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Bug#253806: xvfb: Xvfb fails to start: could not open default font 'fixed'

retitle 253806 xfree86: [FAQ] add more troubleshooting advice for the 'could not open default font' question
reassign 253806 xfree86
tag 235806 =

On Wed, Jun 30, 2004 at 09:28:41AM +0200, Floris Kraak wrote:
> Branden Robinson wrote:
> >1) What does "dpkg -s xfonts-base" say?
> Not sure since we fixed this particular problem since then (see 2)
> However, it was a) installed, b) not broken, and c) the same version as 
> what was current in the repository at the time. I know this for sure.


> >2) If you reinstall xfonts-base, does the problem go away?
> Yes. Though a normal reinstall wasn't enough, but purging it and 
> re-installing it then did work.

That suggests to me that a conffile was involved.
/etc/X11/fonts/misc/xfonts-base.alias, for example, is a conffile.

If something stomped on that file such that the "fixed" line went

$ grep '\<fixed\>' /etc/X11/fonts/misc/xfonts-base.alias | head -n 1
fixed        -misc-fixed-medium-r-semicondensed--13-120-75-75-c-60-iso8859-1

...then that would definitely cause your problem.

> >3) Are any other packages shipping files in
> >   /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc?
> >     dpkg -S usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc
> root@hq:~# dpkg -S usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc | cut -d : -f 1 | sort -u
> xfonts-base
> xfonts-base, xfonts-bolkhov-cp1251-misc
> Not sure what those bolkhov fonts are doing there. We sure as hell don't 
> need them ..

Might want to make sure xfonts-bolkhov*'s maintainer scripts aren't
doing anything evil...

> >4) Is anything other than an official Debian package putting stuff in
> >   /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc?
> No.
> This one took us some time to figure out and debug, especially since xvfb 
> was not really helpful in telling us what was going wrong and why. Since 
> reinstalling xfonts-base did help (but it needed a purge!) maybe it's a 
> good idea to put the purge-and-reinstall option in the documentation or 
> something..

I apologize for the difficulty you experienced.

Looks like I need to expand the answer to the following FAQ entry:


I am therefore re-purposing this bug to that end, since your problem is

G. Branden Robinson                |    If you make people think they're
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    thinking, they'll love you; but if
branden@debian.org                 |    you really make them think, they'll
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    hate you.            -- Don Marquis

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