1

I try using biblatex with biber backend, but keep running into problems. I have seen many questions about this here on stackexchange, most recommending to run 'pdflatex, biber, pdflatex' and to check compatibility of biber and biblatex. Well, I use biber version 2.1 and biblatex version 3.0, so should be fine according to the compatibility matrix. I also only use the command line, specifically running:

pdflatex bibertest.tex
biber bibertest.bcf
pdflatex bibertest.tex

Does not seem to work.

Here is my minimal working example: bibertest.tex

\documentclass{report}
\usepackage[backend=biber]{biblatex}
\addbibresource{test.bib}
\listfiles
\begin{document}
    a \cite{thebook}
    \printbibliography
\end{document}

test.bib

@book{thebook,
    author = "Me",
}

logfiles: bibertest.log

This is pdfTeX, Version 3.14159265-2.6-1.40.16 (TeX Live 2015/TeX Live for SUSE Linux) (preloaded format=pdflatex 2016.12.14)  18 JUL 2017 10:34
entering extended mode
 restricted \write18 enabled.
 %&-line parsing enabled.
**bibertest.tex
(./bibertest.tex
LaTeX2e <2015/01/01> patch level 2
Babel <3.9m> and hyphenation patterns for 79 languages loaded.
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/base/report.cls
Document Class: report 2014/09/29 v1.4h Standard LaTeX document class
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/base/size10.clo
File: size10.clo 2014/09/29 v1.4h Standard LaTeX file (size option)
)
\c@part=\count79
\c@chapter=\count80
\c@section=\count81
\c@subsection=\count82
\c@subsubsection=\count83
\c@paragraph=\count84
\c@subparagraph=\count85
\c@figure=\count86
\c@table=\count87
\abovecaptionskip=\skip41
\belowcaptionskip=\skip42
\bibindent=\dimen102
)
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/biblatex.sty
Package: biblatex 2015/04/19 v3.0 programmable bibliographies (PK/JW/AB)

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/biblatex2.sty
Package: biblatex2 2015/04/19 v3.0 programmable bibliographies (biber) (PK/JW/A
B)

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/etoolbox/etoolbox.sty
Package: etoolbox 2015/08/02 v2.2a e-TeX tools for LaTeX (JAW)
\etb@tempcnta=\count88
)
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/graphics/keyval.sty
Package: keyval 2014/10/28 v1.15 key=value parser (DPC)
\KV@toks@=\toks14
)
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/oberdiek/kvoptions.sty
Package: kvoptions 2011/06/30 v3.11 Key value format for package options (HO)

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/generic/oberdiek/ltxcmds.sty
Package: ltxcmds 2011/11/09 v1.22 LaTeX kernel commands for general use (HO)
)
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/generic/oberdiek/kvsetkeys.sty
Package: kvsetkeys 2012/04/25 v1.16 Key value parser (HO)

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/generic/oberdiek/infwarerr.sty
Package: infwarerr 2010/04/08 v1.3 Providing info/warning/error messages (HO)
)
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/generic/oberdiek/etexcmds.sty
Package: etexcmds 2011/02/16 v1.5 Avoid name clashes with e-TeX commands (HO)

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/generic/oberdiek/ifluatex.sty
Package: ifluatex 2010/03/01 v1.3 Provides the ifluatex switch (HO)
Package ifluatex Info: LuaTeX not detected.
)
Package etexcmds Info: Could not find \expanded.
(etexcmds)             That can mean that you are not using pdfTeX 1.50 or
(etexcmds)             that some package has redefined \expanded.
(etexcmds)             In the latter case, load this package earlier.
)))
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/logreq/logreq.sty
Package: logreq 2010/08/04 v1.0 xml request logger
\lrq@indent=\count89

