Xmanager provides many font files for X applications. A family of fonts are grouped and stored in a directory. A list of font directories forms a font catalogue. All the fonts are managed by Xmanager. The font that an X application needs to use has to be already installed in Xmanager.

Even though Xmanager includes many fonts required for most systems and applications, you can still add new fonts. It is, therefore, important that you understand installing and managing fonts.

Font format

Xmanager supports BDF, PCF, Speedo, and Type1 font formats.

BDF (Bitmap Distribution Format) is a text-based format which can be edited with a text editor. Because BDF fonts are huge, they are usually converted to the PCF format to be used with Xmanager. The file extension is ".BDF". To convert to PCF format, Xmanager provides the bdftopcf.exe program which is in the Xmanager folder.

PCF (Portable Compiled Format) is a compiled binary format which is portable across heterogenous systems. It is smaller and faster than BDF fonts and the file extension is ".PCF".

Speedo is a scalable font format provided by Bitstreams Inc. The file extension is ".SPD".

Type1 is a scalable font format provided by IBM. The file extensions are ".PFA" and ".PFB".

Most Unix systems compress font files to save disk space and the file extension may be ".pcf.Z" for PCF font files. Xmanager also can read the compressed PCF fonts.

Font name

The font name used in an X Window system is given according to the rules of the XLFD (X Logical Font Description Convention). A font name is divided into 14 parts by 14 hyphens (-). Between every two hyphens, there is information about the manufacturer, style, size or the standard organization. For example:


This kind of font name defined by the XLFD is called a well-formed font name. The font manufacturer does not necessarily have to use the well-formed font names when naming fonts.

Well-formed font names are long and hard to remember as shown above. Therefore, an alias can be defined for a font to make the name simple. For more information about font alias, see Font directory.

You can also shorten font names by using wild characters, "?", and "*" when specifying a font for X applications. "?" is a symbol that represents zero or one letter, and "*" represents zero or more letters. So, you can shorten the font name above as following to specify a font for the xterm program:

# xterm -fn "-misc-fixed-*-iso8859-?"

Of course, the names shortened like this can correspond to many font names. In that case, the first font on Xmanager will be selected for the application.

Font directory

A font directory contains many font files, a FONTS.DIR file and an optional FONTS.ALIAS file.

The FONTS.DIR file contains the information on font files in the directory, and it should be updated whenever font files are added or deleted. When Xmanager starts, it reads only FONTS.DIR and FONTS.ALIAS files, not actual font files. Thus, even if you add a new font file, Xmanager cannot find it if the FONTS.DIR was not updated for the new font. You can generate the FONTS.DIR file using mkfntdir.exe in Xmanager folder.

The contents of a FONTS.DIR file are simple as shown below:

6X9.PCF -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal--9-90-75-75-c-60-iso8859-1

The first line shows the number of the font files in the directory. From the second line on, each line contains the information on each font. The file name is on the left, and the font name is on the right. X applications need to know only the font names, not file names.

The FONTS.ALIAS file contains the aliases for font names. If a font name is too long to use, you can add an alias for the font. For example:

fixed6x9 -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal--9-90-75-75-c-60-iso8859-1

One alias is registered in each line. The alias is on the left and the real font name is on the right. After giving an alias name, you can use the alias when running X applications. For example:

# xterm -fn "fixed6x9"

This will open the 6x9.PCF font file as shown above.

Font server

A font server provides various formats of font files to clients through a network. It is usually run in the Unix or Linux systems.

If a font server is running on the remote host, Xmanager can get required fonts from the font server. By using a font server, you can avoid to install fonts in Xmanager and save disk space.

Once a font server is running on the network, you can register it in the Xconfig program to get font service.

Font catalogue and font path element

A font catalogue is a list of font path elements. A font path element is a font directory or a font server. It is stored in a server profile and Xmanager reads it to load font files and font servers.

You can edit the font catalogue from the Font tab of the Properties dialog box of a server profile.