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This is not a bug. It is a well known limitation when running the kernel on a headless server on Linux. Some operations require the Front End. Importing TeX is such an operation. The Front End requires an X server, regardless of what it's being used for. Simple solution: use Xvfb as the X server. Ref: ...


After managing to reproduce the problem (using Mathematica and looking into an strace I come to the following result: After issuing the ToExpression["x=4-2", TeXForm], the kernel start a front end: 15166 execve("[...]/SystemFiles/FrontEnd/Binaries/Linux-x86-64/Mathematica", ["[...]/SystemFiles/F"..., "-topDirectory", "/misc/psi/math-8.0", ...

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