[Fontconfig] Tools to ensure at least minimal functionality

Enrique Perez-Terron enrio at online.no
Mon Jan 24 05:29:31 EST 2005


I just upgraded my FC2 box to FC3 and found that the display manager gdm
was unable to show the login prompts. Instead it kept restarting every
few seconds, switching to virtual console 7 each time - making it quite
hard and unpleasant to recover.

It turned out to be due to a config.cache-1 file listing non-existent
Vera.ttf and friends. This was the first font on the list of preferred
sans-serif fonts.

While this is really something that the gdm maintainers should look at,
it made me think a step further:  The distributions'
installation/upgrade software need to check that at least the user root
has a minimally working font configuration, no matter what the users
have left behind of configuration files that worked or did not work with
the previous os.  

This could be implemented using two tools, one that tests the basic
functionality of the font rendering libraries, and one that simply
produces a list of files that potentially influences the process.

The reason I post here is that some aspects of such tools are perhaps
much easier to maintain for those who know the font handling software
intimately. I guess that for fontconfig's maintainer it would be a
complete no-brainer to maintain a script that lists in order all files
looked at during the font matching process. Then it would be for the
distribution maintainer to rename all such files out of the way unless
they were strictly as distributed, until the basic functionality is

For the maintainers of the various distributions of the various free
os'es to investigate in turn what it takes to make at least some basic
aspects of the install/upgrade procedures really foolproof - and keep
that up to date as the zillion libraries change - that is error prone,
to say the least; and this kind of issues will in the long run
inevitably place an upper limit to the percieved quality of even the
major distributions - unless we find ways of addressing them.

I am not quite so sure about how to test the basic functionality.  The
end result depends on any number of layers of libraries, freetype,
pango, you name it. Kde would have its stack, fltk another...

Do you have any thoughts about this?

Enrique Pérez-Terrón
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