Using the font servers

By Paul Murphy, author of The Unix Guide to Defenestration

Setting up an X-terminal is both easy and a good idea. The best ones, say an NCD 900, provide high powered graphics in a large screen, zero noise, zero failures, environment. Hook one up to a Solaris machine in the data center and you've got the power of Sun with the reliability and convenience of your phone.

After conning several people into doing this and noting that they didn't follow through and make the machines their primary work environment, I started to wonder what the deal was and visited with one of the more recent recidivists to find out what had gone wrong. When he turned it on, I could see the problem as soon as the login prompt appeared. Small print on a little mauve square in the middle of the screen? When he logged in and gnome came up it looked like, well, suffice it to say that we both felt an urge to look for a little trip lever on the side of the monitor.

What he hadn't done, what none of them had done, was bring up the Solaris font server. The specifics for this vary with the make and software on the X-terminal, with several terminal makers offering their own replacements for solaris xfs. Bringing it up is straight forward (on Solaris it's started from /etc/inetd.conf by default, but you will want to configure it for different font sets) and makes a world of difference.

With it, that NCD display looks like a workstation with an elite3d and gnome gets that polished look only a high resolution device can give. Without it, well you can't flush a monitor, but you can want to.