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Re: Font problems w SuSE 7.3 / Partial Solution

<posted & mailed>


I have now found a more or less working solution to the font problems
arising when using Mathematica under SuSE 7.3.

The main issue is that X is installed in such a way that all possible
font encodings are activated for all fonts, e.g. Chinese big5 encoding
or Russian koi8-r encoding for "normal" western fonts such as Utopia
or Helvetica (take a look at the fonts.scale files in subdirectories of 
/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/).  This massively confuses Mathematica, which
does not have character encoding files for all these encodings (see

The KDE Font Installer (Settings / X) allows one to configure the X-fonts
such that only a single encoding is used, but this does not help, since
Mathematica doesn't start any longer if only 8859-1 encoding is available.
It might also impair international web-browsing on exotic sites.

The one "solution" I have found was to remove from 
/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/encodings and its subdirs all *.enc(.gz) files that did 
not have counterparts in the Mathematica CharacterEncoding directory.  I
then started the KDE Font Installer, chose advanced mode, touched all font
directories (right click) and "Applied".  In addition, I created a symbolic 
link ISO10646-1.m -> Unicode.m in 
mathematica/SystemFiles/CharacterEncodings, since 10646-1 is Unicode.

Things seem to work now: I still get error messages about koi8-r encoding 
missing in Mathematica, but that does not seem to affect the display of 
notebooks (koi9-r encoding is hardwired in X, so it cannot be deactivated 
by deleting an encoding file.

But this is a temporary solution at best.  Since providing a large set
of character encodings with a Linux systems seems smart (so people can surf 
anywhere in the world and write texts in whatever language they like), in 
my opinion Mathematica should become better at handling font encodings it 
does not know about; or to check with the X server whether it has any given 
font available in an encoding Mathematica knows.


Dr. Hans Ekkehard Plesser             Tel.  :           +47 6494 8832
Physics Section / ITF                 Fax   :           +47 6494 8810
Agricultural University of Norway     e-mail: hans.plesser at
N-1432 Ås, Norway                     WWW   :

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