A.2 Font Service

If you have worked with X at a site with workstations from several vendors, you may have encountered frustrating problems with the use of fonts. If fonts have different names on one host than they do on another, an application that performs normally on one display will abort with a “Can’t load font” error on another. Or you may have had to maintain separate defaults files for use on different displays.

Ideally, the site administrator could simply place fonts in a directory of a networked file system that is accessible to all hosts at the site. Unfortunately, no binary format for font data has been standardized, and the X servers supplied by different vendors expect data in mutually incompatible formats. If a vendor wishes to support several font formats, the server must include code to parse each one.

R5 provides an elegant solution to these problems in the form of a networked font service. Under this new model, an X server can obtain font data in a simple bitmap format from a font server process running somewhere on the network. The font server does the work of parsing font files for any supported format and exports font data in a bitmap format standardized by the X Font Service Protocol (reprinted in Volume Zero, X Protocol Reference Manual as of late 1992). X servers that take advantage of font service no longer need to do the work of parsing fonts themselves. In the near future, however, it is likely that workstation-based X servers and X terminals will continue ...

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