Re: Font size problem #2

rhn rhn at
Sat Nov 15 10:23:52 CET 2008

Od: Michael Mather <Michael.Mather at>

> So the default font size has been set (somewhere, I wish I knew where) to 5.
This is set in a gtk configuration file (I don't remember where, but probably in /etc/). You can find my post from a few months back asking the same question.
> This has the right effect on the character size, but I claim it is the wrong 
> way to solve the problem.
> This becomes apparent when you "ssh -Y" into the FR from a desktop computer. 
> The default font then appears unreadably small.
This is because GUI toolkit you're using doesn't care of the "right" font size for the X server it connects to.
> The correct solution is to decide that "dpi" means "pixels per apparent inch." 
> Because we look at the FR from much closer than we do a desktop screen, the 
> dpi that we set in /etc/X11/xorg.conf should be somewhat less than the 
> physical pixels per inch.
> I estimate that I see a desktop screen from about 25 inches, and the FR from 
> about 10 inches. So the FR should be set to about 110 dpi. This would have 
> about the same effect as using a font size of 5 points.
> Michael

I believe introducing the "apparent" factor would create a huge mess instead of solving it. There would be no reliable way to tell how much is an inch - for example displaying a ruler with correct scale would be impossible. The strength of DPI is its ability of being measured.
I have another solution of the problem - the toolkits of the clients asking the server about the preferred font size similar way they ask it about the resolution.
I think it would not be possible or feasible to ask exactly the same way (does the X server expose preferred font size the same way as DPI?).
The client-side apps might contact the corresponding server-side toolkit, which they already do (I noticed irregularities while connecting to a host with an old version of GTK). This would, however, require patches to the toolkits...


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