SUMMARY: Problem executing troff under Solaris 2.5

From: Cathy Hargrave (
Date: Tue Jul 09 1996 - 11:40:32 CDT


My thanks to Casper for his assistance and for pointing me in the right direction.

To summarize:

A user moved to a Solaris 2.5 machine and wanted to continue to use a script that called
troff and piped the output to pscat which converted it to PostScript format. He received
the following error:

   troff: can't open tables for /usr/share/pslib/troff.font/Times/ftXX/devpost/DESC.out

The user did not know anything about troff, PostScript, or fonts. He just wanted to continue
using the utility in a program he was writing.

As Casper said, this was not a Solaris problem, but a porting problem. The solution was
simple in the end: change the font library location, or even better, use the Solaris version
of the utility obtained from the Internet.

Initially, I did searched at an archie site for a Solaris port of the utility. Having no
success there, I turned to rewriting the script, hence my confusion and posting. The utility
worked fine under Sun OS despite the fact that the troff command line parameters were not
valid according to the man pages. The command line pararmeter were valid according to the
Solaris man pages, but the utility aborted. What I didn't know at the time was that the font
library was an Adobe PostScript library. I still am researching information on the Adobe
PostScript product. I know it was purchased for our Sun OS workstations, but our Solaris
workstations arrive preconfigured. A collegue located the the Solaris version of the utility,
and that is what I've given the user. In case anyone uses this utility, called ptroff, the
font library was installed on Solaris under /usr/lib/font.

I will keep Casper's reference to dpost in mind for future use, but it didn't apply to this case
because troff never produced any output.


Cathy L. Hargrave phone: (214) 466-7599
SGS-Thomson Microelectronics, Inc. fax: (214) 466-7279
1310 Electronics Drive - MS 600 e-mail:
Carrollton, TX 75006

To: (Cathy Hargrave)
Subject: Re: Problem executing troff under Solaris 2.5
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 01 Jul 1996 17:15:16 CDT."
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 1996 09:14:48 +0200
From: Casper Dik <casper@holland.Sun.COM>
Status: RO

>One of my users moved to a Solaris 2.5 machine and now receives
>the following error message from ptroff, a script which executes
>troff and prints to a PostScript printer:
>command line entry:
> tbl zwl.txt | ptroff -

ptroff is not a standard Solaris 2.x command.

>error message:
> troff: can't open tables for /usr/share/pslib/troff.font/Times/ftXX/devpost/DESC.out
>line executed in the script:
>troff -F/usr/share/pslib/troff.font/Times/ftXX -t /usr/share/pslib/troff.font/Times/font.head
>/cathy/zwl.txt | pscat -F/usr/share/pslib/troff.font/Times/font.ct
>Obviously the script expects a subdirectory, ftXX, which does not exist. The
>workstations arrive already configured, apparently without it installed.

None of the "pslib" directories are standard Solaris 2.x directories.

>Interestingly, the Sun OS version makes the same call with the same parameters,
>and has the same files in /usr/share/pslib/troff.font/Times as the Solaris, and
>ftXX is not available, but the script finishes normally.

What product is this? Looks like transcript?

>Has anyone with experience using troff under Solaris 2.5 suggest a solution or
>where can I find the missing directory?

It's not standard software so it's not a Solaris problem but rather a
package installation problem.

If you want to convert troff to postscript look into dpost(1)


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