Overthinking Font Installation

If you overthink a problem, you’re bound to make it harder than it needs to be. My experience with Linux has taught me to respect the simplicity and elegance of the command line, easy access to system files and the beauty of collaboration that creates such functional tools. Recently, I’ve been impassioned by what is likely another very odd hobby. I’ve fallen in love with fonts.

My passion with this newfound arena has grown in part because it feels like I’ve stumbled on a world that’s always been there, but I’ve never noticed it before. It’s like when I took the math class in college on contemporary mathematical topics and learned about mobius strips, gerrymandering, gps satellite calculations, and later hexaflexagons. It’s like when Luke discovers the force or you find there’s multiple ways to end a level in Super Mario World.

Over Thinking Installing Fonts

Those uninitiated to the font world who might need an introduction could start with this quick rundown of resources:

For those of you already aware of this amazing world of letter dressing you’ll find the above list remarkably refreshing and easy to share.

Now, let’s talk about trying to figure out how to manage fonts on Linux. Because my other operating systems (Max OS-X and Windows 10) make managing fonts with font managers I expected the same on Linux. While I was playing around with Kubuntu over the weekend I discovered a very elegant interface to a font manager. The plasma desktop’s clean lines and thoughtful functionality asked me if I wanted to mass install my collection of 534 fonts to the user or to the system. It accepted open type fonts (OTF) and truetype fonts (TTF) without any issue. Wonderful.

But after testing Kubuntu for a weekend, the plasma desktop didn’t feel like it was my cup of tea. I’ve traditionally been a Ubuntu MATE guy, not just because I like its project lead but because the familiarity made me more productive. I made managing fonts on MATE harder than it needed to be. I kept searching for a font manager only to find orphaned posts about font managers whose latest updates were several software generations old.

I googled harder, to no avail.

Finally, I just picked a file and clicked on the file for Trajan Pro. Such an elegant font! It has the most wonderful descending j that balances delightfully with the rest of the characters. I was surprised that after I clicked it I was greeted by a dialogue with a button to install the font. BOOM! I was in business. Individually, this solution would work to manage fonts. I was disappointed that the character preview wasn’t working, but I generally preview my fonts elsewhere before I install them on the system, so I could overlook this issue.

So if I were writing a guide for installing a single font it would look like:

1. Close the application you want to use the font in
2. Download your font.
3. Find it in the folder you downloaded
4. Double click on it.
5. Press the Install Font Button.
6. Open your application you want to use the font in
7. Donate to the project of your choice (optional)

Over Thinking Installing Fonts2

As I mentioned before, I didn’t have just one or two fonts to import. I had 534! While I did contemplate clicking the install font button 534 times I reminded myself that I was probably over-thinking it. There must be an easier way. And here’s how easy it is:

1. Close the application you want to use the font in
2. Download your font.
3. Open a File Manager Window to your home directory and view hidden files (CTRL+H)
4. Open another File Manager Window and find the fonts you downloaded
5. Copy them into the .fonts folder
6. Open your application you want to use the font in
7. Donate to the project of your choice (optional)

After discovering how easy it was to adopt my font library I was once again reminded by my love for the simple elegance that Linux offers to my weekly workflow. It’s the same love for simplicity and elegance that had me enthralled when I discovered that fonts were a thing.


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Jacob Roecker
Jacob Roecker is an addictive hobbyist and Linux user, father of four, veteran, college student who self published three books and dabbles with media production, management, photography, videography, and long distance running.  Jacob's love for Linux comes from its versatility as a tinkering operating system.  Jacob has often found the only elegant solutions to some of his tinkering problems have come from the community behind the penguin.  

Jacob's practical about what he uses and when.  He often composes on his MacBook Pro because if he was using his Linux desktop machine full time he'd probably never get any work done because he'd be trying out one of the many cool new projects someone just published and shared with the community.  Sometimes it's good to use an OS that doesn't have as much freedom. LinkedIn

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Jordyn Carattini

I agree to the overthinking part. 🙂