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New HOWTO: XFree86 Font Deuglification Mini HOWTO - page 2

Table of Contents, Section 1

  • March 23, 2001
2. X Server Configuration

There are a few easy steps that can be taken that will help X do its job
better.
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2.1. Setting The FontPath

The first place to look for curing font problems is the XF86Config file. /usr
/X11/lib/X11/XF86Config or /etc/X11/XF86Config are the common locations.
(This may be XF86Config-4 for X 4.x.) If you haven't guessed already, the
most important part of this file relating to fonts is the FontPath. Before we
get into that, this would be a good time to check the other parts of your X
configuration. Bad monitor settings can be even more of a headache than bad
fonts, so make sure your refresh rate is as high as your monitor can handle
(85 Hz is great, 75 Hz is OK, 60 Hz is painful.)  

Use your favorite text editor and edit XF86Config. Near the top of the file
in the "Files" section, you should see something like this:

   
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Speedo/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/"
       
   
This much should be the same, or at least similar, for both XFree86 3.x and
4.x. The FontPath tells X where to find the fonts it uses to render text on
your display. Order is important -- when an X application asks X to render
some text, the X server usually has some leeway to choose the font that is
used. The X server then goes through the FontPath and grabs the first font it
sees that matches the X client's criteria, and then renders. Note that
Redhat's xfs for versions 6.x and later has a different way of setting the
FontPath. See the Section 3.2.2 below for more on xfs. 

If the 100dpi fonts are not listed, they probably did not get installed for
whatever reason, so you may want install them now. Default installations
typically put 75dpi fonts before the 100dpi fonts. If you have a high
resolution display, this means very tiny fonts. If this is the case, the
first tweak you'll use is to switch the 75dpi and 100dpi FontPath lines:

   
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Speedo/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/"
        
   
Next, specify that you prefer to use unscaled bitmap fonts. If you've ever
used Netscape or any other program that displays titles using big fonts,
you'll likely notice that those fonts are pixelized. This is ugly and needs
to be fixed. So add :unscaled to the ends of the misc, 100dpi and 75dpi
fonts. You can even use both unscaled and scaled fonts if you want, just put
the unscaled FontPath lines first to tell X you prefer unscaled fonts if
possible:

   
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc:unscaled"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi:unscaled"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi:unscaled"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Speedo"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"
    FontPath        "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
        
   
After making these changes, restart X. Doesn't the desktop look better
already?
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2.2. X Server Command Line Options

The next thing you need to do is adjust the command line options for the X
server. You'll want to use the -dpi switch which specifies the display
resolution in dots per inch. As a lot of systems use high resolution displays
these days, chances are they'll be working at 100 dpi.

If you start X from the console command prompt, type:

$ startx -dpi 100

If you use xdm (or friends such as gdm) for graphical logins, you'll want to
edit your /usr/X11/lib/X11/xdm/Xservers file (or possibly /etc/X11/xdm/
Xservers) which will have the command line for the Xserver in it. Mine has
the line:

:0 local /usr/X11R6/bin/X -dpi 100 -gamma 1.6

More information is in the X and Xserver man pages.
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