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Tux the Pengin

OK, here's a freebie: A simulation of the old text-based Star Trek game we used to play on HP 2100's using a Teletype ASR-33 as a console: StarTrek Game

Font De-Uglification Using TrueType Fonts

[October, 2003: I just ran across a Web location to obtain the fonts: - Have fun!]

[August, 2002: As of sometime last month, Micro$oft has withdrawn their once "free" access to the ubiquitous "Essential Web Fontpack"; it is now only available with purchase of certain Micro$oft so-called "products". To avoid becoming a Free Software martyr, I am NOT going to make them available on the Web myself. The instructions below will still work for any fonts or fontpacks you may be able to acquire through other means.]


  1. References
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Resolution
  4. Activating TrueType Fonts
  5. RedHat 8 and 9


the fonts are [NO LONGER*] here...


Linux frequently and justfiably takes a pie in the face for having poor font support. However there are a few easy (surprise!) tweaks you can make to ease the eye pain. Turn the lights down, log on and (grr) surf up to Redmond for a taste of the only thing Microsoft has ever given away free - their TrueType fontpack. See "Resources", above. This HOWTO applies to later distributions like RedHat7.1 and newer, although the techniques in general will help older older ones too, but file names and locations may differ slightly.

The font cure is reached through a two-step plan. In step one, we adjust the basic resolution of the X treatment of fonts for large monitors, and which fonts to use as defaults. Step two is to find, download, unpack and activate some free TrueType fonts. OK, so that's six or seven steps. (But they're sub-steps, OK?)


This step only affects the Gnome and KDE window frames and application font sizes, not what you see in your Netscape or Konqueror browsers. Presumably the assumption by distribution authors is that most folks will be using small, low-resolution screens. I do not know why, most of the geeks I know have at least 17-inch screens and most have 19-inchers or larger. At resolutions of 1024x768 or 1152x870 and up, the usual 75dpi Linux fonts can be too small to comfortably use for any lengthy hacking session.

The first step if you are using high res on a small screen is to bump the default font resolution from 75dpi to 100dpi. Make sure you have some 100dpi fonts installed. Edit the file /etc/X11/fs/config as shown below:

# where to look for fonts
catalogue = /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc:unscaled,

Notice that we have also added the truetype directory (we will be creating it in step two, although it need not be there to see the results of this first step alone). If the result is not what you desire, just put the 75dpi font dir location back before the 100dpi in the catalogue list.

To see the results, restart the font server:

# /etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs restart

You may also see differences next time you log out and log in.

Activating TrueType Fonts

Browser fonts are better served by TrueType fonts. I hate to say it, but the best place to get a set complete enough to satisfy a large portion of the Web's current offerings [USED TO BE] at (ugh) Micro$oft. Go to the link at the topof the page, and download the fonts for Windows 95/2k/NT (32-bit) to your /usr/share/fonts/truetype directory. These are archived into self-extracting archives. In order to unpack them, you will need the "cabextract" utility, also linked under "References" above. Download the cabextract source, and compile it:

# tar -zxf cabextract*.gz
# cd cabextract-0.5
# ./configure
# make
# make install

Make a truetype directory and unpack all the fonts you downloaded into it.

# cd [directory where fonts.exe are]	
# mkdir /usr/share/fonts/truetype
# cabextract *.exe /usr/share/fonts/truetype

Go into the truetype directory and make sure all the fontsnames are in all lowercase, and there are no spaces in the names. Here�s a little script to clean up the font names if you need to:

 ## -------- convert upper to lower case ---------
 ls * | while read f
    if [ -f $f ]; then
      if [ "$f" != "`echo "$f" | tr A-Z a-z`" ]; then
       #Note that 'This' will overwrite 'this'!
       mv -iv "$f" "`echo "$f" | tr A-Z a-z`"

 ## eof

Notice the punctuation, especially the single quotes. Then create the fontdir and font index files:

# cd /usr/share/fonts/truetype
# ttmkfdir -o fonts.scale
# mkfontdir

I believe this is done automatically in RedHat7.1+ when you restart the font server with:

# /etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs restart

That should get truetype fonts going for you. Log out of your session and log back in to see the changes.

RedHat 8 and 9

Do not do all that other stuff. It is easier now, just copy your truetype fonts (but NOT fonts.scale or fonts.dir !) to /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TTF and then:

# cd /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TTF
# ttmkfdir -o fonts.scale
# mkfontdir

Then, of course, restart the font server:

# /etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs restart

Credits: Most of this came from the Font De-Uglification HOWTO by Doug Holland, but greatly simplified and with a focus on RedHat.

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