Difference between revisions of "Fonts"

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To install fonts system-wide (available for all users), move the folder to the {{ic|/usr/share/fonts/}} directory.  To install fonts for only a single user, use {{ic|~/.fonts/}} instead.
To install fonts system-wide (available for all users), move the folder to the {{ic|/usr/share/fonts/}} directory.  To install fonts for only a single user, use {{ic|~/.fonts/}} instead.
Also you may need to update [[Xorg#Configuration|your Xorg configuration files]] (e.g. {{ic|/etc/X11/xorg.conf}} or {{ic|/etc/xorg.conf}}) with the new directory. Search for {{ic|FontPath}} to find the correct location within the files to add your new path. See [[#Fonts with X.Org]] for more detail.
For Xserver to load fonts directly (as opposed to the use of a ''font server'') the directory for your newly added font must be added with a FontPath entry.  This entry is located in the ''Files'' section [[Xorg#Configuration|of your Xorg configuration file]] (e.g. {{ic|/etc/X11/xorg.conf}} or {{ic|/etc/xorg.conf}}). See [[#Fonts with X.Org]] for more detail.
Then update the fontconfig font cache:
Then update the fontconfig font cache:

Revision as of 23:46, 26 September 2013

From Wikipedia:

A computer font (or font) is an electronic data file containing a set of glyphs, characters, or symbols such as dingbats.

Template:Article summary start Template:Article summary text Template:Article summary heading Template:Article summary text Template:Article summary heading Template:Article summary wiki: Font setup and beautification Template:Article summary wiki: Fonts specific to Sun's Java machine Template:Article summary wiki: Adding Microsoft fonts and mimicking Windows' font settings Template:Article summary end

Font formats

Most computer fonts used today are in either bitmap or outline data formats.

Bitmap fonts
Consist of a matrix of dots or pixels representing the image of each glyph in each face and size.
Outline or vector fonts
Use Bézier curves, drawing instructions and mathematical formulae to describe each glyph, which make the character outlines scalable to any size.

Common extensions

  • bdf and bdf.gz – bitmap fonts, bitmap distribution format and gzip compressed bdf
  • pcf and pcf.gz – bitmaps, portable compiled font and gzip compressed pcf
  • psf, psfu, psf.gz and psfu.gz – bitmaps, PC screen font, PC screen font Unicode and the gzipped versions (not compatible with X.Org)
  • pfa and pfb – outline fonts, PostScript font ASCII and PostScript font binary. PostScript fonts carry built-in printer instructions.
  • ttf – outline, TrueType font. Originally designed as a replacement for the PostScript fonts.
  • otf – outline, OpenType font. TrueType with PostScript typographic instructions.

For most purposes, the technical differences between TrueType and OpenType can be ignored, some fonts with a ttf extension are actually OpenType fonts.

Other formats

The typesetting application, TeX, and its companion font software, Metafont, render characters using their own methods. Some of the file extensions used for fonts by these two programs are *pk, *gf, mf and vf.

FontForge, a font editing application, can store fonts in its native text-based format, sfd, spline font database.

The SVG format also has its own font description method.


There are various methods for installing fonts.


Fonts and font collections in the enabled repositories can be installed using pacman. Available fonts may be found by using:

$ pacman -Ss font

Or to search for ttf fonts only:

$ pacman -Ss ttf

Some fonts like terminus-font are installed in /usr/share/fonts/local, which is not added to the font path by default. By adding the following lines to ~/.xinitrc, the fonts can be used in X11:

xset +fp /usr/share/fonts/local
xset fp rehash

In case the first command causes the following error

$ xset +fp /usr/share/fonts/local/
xset:  bad font path element (#0), possible causes are:
    Directory does not exist or has wrong permissions
    Directory missing fonts.dir
    Incorrect font server address or syntax

you'll have to run

cd /usr/share/fonts/local;mkfontdir

as root to fix it.

Creating a package

You should give pacman the ability to manage your fonts, which is done by creating an Arch package. These can also be shared with the community in the AUR. Here is an example of how to create a basic package. To learn more about building packages, read PKGBUILD.

depends=('fontconfig' 'xorg-font-utils')
pkgdesc="custom fonts"

package() {
  install -d "$pkgdir/usr/share/fonts/TTF"
  cp -dpr --no-preserve=ownership "$srcdir/$pkgname/"*.ttf "$pkgdir/usr/share/fonts/TTF/"

This PKGBUILD assumes the fonts are TrueType. An install file (ttf-fontname.install) will also need to be created to update the font cache:

post_install() {
  echo -n "Updating font cache... "
  fc-cache -fs >/dev/null
  mkfontscale /usr/share/fonts/TTF /usr/share/fonts/Type1
  mkfontdir /usr/share/fonts/TTF /usr/share/fonts/Type1
  echo "done"

post_upgrade() {

post_remove() {

For a more convenient package creation from ttf-fonts you can also use makefontpkgAUR from the AUR.

Manual installation

The recommended way of adding fonts that are not in the repositories to your system is described in #Creating a package. This gives pacman the ability to remove or update them at a later time. Fonts can alternately be installed manually as well.

To install fonts system-wide (available for all users), move the folder to the /usr/share/fonts/ directory. To install fonts for only a single user, use ~/.fonts/ instead.

For Xserver to load fonts directly (as opposed to the use of a font server) the directory for your newly added font must be added with a FontPath entry. This entry is located in the Files section of your Xorg configuration file (e.g. /etc/X11/xorg.conf or /etc/xorg.conf). See #Fonts with X.Org for more detail.

Then update the fontconfig font cache:

$ fc-cache -vf

Manual installation: advanced method

Manual installation and maintenance of your font resources may be especially useful if your collection is more specialized, e.g. if you use commercial fonts, if you use fonts in different formats, if you often install and remove font files, or if you just feel you need more control and better access than offered by the package manager. There are numerous benefits to such an approach:

  • You can avoid installation of multiple copies of the same family in different versions and formats (one of the most common reasons for rendering issues).
  • You can use multiple and non-standard physical sources of font files (e.g. an additional hard drive, a separate partition).
  • You can avoid relying on huge and cryptic local font sources which possibly contain 5 families you need and 55 you don't need (TeX Live & 09-texlive-fonts.conf, random font collections from the AUR, etc).
  • You can avoid rendering issues because your fontconfig settings were tuned to a different format but the one installed in your system.
  • You can quickly verify which families in which format(s) are present in the system and available for applications by visually inspecting the content of the main font directory (as a result, you don't need sophisticated and heavy-on-resources font management applications: gtk2fontsel and basic CLI tools like fc-query from fontconfig package will do the job even better and faster).
  • When you install or upgrade a single font, the same version will be available for all applications, including LaTeX related software.
  • If necessary, you can quickly enable / disable a particular family because you know where exactly it can be found (useful for debugging).
  • You don't need to worry about redundant /etc/fonts/conf.avail/nn-foo.conf fontconfig files, potentially conflicting with your rendering settings (especially when you are using a customized font configuration and patched libraries).
  • In the long run, you save time needed to resolve issues and eliminate conflicts caused by careless use of the package manager.

In practical terms, there are at least a few ways to achieve this, which, if necessary, can be adopted by any package manager. The one described below has proven to be very efficient and secure even with large font collections.

  • We are going to separate font source locations (e.g. /usr/share/fonts.avail: this is where our fonts will be stored) from a directory containing symbolic links to the families in use (/usr/share/fonts).
  • Each family is going to be located in a separate, clearly named subdirectory. The naming convention should be consistent and unambiguous, for instance:

This way the content of the source directory will look like this:

$ ls /usr/share/fonts.avail

  • We are not going to touch TeX Live font directories to avoid issues with LaTeX software. Instead, since we can use multiple locations, we will create symlinks in /usr/share/fonts, giving applications access to particular families:
# cd /usr/share/fonts
# ln -s ../fonts.avail/otf-heuristica .
# ln -s /opt/texlive/texmf-dist/fonts/truetype/public/opensans ttf-texlive-open.sans

