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Pango is a library for layout and rendering of text, with an emphasis
on internationalization. Pango can be used anywhere that text layout
is needed; however, most of the work on Pango so far has been done using
the GTK+ widget toolkit as a test platform. Pango forms the core of text
and font handling for GTK+-2.x.
Pango is designed to be modular; the core Pango layout can be used
with different font backends. There are three basic backends, with
multiple options for rendering with each.
- Client side fonts using the FreeType and fontconfig libraries.
Rendering can be with with Cairo or Xft libraries, or directly
to an in-memory buffer with no additional libraries.
- Native fonts on Microsoft Windows using Uniscribe if available for
complex script handling. Rendering can be done via Cairo or
directly using the native Win32 API.
- Native fonts on MacOS X, rendering via Cairo.
The integration of Pango with Cairo (
provides a complete solution with high quality text handling
and graphics rendering.
Dynamically loaded modules then handle text layout for particular
combinations of script and font backend.
As well as the low level layout rendering routines, Pango includes
PangoLayout, a high level driver for laying out entire blocks of text,
and routines to assist in editing internationalized text.
For more information about Pango, see:
Pango depends on the GLib library; more information about GLib can
be found at
When using client side fonts, the fontconfig library
( to look up fonts. At least version 2.0.9
of the FreeType font handling library ( is
also required.
Cairo support depends on the Cairo library (
The Cairo backend is the preferred backend to use Pango with and is
subject of most of the development in the future. It has the
advantage that the same code can be used for display and printing.
We suggest using Pango with Cairo as described above, but you can also
do X-specific rendering using the Xft library. The Xft backend uses
version 2 of the Xft library to manage client side fonts. Version 2 of
Xft is available from You'll
need the libXft package, and possibly the libXrender and renderext
packages as well. You'll also need fontconfig (see below.)
Installation of Pango on Win32 is possible, but is not documented
here. See
- By default, Pango tries to build itself so that no explicit
dependency on Xft or FreeType will be introduced in apps that
link to Pango. This is to avoid compatibility problems with
changes in the Xft or FreeType API's or ABI's. Specifying
--enable-explicit-deps or --enable-static when configuring Pango
will defeat this and should be avoided if possible.
Most of the code of Pango is licensed under the terms of the
GNU Lesser Public License (LGPL) - see the file COPYING for details.
The OpenType code in pango/opentype is derived from the FreeType
project ( and is dual-licensed under the
GNU General Public License and the FreeType license. See see
pango/opentype/FT-license.txt for full details of the FreeType
Note that binary distributions of Pango must include a disclaimer
that the software is based in part of the work of the FreeType Team,
in the distribution documentation; for instance, by including this
README file.
Owen Taylor
Behdad Esfahbod
26 February 2007