There are two mechanisms for fonts in X land: server-side and client-side.
The traditional way to render fonts is for the client to tell the server “render
foo at position (x,y) in font F” (where a font specification includes a face, size, encoding and other attributes). Either the X server itself, or a specialized program called a font server, opens the font file to build the description of each glyph. The fonts can be bitmap or vector fonts, but the vector fonts are converted to bitmaps before rendering.
Most modern programs use client-side font rendering, often through xft and fontconfig. A new mechanism was needed because the server-side font rendering didn't support anti-aliasing.
Outside X (i.e. on a VGA console), there are VGA fonts, which are bitmap fonts of specific sizes. But compared to X11, no one uses the VGA console, so not much effort is spent on them.
In practice, you'll want to configure fonts in two ways:
- For older-style programs: the font directories are listed via
FontPath directives in
xorg.conf and can be manipulated with
xset fp commands by the user running X. If you install new fonts, you may need to run
- For newer-style programs, including all Gtk (Gnome, etc.) and Qt (KDE, etc.) programs: fonts are in the directories indicated by
<dir> directives in
~/.fonts.conf and a few other places. See the fontconfig documentation for more information. If you install new fonts, you may need to run