Metric Information

Patrick Gundlach
Fri, 26 Jul 2002 00:30:35 +0200

Lars Hellström  <> writes:

Good morning,

> Thanks, but I was rather thinking about: what files does the windowing
> system get this information from, 

This, I cannot tell you. On my system probably the afm/pfb files, but
there are many different font servers out there, each one might use a
different file. Many use type1, some truetype (?).

> how does it know where to find them (is
> there something like a, 

There is a "Font Path" for X11. It is a set of directories where the
x11 font server can find type1 fonts (and
perhaps other). In each of those directories there is a file called
"fonts.dir" which has entries like:

Helvetica-Bold.pfa -adobe-helvetica-bold-r-normal--0-0-0-0-p-0-iso8859-1

(filename - x11 name)

This path can be configured as a system-wide default and during
run-time. IIRC The fonts do not even have to reside on the same system
as the x11 server (the program that manages the display, keybard,

In an application you can request a font like "fixed" or "9x15" or

> and where are the files typically located? 

This heavily depends on the underlying operating system. On my linux
box, there are some system fonts beneath
/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts.... but on solaris (and others) you will
probably find different locations.

> The (mostly) C programmers interfaces are, for better and worse,
> usually of no interest to us TeX-font-hackers (unless we're writing
> a DVI previewer or driver).

Or, if you wish to use system specific fonts without installing them
(in the TeX sense). Just create the tfm on the fly with the info from
the os/windowing system. But I do not dare to think about encoding
issues... Or even ligatures...

I'll fade into the darkness