Setup and Use of a Fontserver


About this document
The font problem
Setting up the Fontserver
Accessing the Fontserver

About this document

This document discusses why a Fontserver is needed and the software and procedures required to set up the Fontserver with AIX Version 4.x systems. Also discussed are the different methods of accessing a Fontserver on the various types of Xservers.

The font problem

Fonts are normally supplied by your local Xserver, that is, the graphical computer console, Xstation, or PC with a Xemulator. When your X applications (X clients) are being run off a remote host, any special fonts they need are unavailable for your use, so you may have font problems.

Sometimes a default font will be used if the requested font is not available, or the application may die and core dump depending on its design. The Fontserver is the method developed to overcome this problem. With the Fontserver, all the fonts on the remote host system are available to your local Xserver, whether it is another system with a graphical console, Xstation or a PC running a Xemulator. This makes font administration easier, as you can provide all your remote users with all the fonts they will need. Therefore, font access is more reliable and less dependent on the individual machines to provide the needed fonts.

Setting up the Fontserver

  1. Installing the Fontserver

    The AIX Fontserver Software must be installed, in addition to the individual font filesets needed. With AIX 4.x the following filesets must be installed:


    Use the command:

               lslpp -l [filesetname]
    to determine if the above filesets are installed on your system. These filesets must be in the applied or committed state.

  2. Checking if the Fontserver is already running

    If the Fontserver is running on the host, skip the next five sections and go to the "Accessing the Fontserver" section. To check this, issue the following command:

                  AIX 4.2.x and lower     "ps -ef | grep fs"
                  AIX 4.3.x               "ps -ef | grep xfs"

    For AIX Version 4.2.x and lower, this shows the process as either /usr/bin/X11/fs, /usr/lpp/X11/bin/fs, or fs, depending on how it was started.

    For AIX Version 4.3.x the process is identified as /usr/bin/X11/xfs or xfs.
    If the Fontserver is running, go to the "Accessing the Fontserver" section.

  3. Configuring the Fontserver

    To configure the Fontserver, run:

                  AIX 4.2.x and lower     "/usr/lpp/X11/bin/fsconf"
                  AIX 4.3.x               "/usr/lpp/X11/bin/xfsconf"

    This command configures the Fontserver to run automatically at boot and needs to be done only once. It modifies the /etc/rc.tcpip and /etc/services startup files to use the System Resource Controller (SRC) for orderly control.

  4. Starting the Fontserver

    To start the Fontserver once it has been configured, enter the following:

                  AIX 4.2.x and lower     "startsrc -s fs"
                  AIX 4.3.x               "startsrc -s xfs"

    If there is a problem, the Fontserver will NOT start up and will display a "Fatal" server error message. If you do not see an error message, go to "Accessing the Fontserver" section.

    If you need to stop the Fontserver, run:

                  AIX 4.2.x and lower     "stopsrc -s fs"
                  AIX 4.3.x               "stopsrc -s xfs"
  5. Troubleshooting a Fontserver that does not start

    The Fontserver is controlled by the /usr/lib/X11/fs/config file. The catalog statement in this file controls the font path. If any font directory does not exist or does not have a valid fonts.dir file, you will get an error pinpointing the element (directory, numbered 0,1,2,...) when you try to start up the Fontserver. To fix this problem, remove that directory from the catalog statement (if it does not exist).

    NOTE: Be very careful when editing this file. Make sure there are no extra spaces in the catalog statement. It is only one line that wraps around to multiple lines.

    If the directory does exist and you get an error, the fonts.dir (index file) in that font directory may not be valid. Recreate it by changing to that directory and running the following command:


    In some special cases you may need to add a font directory to the catalog statement for software that installs fonts to a non-standard AIX location for a font directory.

For Version 4.3, an apar has been released for problems with the fontserver core dumping. IX87967 updates X11.fnt.FontServer to Download or order this apar if the fontserver core dumps.

Accessing the Fontserver

  1. Adding the address of the Fontserver

    For IBM Xstations 140, 150, and 160s, there is a local font configuration change under advanced setup for a Fontserver. Add the IP address and port where the Fontserver is running.

    Some Xemulators for PCs have a Fontserver setup. The xset command can also be used on some Xemulators to add the address of the Fontserver to your font path. You can do it from the command line for testing or add it to your .profile to be used on every login.

    For AIX 4.2.x and lower:

                  xset +fp tcp/

    For AIX Version 4.3 the Fontserver port is changed to 7100:

                  xset +fp tcp/ is the IP address of the machine running the Fontserver. Do not use the hostname with the xset command unless a DOMAIN Name Server is used in the network configuration. If in doubt, use the IP address.

    The ":7500" is the port used by the Fontserver at AIX Versions 4.2.x and lower. At 4.3, the ":7100" port is used. For some non-AIX Operating Systems port 7500 or 7100 is being used, check the /etc/services file. It should contain the following:

    AIX 4.2.x and lower:

                  fontserver     7500/tcp        fs # X11R5 font server

    AIX 4.3.x

                  fontserver     7100/tcp       xfs # X11R6 font server
  2. Checking the font path

    Check the font path by executing the following command:

                   xset -q

    You should see the following added to the font path:

  3. Checking if a Fontserver is available

    Execute the following command:

                   fsinfo -server [hostname]:7500
    where hostname is the name or IP address of the machine running the Fontserver.

    NOTE: This command is not available at AIX Version 4.3.x.

  4. Setting Up NCD Xstations

    To set up NCD Xstations to use the AIX Fontserver, change the /usr/lib/X11/ncd/configs/ncd_std configuration file, Fontserver line from port 7000 to 7500 at AIX 4.2.x and lower, and to port 7100 at 4.3.x.

    For the above example, the font path stanza should appear as follows:

    AIX 4.2.x and lower

                   xserver-default-font-path = {
                           { "built-ins" }
                           { "tcp/" }

    AIX 4.3.x

                  xserver-default-font-path = {
                     { "built-ins" }
                     { "tcp/ }

[ Doc Ref: 90605202814660     Publish Date: Oct. 16, 2000     4FAX Ref: 7454 ]