Rant about "could not open default font"

Paulo Cesar Pereira de Andrade pcpa at mandriva.com.br
Tue May 20 09:49:58 PDT 2008

Matthieu Herrb wrote:
> Tiago Vignatti wrote:
>> TitCouille Mandriva escreveu:

  Sorry don't have original email anymore, so replying to one with
full quote...

>>> Hello,
>>> 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 :
  What version of Mandriva are you installing?

>>> 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.
  mkfontdir just uses the standard Unix response of "no news is good news".
If it doesn't say anything, it is because it worked correctly.

  I suggest you open a bug report at http://qa.mandriva.com
  I don't know of any related bug reports, so I believe this may
have happened under some special condition, so a bug report would
be very useful.

>> Just set --enable-builtin-font to configure.
>> (Any complains to put this as default to X compilation?)
> Yes. The problems described (except for mkfontdir error reporting) are 
> problems with the X packages in specific distributions, not a problem of 
> the default configuration shipped by X.Org.
> If people ship distributions with missing/corrupted fonts.dir, use 
  I don't know of any system that doesn't run mkfontdir/fc-cache/whatever
after installing/removing files.

> complicated paths setups with symplings all over the place or change the 
> default font path to only include xfs and don't make their X server 
> package explicitely depend on xfs, then yes they should fix it.
> The default X.Org setup doen't do such things so there's imho no need to 
>   embed the default font there.


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