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The [[http://pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org/review/|Debian Fonts Review]] [[https://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/pkg-fonts-devel/2016-September/018319.html|needs]] to be [[https://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/pkg-fonts-devel/2016-September/018325.html|revived]].
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|| [[https://github.com/GNOME/gnome-font-viewer|GNOME Font Viewer]] || DebianPkg:gnome-font-viewer]] || Simple interface to show a preview of all fonts installed || || [[https://github.com/GNOME/gnome-font-viewer|GNOME Font Viewer]] || DebianPkg:gnome-font-viewer || Simple interface to show a preview of all fonts installed ||

Adding fonts


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


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

  • 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). he 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).

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.

The Debian Fonts Review needs to be revived.

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

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.


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

fn-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.



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)

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

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


Further Resources


Old, retained for historical interest and reference: