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mkfontscale - create an index of scalable font files for X


mkfontscale [ -b ] [ -s ] [ -o filename ] [ -x suffix ] [ -a encoding ] ... [ -f fuzz ] [ -l ] [ -e directory ] [ -p prefix ] [ -r prefix ] [ -n prefix ] [ -u | -U ] [ -v ] [ -- ] [ directory ] ...


For each directory argument, mkfontscale reads all of the scalable font files in the directory. For every font file found, an X11 font name (XLFD) is generated, and is written together with the file name to a file fonts.scale in the directory.

The resulting fonts.scale file should be checked and possibly manually edited before being used as input for creating a fonts.dir file.

Project Xming note: mkfontdir is not needed to create fonts.dir files (its just an 'exec' wrapper to mkfontscale -b -s -l in Linux); just directly use mkfontscale -b -s -l from the Windows Command Prompt...
For each directory argument, mkfontscale -b -s -l 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 uses fonts.dir to find font files.

The kinds of font files read by mkfontscale -b -s -l depend on configuration parameters, but typically include PCF (suffix ".pcf"), SNF (suffix ".snf") and BDF (suffix ".bdf"). If a font exists in multiple formats, mkfontscale -b -s -l 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 the font.

Scalable fonts

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 directory. The fonts listed in it are copied to fonts.dir by mkfontscale -b -s -l. fonts.scale has the same format as the fonts.dir file.

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"
regular-alias                fixed

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.

Encoding files

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 information.

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.


read bitmap fonts. By default, bitmap fonts are ignored.
ignore scalable fonts. By default, scalable fonts are read. If -b is set, this flag has the side effect of enabling the reading of fonts.scale files.
-o filename
send program output to filename; default is fonts.scale if bitmap fonts are not being read, and fonts.dir if they are. If filename is relative, it is created in the directory being processed. If it is the special value -, output is written to standard output.
-x suffix
exclude all files with the specified suffix.
-a encoding
add encoding to the list of encodings searched for.
-f fuzz
set the fraction of characters that may be missing in large encodings to fuzz percent. Defaults to 2%.
Write fonts.dir files suitable for implementations that cannot re-encode legacy fonts (BDF and PCF). By default, it is assumed that the implementation can re-encode Unicode-encoded legacy fonts.
specifies 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.
Specifies a prefix that is prepended to the encoding file path names when they are written to the encodings.dir file. The prefix is prepended literally: if a ‘/’ is required between the prefix and the path names, it must be supplied explicitly as part of the prefix.
Keep non-absolute encoding directories in their relative form when writing the encodings.dir file. The default is to convert relative encoding directories to absolute directories by prepending the current directory. The positioning of this options is significant, as this option only applies to subsequent -e options.
do not scan for fonts, do not write font directory files. This option is useful when generating encoding directories only.
-u, -U
disable (-u) or enable (-U) indexing of ISO 10646:1 font encodings (default: enabled).
print program version and exit.
end of options.


List of fonts in the directory and the files they are stored in. Read by the X server each time the font path is set (see xset).
List of scalable fonts in the directory.
List of font name aliases. Read by the X server each time the font path is set (see xset).
List of known encodings and the files they are stored in. Read by the X server each time a font with an unknown charset is opened.

See also

Fonts, Xserver, xset


Mkfontscale will overwrite any fonts.scale file even if it has been hand-edited.

mkfontscale -b -s -l is equivalent to mkfontdir and used to create a fonts.dir file from fonts.scale. Indeed mkfontdir is just a Unix shell exec wrapper to perform this and is not supplied in Project Xming.


The version of mkfontscale included in this X.Org Foundation release was originally written by Juliusz Chroboczek (jch<at>freedesktop<dot>org) for the XFree86 project. The functionality of this program was inspired by the ttmkfdir utility by Joerg Pommnitz.

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