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Adding fonts

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


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

  • Some non-free fonts are in contrib, which you will need to add to your sources if no present.

To add fonts on an ad hoc basis, you may install them in GNOME by opening a Nautilus window to fonts:// and dragging and dropping. dfontmgr may also work.

In more detail, place a font file in the directory /usr/local/share/fonts (for all users) or ~/.fonts (for a specific user); both TTF and TTC (TrueType Collection) files should work. These paths are specified 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 may check that the fonts are present by checking for them in an application (such as a word processor) or by using the command fc-list – in future the (GNOME) font-manager may provide a good list. If fonts do not show up, try fc-cache -fv to force a rebuild of the font list.


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

  • fc-list – lists fonts fc-cache -fv – rebuilds cached list of fonts

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

  • dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config

    dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig


See all the TrueType (TTF) fonts included in Debian at http://pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org/review/ (updated weekly) or http://www.miriamruiz.es/debfonts/.

See all the TrueType (TTF) and ?OpenType (OTF) fonts included in Debian for usage on Windows or Mac OS X at http://fonts.debian.net/.

email lists: CJKUnifonts-devel CJKUnifonts-HakkaIM CJKUnifonts-MinnanIM Freefont-devel Pkg-fonts-bugs Pkg-fonts-commits Pkg-fonts-devel

Debian Fonts Task Force




The pkg-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)
  • 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)



To:      Debian Bug Tracking System <submit@bugs.debian.org>
Subject: <package>: contains non-free font

Severity: serious
User: pkg-fonts-devel@lists.alioth.debian.org
Usertags: non-free
X-Debbugs-CC: pkg-fonts-devel@lists.alioth.debian.org

Your package contains a non-free font:

<filename in Debian here>
<url to the pkg-fonts review page here>

This looks to be from here:

<upstream URLs here>

From the zip file:

<upstream licence here>

This licence does not clearly allow all the DFSG-required freedoms:


Please contact the font author and ask them to licence the font
under a DFSG-compliant font licence such as the OFL:


If they are not willing to do so or cannot be contacted, please remove
the font from the binary package and the source package and depend on
another font package or move the package to non-free.

Please contact your upstream and ask them to use fontconfig or similar
to get fonts for use by the software instead of using a specific font.

This message is brought to you by the Debian Fonts Task Force:


(ToDo: Template for free fonts)

Source Font Formats

sfd (fontforge's ascii file format for vector fonts)

Generating Fonts from Source

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. The following fonts are built from sfd (found using apt-cache rdepends fontforge):

- ttf-junicode

- beteckna

- essays1743

- ttf-atarismall

- ttf-breip

I created some script to create bold, italic, and condensed typefaces out of sfd fonts:


Font Formats

ttf, otf, bdf, pfb, fnt

Font Tools

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



Fonts and Debian: existing and missing

Font related pages:

Further Resources


Old, retained for historical interest and reference: