Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Experiences compiling X11R7

Compiling and installing X11R7, 7.3, was a bit more rough than the X11 compiles I used to perform. I used the build script supplied with the source packages. When it finished, apparently successfully, there were two problems whose solutions were not obvious.

First of all, OpenGL worked on my NVidia box, but not my ATI laptop.

Second, my Chinese fonts for traditional characters in Emacs looked different, much worse. The simplified Chinese characters still looked fine.

OK, what were the problems, and how did I fix them. First of all, the OpenGL issue. I compiled X11 the same way on both computers, why did OpenGL not work on the ATI laptop? Well, both NVidia and ATI ship closed-source binary blobs with support libraries. The difference is that NVidia supplies its own, while ATI uses the one from So, somehow I was failing to compile and install the OpenGL stuff. This didn't matter for the NVidia case, because it supplied all of the libraries required, but ATI doesn't do that. I had compiled and installed libMesa, so OpenGL should have worked. The OpenGL component is compiled as part of the xorg-server-1.4 package, and its configure script is executed by the build script that came with Aha, but in order to compile OpenGL, you have to provide the configure script with the path of the libMesa source tree. The build script doesn't do that, so OpenGL is not built. The solution is to interrupt the build at the point where the xorg-server-1.4 is about to be built (you can edit the script and put in an 'exit 0' there, for instance), then configure, build, and install the xorg-server-1.4 archive by hand, remembering to tell it where the mesa source tree is located. Once that completes, you can continue the build with the xorg script (I just commented out all entries above the server compile and resumed).

Now, the font problem. My TTF fonts are in /usr/share/fonts, and I verified that the files there were being read when I asked Emacs to display Chinese characters. So, it appeared as if the Chinese TTF fonts were the ones that were looking bad. A bit of research showed that Emacs does not, as of version 22.1.1, use scalable fonts. So I decided that it probably wasn't supposed to be using those TTF fonts. Now, I had kept my old X11R6 tree around in case of issues like this, so a quick comparison of directories showed that there were some Chinese PCF fonts in the old install that I had forgotten to copy to the new location. So, I copied these files into their location in the X11R7 tree, and Emacs was restored to its former behaviour with respect to the displaying of Chinese fonts. The fonts, by the way, are taipei15.pcf, taipei16.pcf, taipei24.pcf, taipei24k.pcf, and taipeil24.pcf.

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