I am using various old/legacy tools, such as ctwm and ical, which appear to prefer the fonts -- specifically, the font names -- returned by xlsfonts, instead of fc-list. That is, if I specify a font name output by xlsfonts, like


then ctwm and ical will use it. On the other hand, if I specify a font name output by fc-list, like


then those programs will ignore the specification and use a default font.

Unfortunately, the xlsfonts fonts are rather limited. For example, there is no "helvetica" font.

Note that I am working with a basic install of 12.04 (Precise Pangolin), with a number of application packages subsequently installed through apt-get. As far as I know, I am only using the font packages that come with that basic installation. Previously, I used 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) and had access to many more fonts (including Helvetica).

So, my questions are:

  1. Can I use the fc-list fonts with these older packages? If so, how?
  2. If I'm limited to just the xlsfonts fonts, then are there additional packages that I should install?
  3. Am I missing something fundamental about these fonts and how they work? If so, what?




They use different systems and point to different directories, I refer you to this discussion on linux.com for more explanations.

Coming back to your problem, what you want to do is that the X font system management indexes also the other folder, like the new system does.

Unfortunately this is not straight-forward.
The X system uses bitmap font formats (according to this), so in principle you cannot use .ttf files straight away.

First you have to convert them to any of the formats stated above and then you can follow that guide to add them all to the underlying X system.

Please not that I did not try it, but also this other source seems pertinent here. You probably just have to pay attention that ttmkfdir does not exists anymore and it has been replaced (a long time ago, according to this) by mkfontdir and mkfontscale.

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