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Photon font server


phfont [-A] [-D directory] [-d directory]
       [-E rule] [-e file] [-I]
       [-i file] [-L] [-l list]
       [-N number] [-n name]
       [-U family] [-u file] [-X]


Force all text bitmaps to be anti-aliased wherever possible. Only scalable fonts can be anti-aliased.
-D directory
Specify the configuration directory that holds the fontdir, fontext, fontmap, and fontopt files. The default is /usr/photon/font_repository.
-d directory
Specify the font directory. All configuration files and font files are assumed to be in this directory. The default is /usr/photon/font_repository.
-E rule
Specify the extension/dropout rule to use. The fontext file may contain a number of different extension rules (e.g. language rules that search the Chinese, Japanese, or Korean character set) of which only one is active. By default, the first "+" rule in the fontext file is used.
-e file
Specify the font extension/dropout file. This file contains rules that extend a base output character set to include multiple font files (e.g. to add special symbols or languages other than English). The default file is fontext.
Use strict international mapping rules.
-i file
Specify the font index file. This file contains header information of every known/usable font in the system and allows the font server to quickly perform font mappings and character dropouts without accessing the disk. The default file is fontdir.
Deny local metrics loading.
-l list
Specify a list of fonts to preload and lock into cache. You can use this to ensure fast access to common fonts. The list is formatted as a comma-separated list of font names. For example:

Default is none.

Disable the display of missing-character symbols. By default, whenever a character is rendered for which no definition can be found, the font server displays an empty rectangle.
-N number
Specify the number of times the font manager tries to attach a device before exiting.

Default is 15.

-n name
Specify the name to register the font server with. By default the value of the PHFONT environment variable is used; if this isn't set, the prefix /dev/phfont is used.
-U family
Specify the font family to use for unknown fonts. Whenever a named font doesn't exist and can't be resolved by explicit mapping entries, this default font family is used. By default the ? entry in the fontmap file is used.
-u file
Specify the unknown font-mapping table file. This file creates font synonyms (or virtual fonts) and configuration rules for augmenting bitmap fonts with scalable fonts. The default file is fontmap.
Prevent the font server from terminating after the last client disconnects. The default is for the font server to exit once all clients have terminated.

Note: Options can be passed through the -F option to io-graphics when not running an external font server. The format is slightly different, based on the getsubopt() format. For example:
io-graphics -F"-d=/usr/photon/font_repository,-A,-N=10" ...

See PfSetOptionsDll() for more information.


The phfont utility provides all font services to Photon applications and drivers. This includes the calculation of text extents and metrics and the generation of bitmaps representing character strings. It also maintains a central cache of font metric and bitmap data.

The phfont utility loads the phfont.so DLL to provide font rendering services. The phfont.so loads DLLs located in /lib/dll/font which provide rendering services for specific font types, such as PHF, TTF, TTC, PFR, Stroke, etc.

If a particular type of rendering is not desired, you can remove the specific dll. To determine which services are provided by each DLL, use the use dll_name command, which displays the usage message for that particular DLL. If an external font server is not started, io-graphics attempts to invoke a font server instance.

Note: For optimum performance, it is best to run an external fontserver. Because the graphics driver still invokes a font library instance, there is no negative performance effect in using the external fontserver. Since the graphics driver runs at a priority higher than other applications, it processes the draw stream without being interrupted by outside applications requesting font services.

However, if you are more concerned about memory footprint, don't run an external font server, though there is the potential of some graphic processing slow down. Any increased memory footprint is mostly data, since both instances share common code libraries.


Start the server:

phfont -d /usr/photon/font_repository &

Note: Normally the font server is started from the ph script.


The rendering DLLs used by the font server are located in /lib/dll/font/*.dll. These files support rendering for at least these font types:

Use the use command to view the font types supported by a DLL.

Other files used by phfont include:

Caution: Don't edit these files by hand! Use the graphical tool fontadmin to configure the phfont files.

Directory of known fonts. Each entry in this file contains information such as the name and type of the font, its size and style, a textual description of the font family, and the range of characters defined within the font. To be available to an application, at least one font must be defined in this configuration file. Entries in this file are static, they can't be loaded dynamically.
A set of extension rules to handle character dropouts (missing characters).
This file contains a dynamic list of fonts. The ph script regenerates this file if it does not exist or if the contents of the font_repository have changed. Each entry in the font-traplist file contains information such as the name and type of the font, its size and style, a textual description of the font family, and the range of characters defined within the font. You may uninstall fonts specified in this file by deleting entries in /etc/system/config/font-traplist.
A set of mapping rules. There are two types:
Deprecated, no longer used.
Contains the command-line options, one option per line. Options are located under the appropriate schema section. For example, phfont-specific options are located in the [io-font] section. Options targeted towards a specific rendering DLL are divided into subsections: boolean, numeral, string. They are formatted as follows:
    [dll id-subsection-schema]

The font server may run in one of two modes: server mode, or private client DLL mode. In order to differentiate options between the two, by default there is a "dll" schema. If the font server is running in server mode, it searches for options under [dll id-subsection], but if the font server is running in client DLL mode, it searchs for options under [dll id-subsection-dll]. If no options are specified, the default values are used.

For internal use only. Entries in this file override the descriptive name (e.g. "Helvetica") for a particular font stem ("helv").

Environment variables:

The default name with which to register the font server.

See also:

bdftophf2, fontadmin, mkfontdir

Using the Photon microGUI and Configuring Your Environment in the Neutrino User's Guide

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