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Changing your foint of view

Today, almost all unix users work in workstations running some kind of X Windowing system. and XFree86 are the most common ones, with being used the most since the XFree86? License changes last year.

Inside this whole group of people working with X windowing systems, I have found two different kind of people, the ones who simply use default desktops (it is not a matter if it is Gnome, KDE, enlightenment, Xfce or whatever) and the others whom like to tune and define their desktops until the last detail. I personally include myself in the second group, I feel myself more comfortable in a personalized desktop (you only have to take a look over some screenshots to figure what I'm talking about). A nice background and some transparent terminals do almost all the work for me.

I usually work with enlightenment as my window manager and Eterm as my X terminal, and one of the last properties of my desktop I have changed is the font in my terminal consoles. In the case of Eterm, you can download some nice themes from, but other way to do it is downloading some fonts in .pcf format and use them with your usual terminal configuration. Some fonts could be download from here:

Once we have the fonts, it is easy to get them installed on the system, just copy them to the right place and run mkfontdir and xset and you are done. Let's see it with an example, this one had been performed on a OpenBSD -current system with, enlightenment 0.16.6 and Eterm 0.8.10, but it is suitable for almost all BSD flavours and Linux distributions, as I have tested it in FreeBSD? and Slackware Linux without problems.

# ls *.pcf
nexus.pcf    outcast.pcf  smooth.pcf
# cp *.pcf /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/
# mkfontdir /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc
$ xset fp rehash

Note that the step where we copy the files into /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/ and run mkfontdir must be done as root, but xset must be called by the user that is using the X session. After that, we can use xlsfonts to see the fonts we have installed on the system. The output could be a little bit longer than the three fonts we have installed, because of the fonts the system has installed by default, but that ones must be at the bottom of the list:

$ xlsfonts
[ strip ]

And what about using them? That is the easy part. In the case of Eterm, we can supply up to four different fonts that will be used when we press the sequence shift + + (one +, not two) or shift + -. When we press any of those combos Eterm changes the font up and down, the main purpose for that is to have bigger and smaller fonts from 1 to 4, and get the size bigger or smaller as you need, so if you want to set all the different fonts take care of that, other way you could get the same font size allways, which is a little bit stupid (in my oppinion). I will change only the default font to smooth. To do that, I only have to call Eterm with the --font argument as:

$ Eterm --font smooth

The result is quite cute, see a normal Eterm terminal and another one with the smooth font enabled:

Eterm with normal font:

Eterm with smooth font: