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The general answer to questions about missing video codecs is to install ubuntu-restricted-extras. But that metapackage also includes the ttf-mscorefonts-installer which requires acceptance of a EULA to finish. Not everyone wants to sign the EULA, but there's no obvious way to reject the EULA. See How to reject an EULA when installing packages with apt?

Step 1Step 2

I wound up going back and forth a few times before I seemed to move on -- I think clicking Fwd, Fwd without ever accepting the EULA works, but the package is installed now, so the installation of this package was not canceled.

Does that mean I did accept the EULA? Is there somewhere I can look to see whether or not that acceptance was logged or stored?

dpkg-query clearly shows the package as installed:

amanda@mona:~$ dpkg-query -l ttf-mscorefonts-installer
| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name           Version      Architecture Description
ii  ttf-mscorefont 3.4+nmu1ubun all          Installer for Microsoft TrueType 
share|improve this question
Are you really sure that ttf-mscorefonts-installer is installed? Can you check again using dpkg -s ttf-mscorefonts-installer command? – Radu Rădeanu Feb 23 '14 at 15:17
Yup. "Package: ttf-mscorefonts-installer; Status: install ok installed" -- updated my question w/dpkg-query. Thanks. – Amanda Feb 23 '14 at 15:29
Hey, next time you install ttf-mscorefonts-installer don't forget to check the box in the EULA license terms dialogue page! You haven't checked the box for "Do you accept the EULA license terms" you just pressed forward. And frankly there are other way to install microsoft true fonts, I would stay away from "ubuntu-restricted-extras" package, it can mess up your entire system, and that is why it is better to install separate individual packages for what you need, and not a whole bunch of them at once. – Taz D. Feb 24 '14 at 8:51
@floppy Euhm, the question is about the case in which the user does not want to accept the EULA. "Don't forget to check the box" does not apply here. I also disagree with your statement about the ubuntu-restricted-extras package. You can't say something else "is better" and it really should not mess up your system in any way. If it does, then it's outside the scope of this question anyway. – gertvdijk Feb 24 '14 at 10:12
@gertvdijk Thanks. It is a little exasperating that the answer to a missing video codec problem seems to be ubuntu-restricted-extras and it was lazy of me to settle for that instead of figuring out which package in the meta package actually contained what I needed. – Amanda Feb 24 '14 at 15:08
up vote 14 down vote accepted

No you didn't accept the EULA. And no, you don't have the fonts installed, but yes, you've installed the package.

I understand that's confusing. Let me explain that.

The actual accept/reject value is written to the debconf database. It is independent of the package installation. The post-install script of the package is responsible for the fonts to be installed and prevents it if you don't accept the EULA.

To check what the value is in the debconf database, install debconf-utils Install debconf-utils, then do

$ sudo debconf-get-selections | grep 'msttcorefonts/accepted-mscorefonts-eula'
ttf-mscorefonts-installer       msttcorefonts/accepted-mscorefonts-eula boolean true

This is true for my machine, because I did accept it. For you this should be probably false.

Even if you installed the package but you did not accept the EULA, then the fonts aren't installed. Why? Because the package does not contain the font files. It downloads the fonts from an external website due to license restrictions in distribution. To prove, see the contents of the package:

$ dpkg -L ttf-mscorefonts-installer 

and that's why it's called an installer. This is ugly and totally non-standard packaging. Developers are forced to do this, because of the aforementioned licence restrictions. A similar workaround for this has been developed for Flash, packaged as flashplugin-installer Install flashplugin-installer.

After installation of the package the postinstall script, located at /var/lib/dpkg/info/ttf-mscorefonts-installer.postinst, will download and install the fonts only if the license is accepted (asked in the preinstall script). It uses the /usr/lib/msttcorefonts/update-ms-fonts application (which is part of the package) to perform the actual download and installation. Have a look at the scripts yourself; they're not rocket science at all.

share|improve this answer
You realize how cryptic this line is, yes? "the preinstall script prevents the installation if you don't install it" – Amanda Feb 23 '14 at 16:19

With installing ubuntu-restricted-extras Install ubuntu-restricted-extras you will also install the package ttf-mscorefonts-installer Install ttf-mscorefonts-installer. This package is responsible for installing restricted MS fonts.

Whenever we disagree with the Microsoft EULA by not accepting it it will not install these fonts. We can easily check this by searching for all installed font packages:


No Microsoft fonts (e.g. Arial) will be listed after we had not agreed to the EULA (and we had not manually installed an MS font by other means).

In case we want to also remove the font installer we can safely do so with

sudo apt-get purge ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Watch out for packages that depend on the mscorefonts and may then also be removed.

share|improve this answer
Ahh. "you cannot install this software" is confusing. Since what I did was install a package, I think of ttf-mscorefonts-installer as "this software". The font installer doesn't install "software" it installs fonts. A more clear error would read "you cannot install these fonts." – Amanda Feb 23 '14 at 16:18
@Amanda: yeah with this wording it has the look and feel as if it was developed by Microsoft ;) – Takkat Feb 23 '14 at 20:11
I disagree with how you support your statement that the fonts aren't installed. "dpkg -l ttf-* No Microsoft fonts will be listed after we had not agreed to the EULA (and we had not manually installed an MS font by other means)." This is untrue, because you will see the package listed in the dpkg database as installed. This is exactly what the OP is telling in the question body! " I think clicking Fwd, Fwd without ever accepting the EULA works, but the package is installed now". I do agree with your statement itself though, as you see in my answer. – gertvdijk Feb 23 '14 at 23:57
@gertvdijk: as said, the package installer will be listed as installed if we did not purge it. Edited for a better approach to check for MS fonts. – Takkat Feb 24 '14 at 7:25

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