April 17, 2014

.comment: Ain't Anti-Aliasing Amazing? - page 3

The Kindness of Strangers

  • December 27, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

Not all of my weekend of delight was due to the anti-aliasing stuff or my attempts to make it work. I was running Linux-2.4.0-test12, which brought total machine lockups to the Linux world (I'm given to understand that test13-pre3 fixed this, but I've gone back to test11 until test13 appears--the pre series is too fine a granularity for me). This added to the fun, in that lockups during compiles give e2fsck the fantods. But all of what follows is due to my stab at an anti-aliased KDE2.

Let us, for brevity's sake, omit the experimentation that led to the recipe cited above. So long, Friday and Saturday. By Sunday I had done the above, in order, and had anti-aliased KDE2, sort of. (If you don't make and install freetype2, and then add the host.def file, and then build and installXFree86-4.02, you're, um, screwed, which information I did not find until Saturday afternoon.)

By "sort of" I mean that the desktop fonts were all anti-aliased--and all Helvetica. (As a member in good standing of the Society to Preserve What's Left of the Language, I'm compelled to make the distinction: a font is a typeface of a particular size. Hence, Times New Roman is a typeface, while Times New Roman 14 is a font.) This was nice, but it would be nice, too, to look at other typefaces in all their anti-aliased glory. In KDE2 this is performed in a number of ways, easiest being KMenu > Preferences > Look & Feel > Fonts, then clicking on one of the Choose buttons.


The screenshots demonstrate the problem perfectly. Where once the choices were many, now they were none. It was a disaster.

Okay. Maybe I'd done something wrong. So I rebuilt the whole mess, all over again, taking special care with it. I'd also dropped a note on the kde-devel list, which produced a lot of moral support ("It's working fine here.") and some suggestions that, alas, produced no change.

I went back over all the documentation I could find, plus some that had been suggested to me. I tried all the possibilities I could think of. I recompiled all of KDE2--which in and of itself takes many hours. No joy. I found a mailing list message that suggested that the -no-opengl configure option when building qt was essential. So I rebuilt qt, adding that option to all the rest. The net effect? A not wholly unexpected ld.so barf--requiring yet another recompile of all of KDE2. And when I fired it up--no improvement. (And by now occasional anxious taps on my office door by my wife, who might have wondered if I had died or, worse, was loading up in a fiendish plan of the sort we read in the tabloids where someone--perhaps driven by anti-aliasing--loads up and shoots the family at holiday time.)

It was Christmas Eve, and I was doing battle with the computer. I dropped a plea to Keith Packard who, perhaps sensing my desperation, responded:

"KDE is busted--it uses the X font list to build *some*, but not all, of it's own dialogs. The easy fix is to add the TrueType fonts to the core server listing; make sure 'freetype' is loaded in the server, run 'ttmkfdir' and xset fp+ /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/truetype."

Which I did, insofar as I could figure it out. The phrase "core server listing" was a bit of a cypher. I figured I could wade around in the KDE2 source and figure out where it got its typefaces, in that there's a $KDEDIR/share/fonts directory. Nope. Late that evening I sent a note to Waldo Bastian, one of the KDE mainstays, asking him if he could help sort it out. He figured it meant adding the TrueType directory to my /etc/X11/XF86Config. Alas, I'd already done that. So I dropped a follow-up to Keith, baring my abject ignorance. On Christmas morning he responded:

# cd
# ttmkfdir > fonts.scale
# mkfontdir
$ xset fp+ /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/truetype
$ konsole

Oh, to be able to say that this made any difference.

It didn't. In that the kernel now provides some functionality traditionally supplied by XFree86, I thought that rebuilding it might be in order. No luck.

(Meanwhile, more family members were knocking timidly on my office door, curious as to whether I would replenish the wood in the fireplace. A crash of test12 had somehow nuked much of my KDE2 configuration. There are days when control of lightning should not be entrusted to me, and this was among them.)

But I had given myself a Christmas present. I'd remembered to back up my unaltered qt-2.2.3, and I always keep the last three kernels in lilo. I booted test11 and changed the symlink to an un-xft-enhanced qt (complete with opengl, thanks). The machine is reliable and, truth be told, I don't see much of a difference.


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