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/logreq/logreq.def
File: logreq.def 2010/08/04 v1.0 logreq spec v1.0
))
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/base/ifthen.sty
Package: ifthen 2014/09/29 v1.1c Standard LaTeX ifthen package (DPC)
)
(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/url/url.sty
\Urlmuskip=\muskip10
Package: url 2013/09/16  ver 3.4  Verb mode for urls, etc.
)
\c@tabx@nest=\count90
\c@listtotal=\count91
\c@listcount=\count92
\c@liststart=\count93
\c@liststop=\count94
\c@citecount=\count95
\c@citetotal=\count96
\c@multicitecount=\count97
\c@multicitetotal=\count98
\c@instcount=\count99
\c@maxnames=\count100
\c@minnames=\count101
\c@maxitems=\count102
\c@minitems=\count103
\c@citecounter=\count104
\c@savedcitecounter=\count105
\c@uniquelist=\count106
\c@uniquename=\count107
\c@refsection=\count108
\c@refsegment=\count109
\c@maxextratitle=\count110
\c@maxextratitleyear=\count111
\c@maxextrayear=\count112
\c@maxextraalpha=\count113
\c@abbrvpenalty=\count114
\c@highnamepenalty=\count115
\c@lownamepenalty=\count116
\c@maxparens=\count117
\c@parenlevel=\count118
\blx@tempcnta=\count119
\blx@tempcntb=\count120
\blx@tempcntc=\count121
\blx@maxsection=\count122
\blx@maxsegment@0=\count123
\blx@notetype=\count124
\blx@parenlevel@text=\count125
\blx@parenlevel@foot=\count126
\blx@sectionciteorder@0=\count127
\labelnumberwidth=\skip43
\labelalphawidth=\skip44
\biblabelsep=\skip45
\bibitemsep=\skip46
\bibnamesep=\skip47
\bibinitsep=\skip48
\bibparsep=\skip49
\bibhang=\skip50
\blx@bcfin=\read1
\blx@bcfout=\write3
\c@mincomprange=\count128
\c@maxcomprange=\count129
\c@mincompwidth=\count130
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load biblatex default data model...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'blx-dm.def' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/blx-dm.def)
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load biblatex custom data model...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'biblatex-dm.cfg' not found.
\c@afterword=\count131
\c@savedafterword=\count132
\c@annotator=\count133
\c@savedannotator=\count134
\c@author=\count135
\c@savedauthor=\count136
\c@bookauthor=\count137
\c@savedbookauthor=\count138
\c@commentator=\count139
\c@savedcommentator=\count140
\c@editor=\count141
\c@savededitor=\count142
\c@editora=\count143
\c@savededitora=\count144
\c@editorb=\count145
\c@savededitorb=\count146
\c@editorc=\count147
\c@savededitorc=\count148
\c@foreword=\count149
\c@savedforeword=\count150
\c@holder=\count151
\c@savedholder=\count152
\c@introduction=\count153
\c@savedintroduction=\count154
\c@namea=\count155
\c@savednamea=\count156
\c@nameb=\count157
\c@savednameb=\count158
\c@namec=\count159
\c@savednamec=\count160
\c@translator=\count161
\c@savedtranslator=\count162
\c@shortauthor=\count163
\c@savedshortauthor=\count164
\c@shorteditor=\count165
\c@savedshorteditor=\count166
\c@labelname=\count167
\c@savedlabelname=\count168
\c@institution=\count169
\c@savedinstitution=\count170
\c@lista=\count171
\c@savedlista=\count172
\c@listb=\count173
\c@savedlistb=\count174
\c@listc=\count175
\c@savedlistc=\count176
\c@listd=\count177
\c@savedlistd=\count178
\c@liste=\count179
\c@savedliste=\count180
\c@listf=\count181
\c@savedlistf=\count182
\c@location=\count183
\c@savedlocation=\count184
\c@organization=\count185
\c@savedorganization=\count186
\c@origlocation=\count187
\c@savedoriglocation=\count188
\c@origpublisher=\count189
\c@savedorigpublisher=\count190
\c@publisher=\count191
\c@savedpublisher=\count192
\c@language=\count193
\c@savedlanguage=\count194
\c@pageref=\count195
\c@savedpageref=\count196
\shorthandwidth=\skip51
\shortjournalwidth=\skip52
\shortserieswidth=\skip53
\shorttitlewidth=\skip54
\shortauthorwidth=\skip55
\shorteditorwidth=\skip56
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load compatibility code...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'blx-compat.def' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/blx-compat.def
File: blx-compat.def 2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex compatibility (PK/JW/AB)
)
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load generic definitions...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'biblatex.def' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/biblatex.def
File: biblatex.def 
\c@textcitecount=\count197
\c@textcitetotal=\count198
\c@textcitemaxnames=\count199
\c@biburlnumpenalty=\count200
\c@biburlucpenalty=\count201
\c@biburllcpenalty=\count202
\c@smartand=\count203
)
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load bibliography style 'numeric'...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'numeric.bbx' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/bbx/numeric.bbx
File: numeric.bbx 2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex bibliography style (PK/JW/AB)
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load bibliography style 'standard'...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'standard.bbx' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/bbx/standard.bbx
File: standard.bbx 2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex bibliography style (PK/JW/AB)
\c@bbx:relatedcount=\count204
\c@bbx:relatedtotal=\count205
))
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load citation style 'numeric'...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'numeric.cbx' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/cbx/numeric.cbx
File: numeric.cbx 2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex citation style (PK/JW/AB)
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\cite'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\parencite'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\footcite'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\footcitetext'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\smartcite'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\supercite'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\textcite'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\textcites'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\cites'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\parencites'.
Package biblatex Info: Redefining '\smartcites'.
)
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load configuration file...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'biblatex.cfg' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/biblatex.cfg
File: biblatex.cfg 
)))
Package biblatex Info: Trying to load language 'english'...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'english.lbx' found.

(/usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/biblatex/lbx/english.lbx
File: english.lbx 2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex localization (PK/JW/AB)
)
\@quotelevel=\count206
\@quotereset=\count207
 (./bibertest.aux)
\openout1 = `bibertest.aux'.

LaTeX Font Info:    Checking defaults for OML/cmm/m/it on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    ... okay on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    Checking defaults for T1/cmr/m/n on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    ... okay on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    Checking defaults for OT1/cmr/m/n on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    ... okay on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    Checking defaults for OMS/cmsy/m/n on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    ... okay on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    Checking defaults for OMX/cmex/m/n on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    ... okay on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    Checking defaults for U/cmr/m/n on input line 5.
LaTeX Font Info:    ... okay on input line 5.
Package biblatex Info: No input encoding detected.
(biblatex)             Assuming 'ascii'.
Package biblatex Info: Automatic encoding selection.
(biblatex)             Assuming data encoding 'ascii'.
\openout3 = `bibertest.bcf'.

Package biblatex Info: Trying to load bibliographic data...
Package biblatex Info: ... file 'bibertest.bbl' found.

(./bibertest.bbl)
Package biblatex Info: Reference section=0 on input line 5.
Package biblatex Info: Reference segment=0 on input line 5.


LaTeX Warning: Citation 'thebook' on page 1 undefined on input line 6.


LaTeX Warning: Empty bibliography on input line 7.

[1

{/var/lib/texmf/fonts/map/pdftex/updmap/pdftex.map}] (./bibertest.aux)

 *File List*
  report.cls    2014/09/29 v1.4h Standard LaTeX document class
  size10.clo    2014/09/29 v1.4h Standard LaTeX file (size option)
biblatex.sty    2015/04/19 v3.0 programmable bibliographies (PK/JW/AB)
biblatex2.sty    2015/04/19 v3.0 programmable bibliographies (biber) (PK/JW/AB)

etoolbox.sty    2015/08/02 v2.2a e-TeX tools for LaTeX (JAW)
  keyval.sty    2014/10/28 v1.15 key=value parser (DPC)
kvoptions.sty    2011/06/30 v3.11 Key value format for package options (HO)
 ltxcmds.sty    2011/11/09 v1.22 LaTeX kernel commands for general use (HO)
kvsetkeys.sty    2012/04/25 v1.16 Key value parser (HO)
infwarerr.sty    2010/04/08 v1.3 Providing info/warning/error messages (HO)
etexcmds.sty    2011/02/16 v1.5 Avoid name clashes with e-TeX commands (HO)
ifluatex.sty    2010/03/01 v1.3 Provides the ifluatex switch (HO)
  logreq.sty    2010/08/04 v1.0 xml request logger
  logreq.def    2010/08/04 v1.0 logreq spec v1.0
  ifthen.sty    2014/09/29 v1.1c Standard LaTeX ifthen package (DPC)
     url.sty    2013/09/16  ver 3.4  Verb mode for urls, etc.
  blx-dm.def
biblatex-dm.cfg
blx-compat.def    2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex compatibility (PK/JW/AB)
biblatex.def    
standard.bbx    2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex bibliography style (PK/JW/AB)
 numeric.bbx    2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex bibliography style (PK/JW/AB)
 numeric.cbx    2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex citation style (PK/JW/AB)
biblatex.cfg    
 english.lbx    2015/04/19 v3.0 biblatex localization (PK/JW/AB)
bibertest.bbl
 ***********


LaTeX Warning: There were undefined references.


Package biblatex Warning: Please (re)run Biber on the file:
(biblatex)                bibertest
(biblatex)                and rerun LaTeX afterwards.