The result:

$ ls /usr/share/fonts

ttf-liberation        -> ..fonts.avail/ttf-liberation
ttf-ms-arial          -> ..fonts.avail/ttf-ms-arial
otf-heuristica        -> ..fonts.avail/otf-heuristica
otf-texlive-tex.gyre  -> /opt/texlive/texmf-dist/fonts/opentype/public/tex-gyre
ttf-texlive-open.sans -> /opt/texlive/texmf-dist/fonts/truetype/public/opensans

Finally, you may want to run the usual:

# fc-cache && mkfontscale && mkfontdir

A similar approach can be found in TeX Live Wiki article, but it's way simpler and describes a per-user scenario rather than a global implementation.

Older applications

With older applications that do not support fontconfig (e.g. GTK+ 1.x applications, and xfontsel) the index will need to be created in the font directory:

$ mkfontscale
$ mkfontdir

Or to include more than one folder with one command:

$ for dir in /font/dir1/ /font/dir2/; do xset +fp $dir; done && xset fp rehash

At times the X server may fail to load the fonts directory and you will need to rescan all the fonts.dir files:

# xset +fp /usr/share/fonts/misc # Inform the X server of new directories
# xset fp rehash                # Forces a new rescan

To check that the font(s) is included:

$ xlsfonts | grep fontname

Pango Warnings

When Pango is in use on your system it will read from fontconfig to sort out where to source fonts.

(process:5741): Pango-WARNING **: failed to choose a font, expect ugly output. engine-type='PangoRenderFc', script='common'
(process:5741): Pango-WARNING **: failed to choose a font, expect ugly output. engine-type='PangoRenderFc', script='latin'

If you are seeing errors similar to this and/or seeing blocks instead of characters in your application then you need to add fonts and update the font cache. This example uses the ttf-liberation fonts to illustrate the solution and runs as root to enable them system-wide.

# pacman -S ttf-liberation
  -- output abbreviated, assumes installation succeeded -- 

# fc-cache -vfs
/usr/share/fonts: caching, new cache contents: 0 fonts, 3 dirs
/usr/share/fonts/TTF: caching, new cache contents: 16 fonts, 0 dirs
/usr/share/fonts/encodings: caching, new cache contents: 0 fonts, 1 dirs
/usr/share/fonts/encodings/large: caching, new cache contents: 0 fonts, 0 dirs
/usr/share/fonts/util: caching, new cache contents: 0 fonts, 0 dirs
/var/cache/fontconfig: cleaning cache directory   
fc-cache: succeeded

You can test for a default font being set like so:

# fc-match
LiberationMono-Regular.ttf: "Liberation Mono" "Regular"

Fonts with X.Org

In order for Xorg to find and use your newly installed fonts, you must add the font paths to /etc/X11/xorg.conf (another X.Org configuration file may work too).

Here is an example of the section that must be added to /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Add or remove paths based on your particular font requirements.

# Let X.Org know about the custom font directories
Section "Files"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/100dpi"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/75dpi"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/cantarell"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/cyrillic"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/encodings"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/local"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/misc"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/truetype"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/TTF"
    FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/util"

Console fonts

The virtual console uses the kernel built-in font and ASCII character set by default, but both can be easily changed.

A console font is limited to either 256 or 512 characters. Available fonts are saved in /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/ directory.

Keymaps, the connection between the key pressed and the character used by the computer, are found in the subdirectories of /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/.

Tango-inaccurate.pngThe factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.Tango-inaccurate.png

Reason: The above line is correct, but the rest of this section uses "keymap" instead of "character set", which is confusing. "keymap" is the value of KEYMAP in /etc/vconsole.conf, whereas "character set" is the value of FONT_MAP. (Discuss in Talk:Fonts#)

Previewing and testing

An organized library of images for previewing is available at http://alexandre.deverteuil.net/consolefonts/consolefonts.html.

Moreover, the user can use setfont to temporarily change the font and be able to consider its use as the default. The available glyphs, or letters in the font can also be viewed as a table with the command showconsolefont.

