Red Hat Linux uses xfs (X Font Server) to provide fonts to the XFree86 server and the X client applications that connect to it. While it is possible to not use xfs and place the paths to font directories in your XF86Config and XF86Config-4 configuration files, xfs has several advantages:

The XFree86 configuration files know whether to use xfs or hard coded font paths because of the FontPath setting in their Files sections. By default, the FontPath is set to unix/:7100. This tells the XFree86 server to connect to port 7100 using an inner-machine communication link. The xfs server listening on this port will respond with font information when queried by the XFree86 server.

The xfs service must be running when X is started. If it is not, you will be returned to a command prompt with an error similar to failed to set default font path 'unix/:7100'. Check to see if xfs is running using the ps aux | grep xfs command. By default, xfs is set to start in runlevels 2, 3, 4, and 5, covering all runlevels where you would run X. If xfs is not running on your system, you can start it as root using the /sbin/service xfs start command. Use the /usr/sbin/ntsysv, serviceconf, or /sbin/chkconfig utilities to force it to start at the correct runlevels. For more on configuring services for a particular runlevel, refer to the chapter titled Controlling Access to Services in the Official Red Hat Linux Customization Guide

xfs Configuration

The /etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs script starts the xfs server. Several options can be configured in the /etc/X11/fs/config file:

Adding Fonts

When using xfs, adding fonts to your system is rather straightforward. Use the chkfontpath --list command to see the font paths currently configured on your system. To add new fonts in a new directory, follow these instructions as the root user:

  1. Create a font directory, such as /usr/share/fonts and place the fonts inside that directory. Be sure to set the permissions correctly; it is only necessary that the files can be read, no other permissions are necessary.

  2. Type the chkfontpath --add <font-directory-path> command, where the <font-directory-path> is the full path to the directory holding the fonts. This will add this font path to the xfs configuration file.


    You must have a fonts.dir file in your new font directory for the chkfontpath command to work correctly. The creation of the fonts.dir file, as well as any other files used by xfs with these fonts, is beyond the scope of this document.

    Many font collections available for Linux include these files for you, it may not be necessary to create them by hand.

  3. Restart xfs using the /sbin/service xfs restart command. You will also need to restart your X session.

  4. Typing the chkfontpath --list command will show the new font path. Any fonts you added will be available for use.

The Red Hat Support website contains more information on this subject, see: for additional help documents.