MKFONTDIR(1) General Commands Manual MKFONTDIR(1)
mkfontdir – create an index of X font files in a directory
mkfontdir [-n] [-x suffix] [-r] [-p prefix] [-e encoding-directory-
name] … [–] [directory-name … ]
For each directory argument, mkfontdir reads all of the font files in
the directory searching for properties named “FONT”, or (failing that)
the name of the file stripped of its suffix. These are converted to
lower case and used as font names, and, along with the name of the font
file, are written out to the file “fonts.dir” in the directory. The X
server and font server use “fonts.dir” to find font files.
The kinds of font files read by mkfontdir depend on configuration
parameters, but typically include PCF (suffix “.pcf”), SNF (suffix
“.snf”) and BDF (suffix “.bdf”). If a font exists in multiple formats,
mkfontdir will first choose PCF, then SNF and finally BDF.
The first line of fonts.dir gives the number of fonts in the file. The
remaining lines list the fonts themselves, one per line, in two fields.
First is the name of the font file, followed by a space and the name of
Because scalable font files do not usually include the X font name, the
file “fonts.scale” can be used to name the scalable fonts in the direc‐
tory. The fonts listed in it are copied to fonts.dir by mkfontdir.
“fonts.scale” has the same format as the “fonts.dir” file, and can be
created with the mkfontscale program.
FONT NAME ALIASES
The file “fonts.alias”, which can be put in any directory of the font-
path, is used to map new names to existing fonts, and should be edited
by hand. The format is two white-space separated columns, the first
containing aliases and the second containing font-name patterns. Lines
beginning with “!” are comment lines and are ignored.
If neither the alias nor the value specifies the size fields of the
font name, this is a scalable alias. A font name of any size that
matches this alias will be mapped to the same size of the font that the
alias resolves to.
When a font alias is used, the name it references is searched for in
the normal manner, looking through each font directory in turn. This
means that the aliases need not mention fonts in the same directory as
the alias file.
To embed white space in either name, simply enclose it in double-quote
marks; to embed double-quote marks (or any other character), precede
them with back-slash:
“magic-alias with spaces” “\”font name\” with quotes”
If the string “FILE_NAMES_ALIASES” stands alone on a line, each file-
name in the directory (stripped of its suffix) will be used as an alias
for that font.
The option -e can be used to specify a directory with encoding files.
Every such directory is scanned for encoding files, the list of which
is then written to an “encodings.dir” file in every font directory.
The “encodings.dir” file is used by the server to find encoding infor‐
The “encodings.dir” file has the same format as “fonts.dir”. It maps
encoding names (strings of the form CHARSET_REGISTRY-CHARSET_ENCODING )
to encoding file names.
The following options are supported:
-e Specify a directory containing encoding files. The -e option
may be specified multiple times, and all the specified directo‐
ries will be read. The order of the entries is significant, as
encodings found in earlier directories override those in later
ones; encoding files in the same directory are discriminated by
preferring compressed versions.
-n do not scan for fonts, do not write font directory files. This
option is useful when generating encoding directories only.
-p Specify a prefix that is prepended to the encoding file path
names when they are written to the “encodings.dir” file. The
prefix is prepended as-is. If a `/’ is required between the
prefix and the path names, it must be supplied explicitly as
part of the prefix.
-r Keep non-absolute encoding directories in their relative form
when writing the “encodings.dir” file. The default is to con‐
vert relative encoding directories to absolute directories by
prepending the current directory. The positioning of this
options is significant, as this option only applies to subse‐
quent -e options.
Ignore fonts files of type suffix.
— End options.
fonts.dir List of fonts in the directory and the files they are
stored in. Created by mkfontdir. Read by the X server
and font server each time the font path is set (see
fonts.scale List of scalable fonts in the directory. Contents are
copied to fonts.dir by mkfontdir. Can be created with
fonts.alias List of font name aliases. Read by the X server and
font server each time the font path is set (see
encodings.dir List of known encodings and the files they are stored
in. Created by mkfontdir. Read by the X server and
font server each time a font with an unknown charset is
X Version 11 mkfontdir 1.0.7 MKFONTDIR(1)