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OS X 10.5 font woes
dead mac
nmg

Since moving to a Mac a bit over a year ago, I've had only a few reasons to look back (the business with the HP LJ1022 printer being one of them). I'm now rather close to the end of my tether, and the reason is fonts.

As an academic and a computer scientist, I end up writing quite a lot of papers and presentations with maths in them. Like any sensible person, I use LaTeX for typesetting the maths; it's a lot easier to type $\sum_{i=0}^{i=n-1} i^2$ than to wrestle with the equation editor in Word. I've also been using LaTeX for rendering mathematical expressions in lecture slides; there are two tools - LaTeXit and LaTeX Equation Editor - which make putting maths in Powerpoint or KeyNote a drag-and-drop operation.

However, I've spent quite a lot of time over the last week trying to debug a problem with the font rendering of TeX-generated PDF files on OS X. If I wrote a LaTeX file containing the following:

\documentclass{article}
\begin{document}
\section{This is a test}
\[e = mc^2 \rightarrow \chi \pi \ldots r^2 \]
\end{document}

then I'd expect it to render something like this:

Preview renders it like that, but not reliably - perhaps one time in eight. The rest of the time, it randomly substitutes a sans serif font for the various Computer Modern fonts. Sometimes it looks like this (missing the italic font):

Sometimes it looks like this (missing the bold and italic fonts):

And sometimes it looks like this (missing the bold and symbol fonts):

It isn't predictable which rendering I get. The problem also isn't limited to CM, but appears whenever you have a subset of a Type1 font embedded in PDF (on my machine, at least); TeX isn't the problem. The problem didn't exist on 10.4. The best guess from the Mac communities is that it's a cache corruption problem with the OS X PDF-rendering component on 10.5 (which would explain why I see the same problem in LaTeXit, LEE and Papers, but not in Acrobat).

I really don't see how Apple could have let a release out of the door with a bug like this - this is surely a critical bug for anyone in publishing.

Edited to add links:


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It isn't just there for LaTeX users, though.

There's a chance that it may be an artifact of a frotzed upgrade to 10.5; I've not yet found anyone with the bug who did a clean install, or an archive and reinstall.

Have you tried asking osx-users? That's got a mixture.

Good call. I really needed a kick like this to get around to subscribing to it.

Tell me what I need to install and do to try and reproduce it and I'll give it a go; I did an archive & install on both machines. At least that might tell you if doing an archive & install now (not too harmful, surely?) would likely cure the problem...

I'd start with MacTeX and LaTeX Equation Editor - that duplicates my LaTeX environment.

Hmm. This post, among others, seems to point at the LaTeX equation editor as being a major culprit in the corruption -- do you only get the problem (after clearing your font caches) after running the equation editor?

I've stopped using LEE, and I still see the problem. It's possible that LaTeXit also triggers the same behaviour, but I've also been seeing the problems in Pages since I upgraded (and I'd put that down to a poor ps->pdf conversion at the time).

Okay, so I've got me some MacTeX, and I've got me LEE and LaTeXit. For starters, how would you get your example LaTeX document above into a PDF? And would it normally be quickly apparent if things were broken?

Assuming your file is text.tex:

pdflatex test.tex


You could also try going the long way via:

latex text.tex
dvips text.dvi
pstopdf test.ps


You should see the problems as soon as you open the resulting PDF file in Preview.app

Well, that all worked beautifully for me, and the equation appears as in your expected first rendering above. Now I'm going to try with LaTeXit.

(Incidentally, my raw prejudice is saying that LEE will be the culprit, simply because anything so elderly to come in a .sit file always seems to be hideously broken or incompatible in some way...)

Hmm. LaTeXiT appears not to work. Unless it normally hangs for several minutes when you press the "LaTeX it!" button, anyway...

Ah, okay, so there's a known problem with the latest version of LaTeXiT on Leopard. I've now reverted to 1.14.4, and it works fine (or it works fine with \[e = mc^2 \rightarrow \chi \pi \ldots r^2 \], anyway.) I've saved the output as a PDF and opened it with Preview, and regenerated my test.tex file and it still looks fine too.

Hmm. Time to play with LEE, I guess... Nope, that works fine, too.

Hard to tell how much hope that might give you, bearing in mind I didn't have any of the LaTeX stuff installed when I upgraded, of course. But yes, a Tiger machine upgraded to Leopard with "Archive and Install" seems to pass the test of generating your example equation quite happily into PDF using pdflatex, LaTeXiT, and LEE, and I've tried it a few times with each, finishing off with re-generating from my test file using the latex/dvips/pstopdf route. All the results look fine in Preview.

Hope that helped in some way. Of course, it may be some strange spurious thing which happens when doing a particular bit of typesetting and then breaks things forevermore...

While the long way certainly works, something like TeXShop is less daunting.

MacTEX + TeXShop (+ XeTeX for ligatures) = win.

Indeed - TeXShop is my LaTeX editing environment of choice these days (although emacs still comes a close second).

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