X9: A Shaggy TeX story...

We had just got our new UNIX boxes installed. Impressive beasts - RISC
architecture, colour screens, fast cached hard disks, and The X-window System
version 11.4.

I was working on some TeX documents, and decided to try out TeX on the new
machines. I transferred my documents from my home machine, and ran them
through TeX. All seemed fine, so I started up the previewer and loaded my

The previewer blurted out a warning message, and bombed out with a core

Undeterred, I tried printing the document - it printed perfectly.

There followed a period of painstaking research, during which I
systematically tried out sections of the document, running them through the
previewer to see what it could and could not cope with. A tedious task, but
by using a "binary search" type of algorithm I managed to home in on the
problem quite quickly.

Eventually, to cut a long story short, I discovered that the previewer used
X-window display fonts, and that the X font routines were crashing with a
warning message when asked to display characters from the German language -
my document had included several names with accented characters. In particular,
the accent on the `o' in `G\"odel' had caused it to crash.

All of this demonstrates the truth of the old adage: You can't make an umlaut
without breaking X.