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Although the basic features in Kpathsea can be used for any type of path searching, it came about (like all libraries) with a specific application in mind: I wrote Kpathsea specifically for TeX system programs. I had been struggling with the programs I was using (Dvips, Xdvi, and TeX itself) having slightly different notions of how to specify paths; and debugging was painful, since no code was shared.
Therefore, Kpathsea provides some TeX-specific formats and features. Indeed, many of the supposedly generic path searching features were provided because they seemed useful in that conTeXt (font lookup, particularly).
Kpathsea provides a standard way to search for files of any of the supported file types; glyph fonts are a bit different than all the rest. Searches are based solely on filenames, not file contents--if a GF file is named `cmr10.600pk', it will be found as a PK file.
4.1 Supported file formats File types Kpathsea knows about. 4.2 File lookup Searching for most kinds of files. 4.3 Glyph lookup Searching for bitmap fonts. 4.4 Suppressing warnings Avoiding warnings via TEX_HUSH.
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