This is documentation for Mathematica 6, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.2)

Troubleshooting on Unix and Linux

If you have problems using Mathematica on Unix or Linux, check this list for solutions.


  • Make sure the CD is properly mounted with the correct mount command (see "Mounting a CD on Unix and Linux"). If the filenames on the CD appear in the wrong case, it means the CD is mounted incorrectly.
  • On HP-UX, 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.


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


If the front end password dialog box appears when you launch Mathematica, either Mathematica could not locate the mathpass file or there was no valid password in the mathpass file. To resolve this problem, first check that there is a mathpass file in one of these directories: /usr/share/Mathematica/Licensing, $InstallationDirectory/Configuration/Licensing, or ~/.Mathematica/Licensing. If you did not find a mathpass file in these locations, follow the instructions in "Entering a Single-Machine Password" to re-enter your password.
If there is a mathpass file in one of those directories, the password or passwords are invalid. Make sure that your MathID number matches the MathID number used to issue your password. If your MathID number changes, you will need to contact Customer Service to get a new password. Contact information is provided in "Registration and Passwords".


By default, the front end runs the command 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 specify the full pathname of the math command.

Front End Preferences

Front end preferences, such as the names 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, is stored in caches. These caches are located in the directory ~/.Mathematica/FrontEnd/6.0_Caches. 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 option -cleanStart 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 Shift during startup. This will delete and rebuild the cache without rebuilding the front end initialization file.


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

Technical Support

For further assistance, check the Technical Support FAQs on the web at If you do not find the information you need, please contact Technical Support by sending email to or by calling +1-217-398-6500. Include your license number in all correspondence. Your license number is printed on your license certificate. It is also available after installation by going to the Help menu and clicking About Mathematica. You must be a registered customer in order to receive installation support. You must have a current Premier Service subscription to receive Technical Support.