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Whenever you’re happily setting up your new Ubuntu system (or Linux in general, for that matter), one of the things you’ll probably think about the least is getting the correct fonts installed. If you’re a bit confused about why I mentioned fonts, it’s because most distributions (or at least those who’d like to remain legal) only use free, or “libre”, fonts. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using these fonts, there will most likely be multiple cases where you’ll be required to have certain fonts, such as writing papers for school.
Therefore, it’s important to get these fonts installed so you can continue your life without having to think twice.
Why Aren’t They Already Included?
As I just mentioned, most distributions do not automatically include these fonts because they want to remain legal. The fonts that we’re accustomed to are owned by their respective companies, and everyone who uses them is essentially using them via a license. Those Linux distributions can’t include them without asking you to accept the license, so they don’t include them.
However, if you install them manually, you’ll be accepting the respective license, which therefore makes it legal to use them. You accept the license by either a specific dialog which appears asking you to accept, or by the sheer act of installing them.
Installation of the Microsoft / Windows fonts, which include Arial and Times New Roman, is actually extremely easy. Simply open up the Ubuntu Software Center, and then search for :
Once found, hit the Install button and let it download. Once it begins installing, you’ll be asked to accept Microsoft’s license on the fonts. Afterwards, it’ll continue installing the fonts, and you’ll be set as soon as it completes. If you wish, you can also open up a terminal and run the command :
sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer.
Again, after it downloads the necessary files, you’ll be asked to accept the license (by hitting enter), and it’ll finish with the installation.
Mac OS X Fonts
For some of the popular fonts that ship with Mac OS X, you’ll have to go through a somewhat more complex process to install them. Please note that for educational and professional environments (minus graphic design and similar fields), you will more than likely not need these fonts, as much of the world depends on Microsoft’s fonts, specifically Times New Roman. However if you would like to have these on your Ubuntu system, you’ll need to open up your terminal and enter in the following commands:
tar zxvf mac_fonts.tar.gz
sudo mv fonts /usr/share/fonts/
sudo fc-cache -f -v
These commands do the following:
- Download a .tar package with the fonts.
- “Unzips” the .tar package.
- Moves the unzipped font files into the system’s fonts folder.
- Updates the font cache.
After completing this process, you should have the Mac fonts ready to go. Essentially, it’s as easy as copy and paste. Please note that if the very first command doesn’t work, then the link is most likely broken. If that is the case, you’ll need to find another Mac fonts .tar package online and download it, then continue.
Installing Other Fonts
Since we’re on the topic of fonts, installing fonts which you find online and aren’t associated with Microsoft or Apple can be easily installed as well. After you download a font file from a website such as dafont.com, you can simply double-click on the file. A window will appear which shows examples of the font in use, and offers an Install button. Clicking this will do all the work necessary to successfully install the font on your system, which makes it painless.
Thankfully, getting the fonts that we want installed on our Ubuntu systems isn’t too hard to accomplish, especially with instructions like these in hand. Plus, it’s something you only have to do once, which is great for those who don’t do a clean upgrade with each new Ubuntu release. However, I’m sure a script could be written which can do everything for you automatically.
Do you think it’s a burden that Linux distributions cannot include such fonts? Which fonts do you need the most or prefer the most? Let us know in the comments.