Starting a proprietary binary I get the following error message:

FATAL ERROR from X-windows: font not found: -*-*helvetica-bold-r-normal-*-11-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

I'm not quite experienced in handling with fonts, but as far as I understand that string -*-*helvetica-bold-r-normal-*-11-*-*-*-*-*-*-* should match a helvetica font, bold, in size 11, which should be quite a normal font.

After googling I tried the following things without result:

$ sudo xlsfonts -fn -*-*helvetica-bold-r-normal-*-11-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xlsfonts: pattern "-*-*helvetica-bold-r-normal-*-11-*-*-*-*-*-*-*" unmatched
# in case the `*` is a problem:
$ sudo xlsfonts -fn -*-helvetica-bold-r-normal-*-11-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xlsfonts: pattern "-*-helvetica-bold-r-normal-*-11-*-*-*-*-*-*-*" unmatched


$ sudo mkfontdir
$ sudo xset fp rehash

didn't help.

How can I find the problem? And how to solve it?

  • What is the file type of the font files you have? – rakslice Jul 1 '18 at 9:34
  • Good question, 6+ years later. – erikbwork Jul 2 '18 at 12:41

I couldn't find a better solution then changing the strings in a fonts.dir file to match the strings.

Assuming that the normal Courier font should be at least readable if used incorrectly, I copied all the files from the vanilla Type1 folder into a local font folder and also the lines from the Type1/fonts.dir which contained the name courier. Then I added at the end of the names string just helvetica and rehashed the font cache. Then the program could start without an error.

$ cp /usr/share/fonts/X11/Type1/c0* ~/fonthack/
$ cp /usr/share/fonts/X11/Type1/fonts.dir ~/fonthack/
$ vim ~/fonthack/fonts.dir
# editing the lines. e.g.:
# from: c0419bt_.pfb -bitstream-courier 10 pitch-medium-r-normal-0-0-0-0-m-0-adobe-standard
# to: c0419bt_.pfb -bitstream-courier 10 pitchhelvetica-medium-r-normal-0-0-0-0-m-0-adobe-standard
# removed all lines without ``courier'' in their names
$ xset fp rehash
$ ~/the_tool_i_want_to_use

Is it even installed?

fc-list | grep Helvetica

If not find the font on the web and create a .font directory in your user's home dir.

Helvetica® font family or find a Macintosh.

  • Your command doesn't list anything, but if i search for helvetica in Synaptic it says, that it's installed with the package ttf-freefont. – erikbwork Jun 12 '12 at 13:25
  • Not the same. A set of free high-quality TrueType fonts covering the UCS character set. These fonts are similar to the (in)famous Helvetica, Times and Courier fonts. – wojox Jun 12 '12 at 13:27
  • And how do I get these (in)famous fonts? (I can find Courier in fc-list, but not the others) – erikbwork Jun 12 '12 at 13:28
  • 1
    I added a link. Their not free. – wojox Jun 12 '12 at 13:37
  • Yeah, I see. There are fonts.dir files which link existing files to such a searchable string. I will just copy/paste one to have helvetica in it's name, I think. – erikbwork Jun 12 '12 at 13:41

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