Font Sadness

I remember the days, not so long ago, when I could drop new fonts in my ~/.fonts directory and run fc-cache. The next time I instantiated a GNOME font chooser dialog somewhere, I would see my new fonts. It seems that in GNOME 2.20, I now need to restart my entire GNOME session to have the fonts show up. What is up with that? There must be a way around this. Anyone? Anyone?

Granted, I don’t even think I should have to run fc-cache. Ideally I should just be able to drop a bunch of fonts into the fonts directory in Nautilus and everything just works. That doesn’t seem to be the case either.

UPDATE: fc-cache works now, and I see my fonts without restarting the session. I apparently had a corrupt font cache or something. Although I’m not sure why a session restart addressed it. I’d still be interested in knowing if it’s possible to add fonts without using a terminal — it’s not obvious to me at all how this is accomplished in GNOME.

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20 Responses to Font Sadness

  1. iain says:

    its working for me…

  2. iain says:

    its working for me, and I don’t need to run fc-cache

  3. iain: had a bad font cache, updated the post. Cheers!

  4. Johan says:

    For adding fonts without a terminal, I think you can just drop fonts into the Nautilus “fonts://” location.

  5. Isak says:

    I’ve always just copied the .ttf files to ~/.fonts or fonts:// in nautilus and everything just worked.

    I just tried on ubuntu gutsy, and it worked fine:
    1) open fonts:// in nautilus, pick a random font writable by me and move it to desktop
    2) Open gedit, change font in preferences -> removed font is not there.
    3) Put font back using nautilus
    4) restart gedit
    5) Try to change font in preferences -> re-added font is available.

    I didn’t think 4) was needed, but apparently it was (atleast for gedit). No terminal is needed though.

  6. Harm Hilvers says:

    Last time I installed fonts, the Vista fonts, I just copied them from a zip file to ~/.fonts and that’s it. I can’t remember using any command line tricks.

  7. Interesting feedback all.

    @Johan: Nice trick about fonts:// … the obvious problem I see is that it’s indiscoverable.

    @You have to absolutely restart an application to get the fonts to show up, but not having to run fc-cache or anything is nice. Not sure why fc-cache is needed for me.

    Copying the fonts simply to ~/.fonts doesn’t work for me. Maybe it has something to do with lots of legacy cruft (spanning many, many years of GNOME) in my home directory. One of these days I should start fresh.

  8. Here’s an old bug about it:

    What I’d like to see is a simple “Install” button when you double-click on/open a font. Generally, I see no reason to even end up in the Fonts folder (though I can see the case for making it more accessible).

  9. troll says:

    Even sadder is that there are no good fonts available on default linux distributions :-(

  10. Ryan says:

    You can drop into fonts:// to install, as others have said – I think you can actually get to there by clicking something like “Font Folder” in the Fonts control thingie. (On Win now so can’t verify.)

  11. ethana2 says:

    Andrew Conkling, that’s genius. You have my vote.

  12. Rui says:

    On the font preferences dialog if you click “Details…” you can then click on “Go to font folder” which opens up nautilus on fonts://

    Still, maybe not that discoverable :-(

  13. jojomonkey says:

    just drag and drop into ‘fonts:///’ and restart the xfs.
    i’ve had magic luck w/ gettings fonts to be picked up w/o having to restart xfs but usually i end up having to open the terminal.

    troll: can’t agree w/ you more. i’m anal about fonts – have found ‘folks-light’ @ 10px to be great though on GNOME.

  14. Pete Boyd says:

    You can get to fonts:// (at least in Debian Etch’s Nautilus 2.14.3 which I’m using) via File -> Open Location… -> enter fonts:// -> Open

    Nautilus used to have a very useful location bar but it disappeared at some point. Is it possible to get it back?

  15. Control-L will show the location bar; also it’s a toggle option under the “Go” menu.

  16. Pete Boyd says:

    After reading this post today I lerned a few things, so tried them out and had a few questions. Here’s what I found out and what so far remains unanswered, as applies to Debian 4.0 Etch’s GNOME 2.14.3. I’d appreciate any comments:

    GNOME has a location you can copy fonts to to install them: fonts://. This seems to be a compendium of all the system fonts in /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ and below and your personal fonts in ~/.fonts.

    If you, logged in as an ordinary user, drag and drop, or copy and paste, fonts there it saves them in ~/.fonts and they’re subsequently only available to you.
    When you do paste into there, you won’t see the font appear in the list, though if you try to copy it again GNOME will say it is there and it is actually there. I haven’t tried but you may have to logout and login again to see them in the list, which is counter intuitive.

    Presumably you need to be root to put fonts there to be available for the system, rather than for you individually?
    There’s no way to ‘become root’ through the UI so how do you do this? log into GNOME as root? (I’ve never actually considered doing that before)
    And if you do login to GNOME as root and copy a font to fonts://, will they actually be saved in root’s ~/.fonts or /usr/share/fonts/truetype/?

    Does any or all of this apply to non-truetype fonts?

    If I select to download a font from the web, it defaults to opening in gnome-font-viewer but you can’t do anything in gnome-font-viewer other than look at it, which seems kind of pointless, what you want is buttons to ‘install’ and be asked ‘Install for just you’ or ‘Install for all users’, with the latter asking for the root password. Maybe later versions of GNOME do this.

    Aaron said : “Control-L will show the location bar; also it’s a toggle option under the “Go” menu.”

    Well for me it gives a dialog asking where you want to go. What i used to like was an actual location bar, along the top of the window, like a web browser has.
    I don’t have a “Go” menu, maybe I have to wait for my next dose of GNOME from Debian in a year and a half.

  17. jojomonkey says:

    If you want a root nautilus session, run nautilus as sudo (or su – root) via terminal.

  18. @Pete: Yeah, Aaron’s Ctrl+L comment was directed at someone using GNOME 2.16+. You can see more info here:

  19. Pete Boyd says:

    jojomonkey: I know I could run nautilus from the command-line, but you would have thought GNOME itself would have a means to become root for those things that required it, as there is in the printer config UI.

  20. Nathan Holstein says:

    Inspired by this post and the recent release of the STIX fonts beta, I submitted this patch ( Comments welcome!

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