahen
    Nov 19, 2011 at 13:14
  • It doesn't help that the documentation on how to install Vanilla TeX Live 2011 on Debian systems (link) is a bit inaccurate since its sample texlive-local file doesn't list texlive-base-bin. Caught me off guard when I installed it manually myself. Now if only I could get sudo to work with the TeX Live binaries... "sudo: mkluatexfontdb: command not found" (but it's in all users' $PATH... Weird)
    – kahen
    Nov 19, 2011 at 13:21
  • FWIW, I figured out the problem with sudo. It's usually compiled with a built-in "secure path" to prevent accidental or malicious clobbering of programs that are normally executed with sudo. Contrast sudo -i followed by echo $PATH with sudo env | grep PATH.
    – kahen
    Nov 19, 2011 at 16:35

As stated Egred is always better to install the full updated TeX Live. Some times the repositoires are not updated. I have fixed the same issue using this ppa.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jonathonf/texlive
sudo apt update && sudo apt install texlive-full

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.