[tex-live] TeX Live 2008: nasty pdf(la)tex bug on Solaris SPARC with ZFS

Nelson H. F. Beebe beebe at math.utah.edu
Tue Sep 9 01:13:09 CEST 2008

We have made numerous experiments today with TeX Live 2008 pdf(la)tex
to understand and simplify the problem of giant (multi-TB or multi-PB)
files being created.

I now have a simple test case that exhibits the problem, and
experiments show that it manifests itself only on Sun Solaris SPARC.

On a ZFS system, I see something like this:

	% pdflatex bug.tex
	% ls -l bug.pdf
	-rw-rw-r-- 1 beebe beebe 116951959477640 Sep  8 16:38 bug.pdf
	% ls -lh bug.pdf
	-rw-rw-r-- 1 beebe beebe 107T Sep  8 16:38 bug.pdf

ZFS is Sun's Zettabyte File System, an advanced high-performance
filesystem that provides high reliability, snapshotting, indifference
to disk sizes, trivial size expansion, and a capability of addressing
10**21 bytes of diskspace.  For details, see, e.g.,


We have been running this filesystem for about four years now, the
last two of which have been in production mode with thousands of
users, whose home directories reside in ZFS.

On a UFS Solaris SPARC system (/var/tmp), I see this:

	% pdflatex bug.tex
	pdflatex: bug: File too large

	% ls -l bug.df
	-rw-rw-r-- 1 beebe beebe 6318 Sep  8 16:37 bug.pdf

I just did a test reinstallation of the latest TeX Live 2008 tree from

	-rw-rw-r-- 1 mirror mirror 3128049 Sep  7 19:43 ctan/tex-archive/systems/texlive/tlnet/2008/install-tl.zip

into a temporary directory, and repeated the experiment.  The bug is
still there, so I'm leaving our current 2008 installation unchanged.

Here is the test file:

% cat bug.tex




This is a picture of a golfer:

\centerline{\includegraphics[width = 0.5\textwidth]{cgolfer}}


The cgolfer.pdf file can be found here:


The bug is unrelated to the particular PDF file that is included as a
graphics image.

The bug does NOT appear when versions of pdflatex for the platforms

amd64-freebsd	  i386-openbsd	    mips-irix	      universal-darwin
i386-freebsd	  i386-solaris	    powerpc-linux     x86_64-linux

are run on the same ZFS filesystem.  Thus, the bug appears to be
unique to Solaris SPARC on ZFS.  The bug is absent from Solaris on
AMD64 and IA-32.  It is also absent from the 2007 edition of TeX Live
for Solaris SPARC.

There is one additional irregularity on Solaris SPARC: when the file
is resident in a non-ZFS filesystem, such as /var/tmp/, I get a
warning message and a bad PDF file:

	% pdflatex bug.tex
	pdflatex: bug: File too large

	% acroread-5.0.10 bug.pdf
	... file is damaged and cannot be repaired ...

	% acroread-8.1.2 bug.pdf
	... file is damaged and cannot be repaired ...

It would be nice if the "File too large" error from pdflatex reported
WHICH file is ``too'' large.  I have

	% ls -l cgolfer.pdf
	-rw-r--r-- 3 beebe staff 30190 Dec 15  1994 cgolfer.pdf

- Nelson H. F. Beebe                    Tel: +1 801 581 5254                  -
- University of Utah                    FAX: +1 801 581 4148                  -
- Department of Mathematics, 110 LCB    Internet e-mail: beebe at math.utah.edu  -
- 155 S 1400 E RM 233                       beebe at acm.org  beebe at computer.org -
- Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0090, USA    URL: http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe/ -

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