Stretch current (2017) font overview

A lot of font configuration things have been fixed so a lot of information on the web no longer applies. This overview explains the various sources of fonts, how the system uses it and when and what uses fixed scale fonts.


Scaling One's System For Large and Small Displays



Adding fonts

Fonts can be added to Debian by installing the appropriate package; fonts are specified in the “Fonts” section.


The above mentioned paths can be customized in the fontconfig configuration file at /etc/fonts/fonts.conf – you can also include subdirectories or links, which is useful if you have a directory of fonts on a separate hard drive (or partition or other location).

You can also verify that the fonts are present by looking for them in an application (such as a word processor), or by using the command fc-list. A python based graphical utility, font-manager, is also available to preview all installed and available fonts.


fontconfig is the underlying configuration tool; you may find the following programs useful:

To view a list of monospaced client-side fonts (available from Xft, so it is possible to apply font hinting and antialiasing):

  $ fc-list :spacing=mono

To view a list of server-side (available directly from X server, so font hinting and antialiasing are not available) monospaced fonts:

  $ xlsfonts -fn '*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-m*'
  $ xlsfonts -fn '*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-c*'

You may also find the following useful to change the default font rendering:

  $ dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config
  $ dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig


See all the fonts included in Debian at (updated weekly), or For usage of Debian fonts on Windows or Mac OS X, see Various libre fonts are missing from Debian and need to be packaged.

email lists: CJKUnifonts-devel CJKUnifonts-HakkaIM CJKUnifonts-MinnanIM freefont-devel pkg-fonts-bugs pkg-fonts-commits pkg-fonts-devel

Commonly Used Fonts

The fonts-liberation (ttf-liberation in squeeze) package supplies fonts with the same metrics as Times, Arial and Courier. These fonts are named Liberation and are present in most cases. If you require the non-free original Microsoft fonts the ttf-mscorefonts-installer package (in contrib) can be used to obtain them.

East Asian fonts: ttf-arphic-uming ttf-wqy-zenhei ttf-sazanami-mincho ttf-sazanami-gothic ttf-unfonts-core

(from Wikipedia: Help:Multilingual support (East Asian))

If you want to use non-free fonts like Calibri which originate from Microsoft Office, you can download and install them (gratis) from the Microsoft Powerpoint Viewer.

Debian Fonts Task Force



The pkg-fonts team will use these tags for usertags (user:

Source Font Formats

Generating Fonts from Source

The upstream build system should always be used for generating fonts. If upstream does not have a build system, then it is a good idea to contribute one to them based on the following Free Software tools.

The fontforge is an editor for outline and bitmap fonts that generates all kinds of fonts. It is also scriptable and has an addon tool xgridfit for hinting. Fonts using these tools can be found using these commands:

apt-cache rdepends fontforge
apt-cache rdepends xgridfit

Font Formats

ttf, otf, bdf, pfb, fnt, woff

Font Tools

texlive-font-utils, fttools, ttf2tex, freetype1-tools, ttf2pt1, otf2bdf, fonttools

Further Resources


Old, retained for historical interest and reference: