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6.3.4. Fatal format file error; I'm stymied

Well...me too.frown

This what the TeX FAQ says about this error:

(La)TeX applications often fail with this error when you've been playing with the configuration, or have just installed a new version.

The format file contains the macros that define the system you want to use: anything from the simplest (Plain TeX) all the way to the most complicated, such as LaTeX or ConTeXt. From the command you issue, TeX knows which format you want.

The error message

Fatal format file error; I'm stymied

means that TeX itself can't understand the format you want. Obviously, this could happen if the format file had got corrupted, but it usually doesn't. The commonest cause of the message, is that a new binary has been installed in the system: no two TeX binaries on the same machine can understand each other's formats. So the new version of TeX you have just installed, won't understand the format generated by the one you installed last year.

Resolve the problem by regenerating the format; of course, this depends on which system you are using. On a teTeX-based system, run

fmtutil --all


fmtutil --byfmt=<format name>

to build only the format that you are interested in.

I got this error during the PDF processing (Section Since pdftex is the program that was running at this stage, I tried both

fmtutil --all


fmtutil --byfmt=pdftex

but the problem remained.I had NOT upgraded to any new version for any of the programs involved. What I had done, was to add hundreds of cross-references (probably more than 500) in just one section (see it in Credits for version 2.0 of the PHP-Nuke HOWTO).

The solution was to upgrade pdftex from 0.13d to 1.11b (pdfTeX (Web2C 7.5.2) 3.141592-1.11b) and jadetex from 1.3 to 3.13. Note that upgrading pdftex was not enough, jadetex had to be upgraded too. Of course, you would still have to use fmtutil as above. After the upgrades, the error disappeared. As a nice by-product, document processing seems to be much faster now, although I didn't conduct any benchmarks.

Last updated Mon Sep 24 01:19:25 CEST 2007 Permalink: http://www.karakas-online.de/mySGML/fatal-format-file-error.html All contents © 2002-2007 Chris Karakas