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3.4.5 Troubleshooting

If you have problems installing or using Mathematica, check this list to see if you have any of the problems indicated. You can also find the latest information on the web at


  • Make sure the CD is properly mounted with the correct mount command (see Section 3.1).

  • If the filenames on the CD appear in the wrong case, it means the CD is mounted incorrectly.

  • If your system automounts CDs, the automounter may need to be disabled before the CD can be mounted correctly.

  • If you see a message saying that the file system is busy, you can only unmount the CD when no programs are running from the CD, no files are open, no users have a directory of the CD as their current working directory, and no font directories from the CD are on a user's font path. To clear the font path, have all users exit the X server.


  • Make sure you have write permission to the hard disk that will store the Mathematica installation.

  • Make sure there is adequate disk space on the hard drive. You need between 310 and 390 MB of hard disk space, depending on which Unix platform you are using.

  • Make sure the installer is run from the directory in which it is located.

  • If at any time you think you may be missing files, or if you feel the Mathematica distribution you have installed has become corrupt, simply reinstall using the steps performed to install Mathematica the first time. The installer replaces any missing files, re-creates shell scripts, and appends the password information to the mathpass file. The installer, however, cannot verify the integrity of the files if the files have become corrupted.


  • Make sure your MathID matches the MathID used to issue your password.

  • If the MathID changes, you will need a new password.

  • Make sure that the type of password is consistent with the type of license (that is, single-machine or network).

  • In order to use a network license, you must first start the license manager MathLM. Make sure the hostname is preceded with ! in the mathpass file to indicate that the entry is for a network license.

Running math

  • If you see the message Warning: cannot convert string or Warning: translation table syntax error, you need to check your XKeysymDB file for missing or incorrect keysyms. If you are not sure which keysyms to remove or change, please contact Technical Support or see the Technical Support website at

  • Make sure that users have a home directory so that initialization files can be set up in ~/.Mathematica

  • If you get startup errors when using a network license, make sure that the license manager MathLM is running and that the process limit has not been reached. Instructions for doing this are given in Section 3.2.

  • If you see the error No valid password found, make sure that the password file has a password in it. Remember that if all processes are currently taken in a network license, you are told that all processes are in use, and you are then prompted to give a single-machine password.

  • The math and mathematica scripts must be on your path to run. Otherwise, you will need to use the full pathname to run the script.

  • The front end by default runs math to start the kernel. If math is not on the path, then you must use the Kernel Configuration Options command in the Kernel menu to make the appropriate changes.

Running mathematica

  • Make sure that users have a home directory so that initialization files can be set up in ~/.Mathematica.

  • Front end preferences, such as the names of recent palettes and style sheets or the locations of recently opened and saved files, are stored in ~/.Mathematica/FrontEnd. The most convenient way to reset the front end preferences to their default values is to restart Mathematica using the command mathematica -cleanStart. This will cause the initialization file to be rebuilt automatically.

  • Information about your Mathematica layout, such as the locations of text resource files and Help Browser files, is stored in caches. These caches are located in three directories in ~/.Mathematica: FrontEnd, Kernel, and Licensing. A corrupted cache may cause the front end to produce an error or quit immediately on startup. The most convenient way to reset the caches to their default values is to use the cleanStart command at startup. This will cause the Mathematica caches and the initialization file to be rebuilt automatically. If you want to rebuild your caches but retain your preferences, hold down ShiftKey during startup. This will delete and rebuild the cache without rebuilding the front end intialization file.

  • If some keyboard shortcuts or typesetting commands, such as ControlKeyLeftModified6 RightModified, do not work, see if the window manager and Mathematica are trying to use the same keyboard shortcuts. In some cases, using the option -pureKeys may correct this problem.

  • If the front end is having trouble connecting to the kernel, use the Kernel Configuration Options command in the Kernel menu to edit the definition of the local kernel. You will need to specify the complete pathname and filename of the kernel, such as /usr/local/bin/math.

  • Keyboard shortcuts for menus and typesetting commands are based on the layout of U.S. keyboards. On international keyboards, you may have to use an alternative key combination to activate the menu command. Some key sequences may not work if the character that constitutes the shortcut is accessed through the Mod1Key, Mod2Key, or ControlKey key.


  • Make sure that the fonts are installed on the machine that displays the front end or on the font server.

  • If you see the error xset: bad font path element, either the fonts are not properly installed on your machine, or your font path is too long and exceeds the allowable limit. Make sure the fonts are properly installed, or copy the fonts to a directory that is already on the font path.

  • The operating system on which you are running Mathematica should also have font scaling technology, which usually requires that it be based on R5 or above. The front end will run even on those systems without font scaling technology. But, in this case, you should expect poor performance on fonts that must be scaled.

The following list provides platform-specific information regarding the installer program and Mathematica executables.


  • Be sure to use the pfs_mount command and not the mount command. The pfs_mount command mounts the CD with Rock Ridge extensions. If you use the mount command, the filenames on the CD may appear in all uppercase letters and some filenames may be truncated. Note that the pfs_mount command needs a daemon to be running in the background.

  • A CD-ROM mounted on an HP machine cannot be mounted by another machine across a network. If you want to install Mathematica on a remote machine using the CD-ROM on an HP, you must first mount the remote file system on the HP machine, then use the HP machine to do the installation.

  • If you see the message Warning: cannot convert string, you need to check your XKeysymDB file for missing or incorrect keysyms. For example, if you see errors regarding InsertLine, DeleteLine, InsertChar, and DeleteChar, add the following lines to /usr/lib/X11/XKeysymDB:

InsertLine : 1000FF70

DeleteLine : 1000FF71

InsertChar : 1000FF72

DeleteChar : 1000FF73

Alternatively, you may create a separate XKeysymDB file in another directory for use with Mathe-matica, and then add the following command to the top of the mathematica or math script.

XKEYSYMDB=/directory/XKeysymDB; export XKEYSYMDB

  • On HP, you may get xset errors for a different reason. For a description of the problem and how to fix it, go to our website at


  • Mathematica makes use of Motif 1.2.4 graphical user interface libraries developed by The Open Group ( Before you can use Mathematica, your computer must be licensed to use Motif software. The Linux operating system does not include a Motif license. Motif libraries are statically bound into Mathematica, so there is no need to purchase additional Motif software. You only need to have a "right to use" license.

You can get a license to use Motif from any authorized supplier. A current list of Motif vendors may be found at the following website:


  • You may see an error message like this: ContinuationSolaris/Mathematica: fatal: can't open file: error=2

This indicates the front end is missing a Motif library, which is typically installed elsewhere on other systems. In order to avoid this problem on Solaris, type the following at the command line (or include it in your .cshrc or .login file).

% setenv LD_LIBRARY_PATH /usr/dt/lib