Want better fonts in Ubuntu or Linux Mint? (or any Linux distro for that matter)

I have been a Windows user my whole life, and only in the last 3-4 years or so did I become interested in Linux. It started with Xandros, which, honestly, I didn’t like, and then I tried Ubuntu, which I liked, and then finally Linux Mint, which I like even more. I currently dual-boot Windows 7 and Linux Mint 8 on my main desktop.

One area where Linux consistently lags behind Windows and Mac OS (in my opinion) is in fonts. The fonts included with Ubuntu and Linux Mint, for example, are nowhere near as pretty as the Windows Vista / Windows 7 fonts.

Reference #1
Reference #2

So here’s what I did to “fix” it (this guide assumes very basic familiarity with Linux systems).

Note: this will only work if you also have Windows Vista or Windows 7 installed (for all you dual-booters out there, lol). It may also work with Windows XP if Microsoft Office 2007 is installed, but I’m not positive on that one.

  1. Open Nautilus by opening a terminal and typing ‘sudo nautilus’ and entering your password.
  2. Next, browse to usr > share > fonts > truetype. Create a new folder here (I called mine ‘windows-fonts’).
  3. Open another Nautilus window (does not have to be “sudo”), then mount your Windows drive in Ubuntu / Linux Mint. This should be as easy as double-clicking on it and entering your password.
  4. Browse to the Windows\Fonts directory.
  5. Find a font you like. I grabbed all of the SegoeUI fonts, for example. Calibri and Cambria are nice ones too. Copy the desired fonts to the new folder you created in usr > share > fonts > truetype.
  6. Type ‘sudo fc-cache -fv’ in a terminal window to refresh the font cache.
  7. Go to Appearance Preferences > Fonts and choose your new fonts!
  8. Screenshot
    Click image for a bigger…uh…image

This obviously doesn’t jibe with open-source software principles, as it requires the purchase of Windows. But to all of us suckers who have already forked over the cash for Windows, why not? (OK not really suckers, since I am openly positive about Windows 7).

P.S. If you’re looking for the Microsoft Core fonts package, open a terminal and type sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts. Then type sudo fc-cache -fv to reset the font cache.

Andrew Block

I (Andrew Block) am the Director of Analytics and Insights for MSP-C, an awesome brand journalism company in Minneapolis, MN. Insights are everywhere - and this blog explores that premise. One part geek and one part analyst, I like to blog about techy and insightful things. Or insightful techy things...or....

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  • http://andrewblock.net Andrew Block

    @tanuki,

    Another thing I found –> http://code.google.com/p/symlinker/

  • http://andrewblock.net Andrew Block

    @tanuki,

    I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I did some Googling: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/using-symlinks-in-windows-vista/

  • tanuki

    Can someone give a primer on how to do a symlink share of the fonts folder?

    I also dual-boot the same way as Andrew, but rather than duplicating the immense library of fonts (many findable via the awesome site http://www.DaFont.com) I’d love to let the OS’s play nice and just share :)

  • http://andrewblock.net Andrew Block

    @Shailen,

    That’s a good idea, although I am not sure of the legality of me re-distributing proprietary fonts. If someone could show me a document saying it is legal, I would do it in a heartbeat.

  • http://digitalgraphy.wordpress.com Shailen Sobhee

    Thank you very much. Maybe you should upload an archive with all important Windows 7 fonts (cambria, calibri, arial and Segoe UI) for people who do not have windows.

    Great tutorial. Now my Ubuntu looks decent.

  • http://andrewblock.net Andrew Block

    @Herbet,

    Interesting. To each his own I suppose.

  • Herbet Ho

    Gotta agree with Andrej; I really don’t like the Segoe/Calibri family of fonts. In fact, they’re what’s keep my from switching to Windows 7 (and yes, I’ve tried disabling them – Windows 7 just doesn’t listen when you tell it to stop smoothing all fonts).

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  • http://andrewblock.net Andrew Block

    Yeah I do really dig both Tahoma and then some of the newer office / vista / win 7 fonts, especially Calibri and Segow UI. Unfortunately the ubuntu fonts don’t compare.

  • Andrej M.

    I’m a sucker for the Tahoma font (standard “Classic” look on XP), the new antialiased fonts just don’t do it for me unfortunately. The guide helped. ;)

    Cheers!