Font Management Under X

On most current Unix systems, fonts are made available to applications via the X Window system (although some application packages manage their own font information). In this section, we will consider the main administrative tasks related to managing fonts.


In an ideal world, fonts would be something that users took care of themselves. However, in this world, font handling under X is cumbersome enough that the system administrator often needs to get involved.

In this section, we consider font management using the standard X11R6 tools, and we refer to directory locations as defined by the normal installation of the package. These facilities and locations are often significantly altered (and broken) in some vendors’ implementations.

Font Basics

When you think of afont, you probably think of something like Times or Helvetica. These names actually referred tofont families containing a number of different typefaces: for example, regular Times, italic Times, bold Times, bold italic Times, and so on. At the moment, there are quite a few different formats for font files. The most important distinction among them is between bitmap fonts and outline fonts. Bitmap fonts store the information about the characters in a font as bitmap images, while outline fonts define the characters in a font as a series of lines and curves, comprising in this way mathematical representations of the component characters.

From a practical point of view, the main difference between these ...

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