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In-Depth: Font Installation under Unix/Linux

Fonts from MyFonts.com are fully compatible with Linux and Unix systems. PostScript fonts have been supported by virtually all flavors of Unix for many years. TrueType fonts are generally supported, especially by more recent distributions.

Step 1: Determine what type of fonts are supported on your system

If you're not sure about your particular version of Unix, check to see what type of fonts are currently installed:

# locate .pfa .pfb
/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/UTI_____.pfa
/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/cour.pfa

# locate .ttf
/usr/share/fonts/default/TrueType/starmath.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/default/TrueType/timi____.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/default/TrueType/comicbd.ttf

.pfa and .pfb are PostScript fonts. .ttf files are TrueType fonts.

Step 2: Get the right files

  1. Order the Windows version of the font
  2. Unpack the distribution
    # unzip eyeballs.zip
    Archive:  /home/bryce/tmp/eyeballs.zip
      inflating: 1401a___.inf
      inflating: 1401A___.AFM
      inflating: 1401A___.PFB
      inflating: 1401A___.PFM
      inflating: READMEPC.HTM
      inflating: TT1401M_.TTF
      inflating: license.htm
    
    This example includes both TrueType and Type1 fonts. The .ttf file is all you need for TrueType.
    .pfa or .pfb files contain PostScript fonts and require corresponding metrics files .afm or .pfm.
    The .inf file is for the Macintosh.

Step 3: Install the fonts appropriate to your system

If a graphical font installation utility is present on your system, use it. The simplest possible case of a manual font install is:
  1. Add the .ttf files to an existing directory that already has .ttf font files.
  2. Regenerate the index with
    ttmkfdir > fonts.dir
  3. Restart the font server (or just restart the window manager).

In general the font install process is:

  1. Create a new directory.
  2. Add the directory to the font server’s path.
  3. Add fonts to the chosen directory.
  4. Run a utility to process the fonts (e.g. ttmkfdir or type1inst).
  5. Restart the font server (e.g. xfs or your X server).

Unfortunately, the details vary considerably between Unix distributions. Look at how the fonts already installed on your system are set up to learn more.

Step 4: See if it worked

The following utilities are useful for looking at fonts:

kcharselect
gfontsel
xfontsel
xlsfonts
chkfontpath
fslsfonts

“kcharselect”, which comes with KDE, is capable of selecting any glyph from a full Unicode font.

If you need more details, or have special needs

Note that not all programs will support all fonts. Some programs even keep their own private font lists. For more information search for “fonts”, “type 1”, “TrueType” or “Unicode” at www.linuxdoc.org.


Many thanks to Bryce Nesbitt for compiling these instructions!