Rant about "could not open default font"

TitCouille Mandriva titcouille.mandriva at gmail.com
Mon May 19 04:02:23 PDT 2008


I just want to rant about the "could not open default font 'fixed'",
the "fatal error" that made reinstall 2 times Mandriva Linux. I'm
probably just an idiot, for not being to configure things correctly,
but I read that it is "by far the most popular Frequently Asked
Question" so maybe there's a reason to that. The error is described in
http://www.x.org/wiki/FAQErrorMessages but that page was not as
usefully as it should be. There's many things described in there that
differ from what I see on my system :

1/ FAQ says that the log filename in "/var/log/Xorg.0.log" but mine is
"Xorg.9.log". What is the difference?

2/ FAQ says that the font location is specified through FontPath
lines. However, I have no such lines in my "/usr/share/X11/xorg.conf".
In fact, I have no Files section at all in "xorg.conf". Reading my
log, I noticed that the fonts are loaded through a catalogue with
dirname "fontpath.d". Why is this not mentioned in the FAQ?

First, I found out that the catalogue dirname is specified in
"/usr/share/X11/fs/config", where there's a line :

catalogue = catalogue:/usr/share/fonts/fontpath.d

However, when I went to that directory, I didn't understand anything:
how it works, what are the weird "pri=50", etc.

Why not use a simple "FixedFont=exact_font_filepath" line? From the
little I understood, Xorg currently follows 100 of different symbolic
links and configuration lines to reach the real font filename. The
problem is that when one of those links or lines breaks, it seems
impossible for the average user to recover.

3/ I noticed in my log the following warning :

`fonts.dir' not found (or not valid) in "/usr/share/fonts/drakfont".
	Entry deleted from font path.
	(Run 'mkfontdir' on "/usr/share/fonts/drakfont").

But I have to say the "mkfontdir" never outputs any message, Just a
simple "Successful" message would be enough for me. I type "mkfontdir
/usr/share/fonts/drakfont", no output. I type "mkfontdir --help", no
output. I type "mkfontdir", without arguments, in the needed
directory, no output. Of course, impossible to understand how
"mkfontdir" works, what it changes to the twisted system of links and
configuration lines.

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