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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Linux: Installing Microsoft Core Fonts on Fedora 7 Linux

Well-designed Web pages do not require specific fonts, but use generic font family specifications such as “serif”, “sans-serif”, and “monospace”, allowing users to specify which fonts on their own machines will be used for text of each style. Unfortunately, not only do many Web pages specify particular fonts by name without any generic alternative, some prescribe Windows-specific fonts which are not available, by default, to users viewing such pages on other platforms.

Users of non-Windows machines have become accustomed not only to pages designed and tested only on Microsoft Internet Explorer which fall on their face when displayed by competently implemented standards compliant browsers, but also pages which pass HTML/XHTML/CSS validation yet display infelicitously because they request and assume the availability of Windows-specific fonts.

While page designers should not, under any circumstances, require proprietary fonts for their pages and, when expressing a preference for a platform-specific font, always test that the page displays properly when the browser falls back to a generic alternative, Linux users who view pages not designed for portability can mitigate the ugliness on their screens by installing the msttcorefonts package, which includes a collection of commonly-specified Microsoft fonts which are “redistributable”, including Andalemo, Arial, Comic Sans, Courier, Georgia, Impact, Tahoma, Times, Trebuchet, Verdana, and Webdings.

Users of Fedora 7 Linux can install this package on their systems with the following commands, executed as super-user:

    cd /tmp
    wget http://corefonts.sourceforge.net/msttcorefonts-2.0-1.spec
    yum install rpm-build  # May be already installed
    yum install cabextract # May be already installed
    rpmbuild -ba msttcorefonts-2.0-1.spec
    yum localinstall --nogpgcheck \
If you do not understand what these commands do, don't try them!

After installing the new fonts, you'll have to log out and log back in (but not reboot) in order to use them when displaying Web pages.

While this may be considered as accommodating, if not enabling, designers of non-portable Web pages, the fact is that installing these fonts will make many frequently-visited sites much more legible on the screen. I wish it were otherwise, but eyestrain on your part punishes only you, not the page designer who specified a Microsoft font, so why not at least mitigate the problem on your end?

Hat tip: Little Green Footballs, where the original posting includes instructions for other Linux distributions.

Posted at May 11, 2008 23:38