Package logreq Info: Writing requests to 'bibertest.run.xml'.
\openout1 = `bibertest.run.xml'.

 ) 
Here is how much of TeX's memory you used:
 5954 strings out of 493091
 103235 string characters out of 6142991
 510990 words of memory out of 5000000
 9442 multiletter control sequences out of 15000+600000
 3948 words of font info for 15 fonts, out of 8000000 for 9000
 1141 hyphenation exceptions out of 8191
 44i,4n,32p,824b,729s stack positions out of 5000i,500n,10000p,200000b,80000s
</usr/share/texmf/fonts/type1/public/amsfonts/cm/cmbx10.pfb></usr/share/texmf
/fonts/type1/public/amsfonts/cm/cmr10.pfb>
Output written on bibertest.pdf (1 page, 19089 bytes).
PDF statistics:
 16 PDF objects out of 1000 (max. 8388607)
 10 compressed objects within 1 object stream
 0 named destinations out of 1000 (max. 500000)
 1 words of extra memory for PDF output out of 10000 (max. 10000000)

bibertest.blg:

[0] Config.pm:324> INFO - This is Biber 2.1
[0] Config.pm:327> INFO - Logfile is 'bibertest.blg'
[41] biber:295> INFO - === Di Jul 18, 2017, 10:34:05
[55] Biber.pm:333> INFO - Reading 'bibertest.bcf'
[140] Biber.pm:645> INFO - Found 1 citekeys in bib section 0
[151] Biber.pm:2977> INFO - Processing section 0
[172] Biber.pm:3115> INFO - Looking for bibtex format file 'test.bib' for section 0
[173] bibtex.pm:1021> INFO - Decoding LaTeX character macros into UTF-8
[173] bibtex.pm:895> INFO - Found BibTeX data source 'test.bib'
[197] UCollate.pm:66> INFO - Overriding locale 'en-US' defaults 'variable = shifted' with 'variable = non-ignorable'
[198] UCollate.pm:66> INFO - Overriding locale 'en-US' defaults 'normalization = NFD' with 'normalization = prenormalized'
[198] Biber.pm:2854> INFO - Sorting list 'nty' of type 'entry' with scheme 'nty' and locale 'en-US'
[198] Biber.pm:2858> INFO - No sort tailoring available for locale 'en-US'
[200] bbl.pm:506> INFO - Writing 'bibertest.bbl' with encoding 'ascii'
[200] bbl.pm:597> INFO - Output to bibertest.bbl

Both programs, pdflatex and biber return exit code 0, indicationg no error. But still there is no bibliography in the resulting pdf. What am I missing?

EDIT 1

changed test.bib to (copied from wikipedia):

@article{thebook,
   author  = {Shen Lin and Brian W. Kernighan},
   title   = {An Effective Heuristic Algorithm for the Travelling-Salesman Problem},
   journal = {Operations Research},
   volume  = {21},
   year    = {1973},
   pages   = {498--516},
}

output of biber --debug bibertest is then:

INFO - This is Biber 2.1
INFO - Logfile is 'bibertest.blg'
INFO - DEBUG mode: all messages are logged to 'bibertest.blg'
INFO - Reading 'bibertest.bcf'
INFO - Found 1 citekeys in bib section 0
INFO - Processing section 0
INFO - Looking for bibtex format file 'test.bib' for section 0
INFO - Decoding LaTeX character macros into UTF-8
INFO - Found BibTeX data source 'test.bib'
INFO - Overriding locale 'en-US' defaults 'variable = shifted' with 'variable = non-ignorable'
INFO - Overriding locale 'en-US' defaults 'normalization = NFD' with 'normalization = prenormalized'
INFO - Sorting list 'nty' of type 'entry' with scheme 'nty' and locale 'en-US'
INFO - No sort tailoring available for locale 'en-US'
INFO - Writing 'bibertest.bbl' with encoding 'ascii'
% $ biblatex auxiliary file $
% $ biblatex bbl format version 2.5 $
% Do not modify the above lines!
%
% This is an auxiliary file used by the 'biblatex' package.
% This file may safely be deleted. It will be recreated by
% biber as required.
%
\begingroup
\makeatletter
\@ifundefined{ver@biblatex.sty}
  {\@latex@error
     {Missing 'biblatex' package}
     {The bibliography requires the 'biblatex' package.}
      \aftergroup\endinput}
  {}
\endgroup


\refsection{0}
  \sortlist{nty}{nty}
    \entry{thebook}{article}{}
      \name{author}{2}{}{%
        {{hash=ee5ad1086dab61efed0851b6802d25e4}{Lin}{L\bibinitperiod}{Shen}{S\bibinitperiod}{}{}{}{}}%
        {{hash=1052228cbdc74ef71d9c24c30ddc01ef}{Kernighan}{K\bibinitperiod}{Brian\bibnamedelima W.}{B\bibinitperiod\bibinitdelim W\bibinitperiod}{}{}{}{}}%
      }
      \strng{namehash}{8dbb7ca376d9c40a1b134cdb0104f283}
      \strng{fullhash}{8dbb7ca376d9c40a1b134cdb0104f283}
      \field{sortinit}{L}
      \field{sortinithash}{c5feef8b80fd09f214a253043f4de4ae}
      \field{labelnamesource}{author}
      \field{labeltitlesource}{title}
      \field{journaltitle}{Operations Research}
      \field{title}{An Effective Heuristic Algorithm for the Travelling-Salesman Problem}
      \field{volume}{21}
      \field{year}{1973}
      \field{pages}{498\bibrangedash 516}
      \range{pages}{19}
    \endentry
  \endsortlist
\endrefsection
\endinput

INFO - Output to bibertest.bbl

And I just noticed: bibertest.bbl is an empty file!

EDIT 2

Copying the (relevant part of) output of biber bibertest to the empty file bibertest.bbl and then running pdflatex bibertest.tex again produces the expected pdf! So I guess the problem is that the package from Publishing:TeXLive is broken. Will try to install a different version.

EDIT 3

Solved! Removing texlive and the Publishing:TeXLive repo, then reinstalling texlive solved the problem. So apparently the biber package in the Publishing:TeXLive repo is broken. I should not ignore openSUSE's unstable warning anymore and simply live with old but stable software.

  • 3
    You use pretty ancient versions. But doesn't @book require some more field (mandatory)? – TeXnician Jul 18 '17 at 9:04
  • 1
    I don't have exactly your biber/biblatex versions but it works fine with older and newer versions. But your book entry is a bit too minimal, and it is qute possible that there was a bug that broke such entries. – Ulrike Fischer Jul 18 '17 at 9:26
  • Can you run biber --debug bibertest and show the output? The logs looks innocent enough so far. – moewe Jul 18 '17 at 10:14
  • @Hannebambel Don't stick with the old software, but How to install “vanilla” TeXLive on Debian or Ubuntu? – user36296 Jul 18 '17 at 21:22
  • @samcarter I try to avoid such, but installing in a non-default location needs me to update all my toolchain and replacing my current texlive and then resolving all the dependencies on openSUSE is not something I want to do... – Hannebambel Jul 19 '17 at 8:31
2

Problem solved. Biber version 2.1 and biblatex version 3.0 work well together as expected. The example in the question also works, even the short original version of test.bib.

The problem (apparently) is a broken package in openSUSE 42.2 3rd party repository Publishing:TeXLive. Downgrading to original openSUSE 42.2 packages (biber and biblatex) solved the problem.

If someone encounters a similar problem with biber, make sure that after you run biber there is something written in the bibertest.bbl file. Example below:

bibertest.bbl

% $ biblatex auxiliary file $
% $ biblatex bbl format version 2.5 $
% Do not modify the above lines!
%
% This is an auxiliary file used by the 'biblatex' package.
% This file may safely be deleted. It will be recreated by
% biber as required.
%
\begingroup
\makeatletter
\@ifundefined{ver@biblatex.sty}
  {\@latex@error
     {Missing 'biblatex' package}
     {The bibliography requires the 'biblatex' package.}
      \aftergroup\endinput}
  {}
\endgroup


\refsection{0}
  \sortlist{nty}{nty}
    \entry{thebook}{book}{}
      \name{author}{1}{}{%
        {{hash=318b2739ddc2c16c97b33c9b04b79f3e}{Me}{M\bibinitperiod}{}{}{}{}{}{}}%
      }
      \strng{namehash}{318b2739ddc2c16c97b33c9b04b79f3e}
      \strng{fullhash}{318b2739ddc2c16c97b33c9b04b79f3e}
      \field{sortinit}{M}
      \field{sortinithash}{adafae54b2ebf0512c2c60712fa62eec}
      \field{labelnamesource}{author}
    \endentry
  \endsortlist
\endrefsection
\endinput

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