I installed vanilla TeX Live 2020 on my Debian-based system, Knoppix 8.6.1, according to the manual at http://www.tug.org/texlive/quickinstall.html

Whenever I try to start xelatex I get this error-message:

$ xelatex
xelatex: error while loading shared libraries: libfontconfig.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Whenever I try to start xetex I get this error-message:

$ xetex
xetex: error while loading shared libraries: libfontconfig.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory


What am I to do to get xetex / xelatex to work ?

$ sudo apt-get install libfontconfig1

yields the following message:

libfontconfig1 is already the latest version (2.13.1-2).

$ sudo apt-get install fontconfig

yields the following message:

fontconfig is already the latest version (2.13.1-2).


Shame on me:

I found out that the TeX Live installer assumed the wrong platform:

x86_64-linux instead of i386-linux .

The system in question, Knoppix 8.6.1, is based on Debian/stable (buster), with some packages from Debian/testing and unstable (sid) for newer graphics drivers or desktop software packages. It uses Linux kernel 5.3.5 and Xorg 7.7 (core 1.20.4).

The system in question can be used as a Live-System which can be installed on DVD/USB-stick/(micro) SD-memory-card as well.

Therefore i386-binaries are used by this system no matter if the machine in use is i386 or x86_64.

I ran this system on an x86_64-machine.

Thus the command arch yielded: x86_64
while the command dpkg --print-architecture yielded i386.

The TeX Live Installer "assumed" an x86_64-platform which I didn't realize.

If you run the installer as described in the linked manual, i.e., via the command sudo ./install-tl -gui, then on x86_64-machines installation for x86_64-platforms is pre-entered in the "Advanced" settings of the GUI no matter if Debian-i386-binaries are in use (which is possible with x86_64-machines). And you can't change this pre-entered setting in the GUI-"Advanced"-screen but only have i386-binaries installed additionally to the x86_64-binaries.

Removing the erroneous x86_64-TeX Live installation and running the installer with the -force-platform-option, i.e., via the command sudo ./install-tl -gui -force-platform i386-linux now gave me a TeX Live-installation with i386-binaries where everything works smoothly.

Sorry for the noise.

  • Run LD_DEBUG=libs xetex to see where XeTeX is looking for libraries. Dec 21, 2020 at 9:50
  • Try also rebuilding the ld.so.cache using sudo sh -c "rm /etc/ld.so.cache; ldconfig" Dec 21, 2020 at 9:54
  • Because on Debian the file is located at /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libfontconfig.so.1 but that is not looked up by your dynamic linker. Dec 21, 2020 at 9:55
  • A last thing to try would be to list all files included in libfontconfig1 using dpkg -L libfontconfig1 to see where libfontconfig.so.1 is installed. Dec 21, 2020 at 10:07
  • 1
    @HenriMenke I edited my question to add that information. Meanwhile I found the reason for the problem: Binaries for the wrong platform were automatically installed by the TeX Live installer: x86_64 instead of i386 because the machine is x86_64 while the Debian-binaries in use (a Live System on USB-stick which I am going to remaster) are i386. Dec 21, 2020 at 19:36

1 Answer 1


While the TeX Live installer could detect this specific case (as mentioned on the mailing list, and I will discuss this with Karl), a solution could be to

dpkg --add-architecture amd64
apt-get update
apt-get install libfontconfig1:amd64

should work, too.

  • You are right - as long as you focus only on the x86_64-machine which was in use by me the day when my installing-attempts took place. The scenario described by me focuses on a Live System runable from USB-Stick/(micro) SD-card/DVD (after remastering) which is intended to work both on i386-platforms and on x86_64-platforms. Installing TeX Live x86_64-linux binaries and making xetex work by additionally installing libfontconfig1:amd64 would lead to TeX Live not working when running the Live System in question on i386-machines. Dec 23, 2020 at 11:10
  • That is true, but for these very specific cases the --force-platform is here. I don't think we can and want to try to detect all combinations (next is arm64 running on amd64? Or qemu runs, ...).
    – norbert
    Dec 24, 2020 at 3:21
  • That's why in the mailing list I wrote that probably it is sufficient to mention in the short installation-tutorials that there are edge scenarios where you are on your own with making sure that binaries for the correct platform are installed by applying the -force-platform-option. I also think that people who play around with such specific scenarios as mine should know on their own what they need to pay attention to. Shame in me that I did not see it myself_before_asking my question. Nonetheless I will not delete the question in case s.b. else stumbles over similar problems. Dec 24, 2020 at 12:59

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