If the newly changed font is not suitable, a return to the default font is done by issuing the command setfont without any arguments. If the console display is totally unreadable, this command will still work—the user just types in setfont while "working blind."

Note that setfont only works on the console currently being used. Any other consoles, active or inactive, remain unaffected.


Change the font. This example is distinctive:

$ setfont /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/gr737b-9x16-medieval.psfu.gz

Or change the font to one with 512 glyphs and set the keymap to ISO 8859-5 using the -m option:

$ setfont /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/LatArCyrHeb-16.psfu.gz -m 8859-5

Then issue commands that send text to the display, perhaps view a manpage and try vi or nano, and view the table of glyphs with the command, showconsolefont.

Return to the default font with:

$ setfont

Changing the default font

To change the default font, the FONT= and FONT_MAP= settings in /etc/vconsole.conf (this file may need to be created) must be altered. Again, the fonts can be found in /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/ directory and keymaps can be found in the subdirectories of /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/.


For displaying characters such as Č, ž, đ, š or Ł, ę, ą, ś using the font lat2-16.psfu.gz:


It means that second part of ISO/IEC 8859 characters are used with size 16. You can change font size using other values like lat2-08...16. For the regions determined by 8859 specification, look at the Wikipedia. You can use a Terminus font which is recommended if you work a lot in console without X server. ter-216b for example is latin-2 part, size 16, bold. ter-216n is the same but normal weight. Terminus fonts have sizes up to 32.

Now, set the proper keymap, for lat2-16 it will be:


To use the specified font in early userspace, that is, early in the bootup process, add the consolefont hook to /etc/mkinitcpio.conf:

HOOKS="base udev autodetect modconf block filesystems keyboard fsck consolefont keymap"

Then rebuild the image:

# mkinitcpio -p linux
Note: The above steps must be repeated for each kernel if more than one kernel package is installed.

See Mkinitcpio#HOOKS for more information.

If the fonts seems to not change on boot, or change only temporarily, it is most likely that they got reset when graphics driver was initialized and console was switched to framebuffer. To avoid this, load your graphics driver earlier. See for example KMS#Early_KMS_start, [[1]] or other ways to setup your framebuffer before /etc/vconsole.conf gets applied.

Boot Error

If "Loading Console Font" fails at boot time, this is probably because you did not choose a valid font during your Arch Linux install.

To get rid of this message, simply empty the CONSOLEFONT variable in /etc/rc.conf. It will fallback on default font at boot.

Font packages

This is a selective list that includes many font packages from the AUR along with those in the official repositories. Fonts are tagged "Unicode" if they have wide Unicode support, see the project or Wikipedia pages for detail.

Github user Ternstor has created a python script that generates PNG images of all fonts in extra, community and the AUR so you can preview all the fonts below.


International users

Applications and browsers select and display fonts depending upon fontconfig preferences and available font glyph for Unicode text. To list installed fonts for a particular language, issue a command fc-list :lang="two letter language code". For instance, to list installed Arabic fonts or fonts supporting Arabic glyph:

$ fc-list :lang=ar | cut -d: -f1

To properly render fonts for multilingual websites like Wikipedia or this Arch Linux wiki, install these packages: ttf-freefont, ttf-arphic-uming, ttf-baekmuk

