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* [[tahoma]]

Translation(s): English - Français - 한국어

Adding fonts


Fonts can be added system-wide to Debian by installing the appropriate package; fonts are specified in the “Fonts” section. As default system-wide fonts will be installed into /usr/share/fonts by the package-manager.


  • For most uses, you’ll want TrueType (TTF) and OpenType (OTF) fonts – these packages start with fonts-.

  • Some non-free font downloader packages are in contrib, which you will need to add to your sources if not present.


Install a font manually by downloading the appropriate .ttf or otf files and placing them into /usr/local/share/fonts (system-wide), ~/.local/share/fonts (user-specific) or ~/.fonts (user-specific). These files should have the permission 644 (-rw-r--r--), otherwise they may not be usable.

Run fc-cache to update the font cache (add -v for verbose output). 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).

If you are installing bit map fonts you might need to enable this with dpkg-reconfigure:

  # dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config

Then enable bit maps font in the third screen.

GNOME users can simply open a Nautilus window to fonts:// and drag&drop the font files in there.

You can verify 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:

  • fc-list – lists fonts

  • fc-match -s helvetica – show an ordered list of fonts matching a certain name or pattern

  • fc-cache -fv – rebuilds cached list of fonts (in ~/.config/fontconfig, older caches may also be in ~/.fontconfig)

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

Font lists

The page http://www.miriamruiz.es/debfonts/ displays the fonts contained in some packages, but the list of packages and fonts isn't updated any more.

The Debian Fonts Review service needs to be revived.

The Free Font Compilation is is also no longer updated.

Various libre fonts are missing from Debian and need to be packaged.

Commonly Used Fonts

The fonts-liberation 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: fonts-arphic-uming fonts-wqy-zenhei fonts-sazanami-mincho fonts-sazanami-gothic fonts-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.


If fonts do not display properly, you may want to make sure the right font gets loaded, for example with:

fc-match -s Helvetica

If it doesn't, you may want to regenerate the caches with:

dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig fontconfig-config

You can also run this as a user with fc-cache -fv.

Otherwise, you can also look at the font in a viewer like font-manager.

Individual font rendering can be tested directly with the ftview program available in the freetype-demos package. For example, here is how to show sample glyphs from the Liberation Mono font using the 3.5 and 4.0 rendering engines:

FREETYPE_PROPERTIES="truetype:interpreter-version=35" ftview 16 /usr/share/fonts/truetype/liberation/LiberationMono-Regular.ttf  &
FREETYPE_PROPERTIES="truetype:interpreter-version=40" ftview 16 /usr/share/fonts/truetype/liberation/LiberationMono-Regular.ttf  &

This was quite useful to diagnose changes in the engine after the Debian buster upgrade, described in 866685.



The fonts team will use these tags for usertags (user: pkg-fonts-devel@lists.alioth.debian.org)

  • non-free: for packages that contain non-free fonts taken from the web (severity serious)

  • license-violation: for packages that contain fonts that are GPL/LGPL but do not distribute source (severity serious)

  • rfn-violation: for packages that contain OFL fonts with a Reserved Font Name that have not been renamed or have lost the upstream RFN notice (severity serious)

  • ?contrib: for packages that contain free fonts that cannot be built with free tools (severity serious)

  • duplicate: for packages that contain fonts that duplicate fonts from other packages (severity normal?minor?wishlist?)

  • split: for packages that contain fonts we would like to see split into other packages (severity wishlist)
  • fontconfig: for packages that should switch to dynamically looking up font paths using fontconfig (severity wishlist)

  • render: for packages that should switch to a font renderer that automatically uses the right fonts (severity wishlist)

Font design and formats

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

There is also birdfont and ttfautohint

Output Font Formats

ttf, otf, bdf, pfb, fnt, woff

Font Tools


Debian package




Programs for font conversion, testing, and other manipulation.





Font converter from TrueType to Adobe Type1.



Command line utility that generates BDF bitmap fonts from ?OpenType fonts.



A Python library to open and manipulate OTF and TTF files.

GTK+ Font Manager


Python program to show and compare fonts

GNOME Font Viewer


Simple interface to show a preview of all fonts installed

There are several font tools which are not included in Debian, but are used to produce fonts included in Debian:


Available in Debian although not yet in stable.


Someone is working on inclusion into Debian.


Someone requested inclusion into Debian.


Someone needs to file an RFP or ITP bugreport and update this page with resulting bug number.


Was available in Debian but is not part of stable or unstable.



{o} defcon


{o} booleanOperations


{o} cu2qu


{o} fontmake


{o} glyphsLib


{o} MutatorMath


{o} ufo2ft


{X} mkspecimen

Font specimen generator, inspired by Wikipedia version

{X} debian2appstream

AppStream metadata generator for fonts (pregenerated fonts- entries)

Further Resources

Reference manual

Wiki pages

* tahoma


Old, retained for historical interest and reference: