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I've been using (x)Ubuntu for years and have always found the selection of 100+ default fonts to be a bit overwhelming when trying to design a document in e.g. OpenOffice, Inkscape, etc. I've recently been trying to get better at understanding typography in graphic design and one of the first things I tried to do was understand some of the fonts available on my own system before installing new fonts, etc.

I'm a bit perplexed as to why Ubuntu ships with so many fonts installed (it makes it really hard to choose a good one) and why so many of these are seemingly useless pictograms (e.g. dingbats) or foreign scripts which don't seem relevant to my system default language (English). Is the idea to maintain compatibility with a wide range of documents that lack embedded fonts? What are the designers of these systems going for with such font collections?

Am I safe to bulk delete/uninstall such fonts from usr/share/fonts or will this cause problems for my system? Most of the documentation I can find deals with adding new fonts, but I think there are already too many!

As I learn more about typography, it seems like it would help me to start with a clean slate; could I safely delete most/all of the default fonts and gradually replace these with a smaller collection of my own choosing? Or again, could that cause problems with systems that depend on these default font files?

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    Many people in the world are multi-lingual, though their "system default language" might be set to English. Such people, obviously, need to view and type symbols other then latin literals. Without multiple fonts they'll see gibberish. So, I am not sure there is a philosophy, just practical common sense. – mikewhatever Sep 16 at 22:27
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I have removed many non-English fonts as you suggested in my installations, and it's worked for me EXCEPT when I visit a non-Roman-character website. Then, it's rather hard to determine what to copy to paste into a translation site.

May I suggest, after you clean house, that you run sudo fc-cache -fv to update the fonts cache?

As to why the developers make a decision, that's an entirely different issue I cannot answer, and which should be a separate question, divorced from the how to issue of discarding fonts you don't want.

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