Edit Mon Jun 20 12:19:54 CDT 2011: This is meant to be a semi-humorous, “newbie” tutorial in response to an apparent challenge. My goal is to show how easy installing fonts could be for a non-geek newbie that is “scared” of the command-line. Based on some feedback I have seen, that was not clear originally.
So I am reading this article about the big Apple malware fail and see this challenge in the comments:
# redofromstart posted Fri Jun 17 12:56:48 PDT 2011
Hey, Linux luvvers: tell me how to install OpenType fonts so they’re available to all apps and all users. Go ahead, I have pretty much the whole weekend…
I am always up for a challenge. Especially if I get to learn something new. Since I really have no clue what defines an “OpenType font”, this will obviously teach me something. My goal? To see if this is truly a difficult task, or if the challenger is just another anti-Linux FUDster that is too ignorant to know how easy it can be to administer a Linux PC. This person does not really explain what is meant by “all apps”, so I am guessing that to mean usable in Office suites and programs like The GIMP by any user on the PC to set the font for creating documents and text in graphics.
My system is a Mandriva Linux 2010.2 PC. As far as I know I have never installed an “OpenType font”. If there are any on this PC, they came with the distribution. My first challenge is to find out, “What the heck is an OpenType font?” A quick Startpage search finds me this page: http://www.adobe.com/type/opentype/ where I learn that OpenType fonts are based on some beastly font rules created in a joint effort of Adobe and Microsoft. I am feeling squeamish already. This paragraph gives me the gist of the information:
The OpenType format is an extension of the TrueType SFNT format that also can support Adobe® PostScript® font data and new typographic features. OpenType fonts containing PostScript data, such as those in the Adobe Type Library, have an .otf suffix in the font file name, while TrueType-based OpenType fonts have a .ttf file name suffix.
Uhm, okay, sounds proprietary and thus “icky”. I know generally what TrueType fonts are but I have never seen an .otf suffix in my life. I have seen the .ttf suffix. This OpenType cruft is supposedly an “embrace and exten(guish)d” version of TrueType and Type 1 fonts rolled into one file. But okay, I decided to take this challenge, so I need to see if I can find some free, as in gratis, OpenType fonts to try to install. I need some unencumbered .otf and .ttf OpenType fonts it seems. I plan to just try to install them with the font installer in the Mandriva Control Center (aka MCC). What do I have to lose? Well, other than some time and a lame challenge about fonts for which I probably have no need.
However, before I go looking for fonts I believe I should do some more reading. This article at Linux.com gave me more than enough information: A font primer for Linux So, after reading that, I go font hunting. Another quick search finds this site which appears to be a cornucopia of OpenType fonts: fontsopentype.com
I decide to download four fonts and attempt to install them with the MCC font installer. Hmmm, the first one I click is not free and is listed as Price: $99.00 USD. Right, I am going to spend $100 on a font. Not. Next try … Price: $29.00 USD. I am beginning to smell a dead rat, or at least a site that is just a front for a commercial venture. Yup, each URL I check at fontsopentype.com goes to a site that sells fonts. Granted, I did not check every URL at the site. But all the URLs I checked point to the same web shop. I need “free as in gratis” stuff for testing this OpenType font thingie. I do not have money to waste on fonts that I do not really need to just meet some silly challenge from a probable anti-Linux dink. If you want gratis fonts for Linux do not go to fontsopentype.com. Back to the searches.
My next search leads me to some sites that do have gratis fonts. This one, freewarefonts.com, appears to be run by the same folks that run the fontsopentype.com site. However, if the fonts are truly gratis, who cares? Certainly I do not. I now select four fonts I want to download and try. I know someone who just adores all things Angelic. So my first pick is Gabriels Angels off of the Christmas Fonts page. As a US citizen I find myself drawn to the United font in the U section. As a fan of the comic Calvin and Hobbes I just have to get the Calvin and Hobbes font from the first C page. I need one more font and settle on the Miss Brooks font from page 12 of the M section, in honor of a close friend of mine who listens to Old Time Radio shows on the internet. One of his favorites is Our Miss Brooks starring Eve Arden.
All these fonts are zipped. Once I have them downloaded to a new directory on a NFS share, appropriately labeled “fonts”, I unzip them. Hmmm, every one of these is a .ttf type font. Not a .otf in the bunch. I am not sure if this is a true test of The Challenge since I know for certain my Linux system already has some .ttf fonts installed and I use them regularly. They are available to all the user accounts on the PC too. Regardless of these facts, I decide to go ahead and see just how difficult it is to install these new fonts on my Mandriva Linux 2010.2 system. So I start MCC and go to the “Manage, add and remove fonts. Import Windows(TM) fonts” page:
Then I run the Import Fonts tool:
After that finishes I do not see the fonts in the font list. But once I close and reopen the font manager, there they are. Here is the Calvin and Hobbes font highlighted:
I am wondering, “What was so hard about that?” Now I open a word processor to see if the fonts show up in the word processor:
There they are. I wonder what I am missing. Did the fellow mean actual .otf fonts? If so, I need to find some that are gratis and try those. I discover finding gratis .otf fonts is as easy as searching for ‘ “.otf” fonts ” free ” ‘. The first site I pull up, http://www.fontsquirrel.com/, looks very promising. Since I have already installed four .ttf fonts I decide to just look for two .otf fonts to install. I am always needing a good monospaced font, so I pick two of the .otf files from the Monospaced Fonts page. I choose Aurulent Sans Mono and NotCourierSans. Again these are zipped. I download and unzip the files, then run the Import Fonts tool again. And …
… there they are. Okay, one more thing to try. I will open The GIMP as a different user from an xterm and see if these .otf fonts show up in The GIMP. I create a brand new user named testuser. Unique eh? Then I run su – testuser to switch to the new user:
Then of course I run The GIMP as that user:
There are the fonts I just installed. Oh, my. That was so freaking hard … No, wait. It was not hard. Eat crow, dear redofromstart and all you other Linux nay-sayers who have not a clue when you spout your Fear, Uncertainty and Disinformation about Linux. Try a modern, user friendly, Linux distribution for a full year before you try to tell people something is “too hard to do on Linux”. No, I do not mean Ubuntu. You may not convert to Linux as a result, but at least you can avoid keeping your feet in your mouths. Frankly I do not care if you do or do not convert to Linux. Just stop catapulting the FUD from your medieval bastions of ignorance.
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