Arabic & Urdu


Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese

(Mainly) Chinese
  • ttf-twAUR - Kai and Song traditional Chinese font from the Ministry of Education of Taiwan (AUR).
  • wqy-microhei - A Sans-Serif style high quality CJKV outline font.
  • wqy-zenhei - Hei Ti Style (sans-serif) Chinese Outline font embedded with bitmapped Song Ti (also supporting Japanese (partial) and Korean characters).
  • ttf-arphic-ukai - Kaiti (brush stroke) Unicode font (enabling anti-aliasing is suggested)
  • ttf-arphic-uming - Mingti (printed) Unicode font
  • opendesktop-fonts - New Sung font, previously is ttf-fireflysung package
  • wqy-bitmapfont - Bitmapped Song Ti (serif) Chinese font
  • ttf-hannom - Chinese and Vietnamese TrueType font
  • otf-ipafont - Formal style Japanese Gothic (sans-serif) and Mincho (serif) fonts set; one of the highest quality open source font. Default of openSUSE-ja.
  • ttf-vlgothicAUR - Japanese Gothic fonts. Default of Debian/Fedora/Vine Linux (AUR)
  • ttf-mplusAUR - Modern Gothic style Japanese outline fonts. It includes all of Japanese Hiragana/Katakana, Basic Latin, Latin-1 Supplement, Latin Extended-A, IPA Extensions and most of Japanese Kanji, Greek, Cyrillic, Vietnamese with 7 weights (proportional) or 5 weights (monospace). (AUR)
  • ttf-ipa-monaAUR, ttf-monapoAUR - Japanese fonts to show 2channel Shift JIS art properly. (AUR)
  • ttf-sazanami - Japanese free TrueType font. This is outdated and not maintained any more, but may be defined as a fallback font on several environments.


Also see #Monospaced, #Sans-serif and #Serif


Almost all Unicode fonts contain the Greek character set (polytonic included). Some additional font packages, which might not contain the complete Unicode set but utilize high quality Greek (and Latin, of course) typefaces are:

  • otf-gfsAUR - Selection of OpenType fonts from the Greek Font Society (AUR)
  • ttf-mgopenAUR - Professional TrueType fonts from Magenta (AUR)


  • culmusAUR - Nice collection of free Hebrew fonts (AUR)


(This one contains a "look of disapproval" that might be more to your liking than the bdf-unifont one mentioned elsewhere in this document)
  • lohit-fontsAUR - Indic TrueType fonts from Fedora Project (containing Oriya Fonts and more) (AUR)






Microsoft fonts

See MS Fonts.

Apple Mac OS X fonts

  • ttf-mac-fontsAUR - Mac OS X TrueType fonts
  • ttf-macAUR - Mac OS X TrueType fonts (This package does not come with the ttf fonts (only the otf fonts), they have to be provided on their own.


Here are some suggestions. Every user has their own favorite, so experiment to find yours. If you are in a hurry, you read Dan Benjamin's blog post: Top 10 Programming Fonts.

Here is a long list of fonts by Trevor Lowing: http://www.lowing.org/fonts/.







Fallback font order with X11

Fontconfig automatically chooses a font that matches the current requirement. That is to say, if one is looking at a window containing English and Chinese for example, it will switch to another font for the Chinese text if the default one does not support it.

Fontconfig lets every user configure the order they want via $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/fontconfig/fonts.conf. If you want a particular Chinese font to be selected after your favorite Serif font, your file would look like this:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
     <family>Your favorite Latin Serif font name</family>
     <family>Your Chinese font name</family>

You can add a section for Sans-serif and monospaced as well. For more informations, have a look at the fontconfig manual.

Font alias

In Linux there are several font aliases which represent other fonts in order that applications may use similar fonts. The most common aliases are: serif for a font of the serif type (e.g. DejaVu Serif); sans-serif for a font of the sans-serif type (e.g. DejaVu Sans); and monospace for a monospaced font (e.g. DejaVu Sans Mono). However, the fonts which these aliases represent may vary and the relationship is often not shown in font management tools such as those found in KDE and other desktop environments.

To reverse an alias and find which font it is representing, run:

$ fc-match monospace
DejaVuSansMono.ttf: "DejaVu Sans Mono" "Book"

In this case DejaVuSansMono.ttf is the font represented by the monospace alias.


Install fonts from official repositories

Maybe you want to install all fonts available in official repositories.

All fonts
$ pacman -S $(pacman -Ssq font)
All TrueType fonts
$ pacman -S $(pacman -Ssq ttf)

Application-specific font cache

Matplotlib (python-matplotlib or python2-matplotlib) uses its own font cache, so after updating fonts, be sure to remove $HOME/.matplotlib/fontList.cache so it will regenerate its cache and find the new fonts [2].

See Also