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Font Management In Linux, Part 2

Previewing Fonts

October 25, 2007

Last week we learned some useful tips about font management in Linux. Today we're going to learn a few more ways to preview fonts, how to view font character maps, how to manage console fonts, and how to design your own fonts.

Alert reader Terry H. informed me that another font previewer has been born: GNOME-Specimen. It's just a baby, first released in November 2006, and is now at version 0.3.1. Debian users will find it in the Lenny and Sid repositories. Fedora 6 users will find it in the Extras repository. Fedora 7 and 8 merged Core and Extras, so they don't have a separate Extras repository anymore. It has a nice interface that lets you select and compare different fonts side-by-side, though you can't install or remove fonts, or print samples.

Terry also pointed out that Nautilus has two different ways of previewing fonts, and that it will preview all font formats. One way is to navigate to a fonts directory, like /usr/share/fonts/default/type1, and click on the .pfb files. An easier way is to type fonts:/// in the Location bar; this displays all of your installed fonts. Another way to get to this window is via System -> Preferences -> Fonts. Click the "details" button, then "go to the font folder."

gucharmap, the GNOME Character Map, is pleasingly-readable and displays both complete tables of character sets, and information on individual characters. You may also place characters on the Clipboard to paste into documents. When you see hexadecimal characters (like 15-0C or 14-0F) in the character table that means that no glyph exists at that location in the table. (Of course gucharmap works in any desktop or window manager, not just GNOME.)

Command-line commandos can use xlsfonts to list all available fonts:

$ xlsfonts
-bitstream-bitstream vera sans mono-medium-r-normal--0-0-0-0-m-0-iso8859-9
-bitstream-bitstream vera sans-bold-o-normal--0-0-0-0-p-0-iso10646-1
Then use xfd ("X font display") to display a character map:
$ xfd -fn '-bitstream-bitstream vera sans mono-medium-r-normal--0-0-0-0-m-0-iso8859-9'
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