As in the title, all of Xubuntu is now not characters, just like vertical rectangular boxes, like it cant find the right font.

I am on Xubuntu 14.04

All was normal. Until I tried to add new fonts to GIMP.. I added fonts to /usr/share/fonts/trutype and didnt see them in gimp, so I started to just copy the NEW file folders I downloaded from google fonts into some other folders. One was /home/username/.fonts and still no updates in gimp , so I rebooted to see if that made the font appear and now the entire GUI interface has no characters and everything is empty rectangular boxes. And I mean everything. File manager, applications like Gimp are all illegible. I can only open and close due to memory of the button and menu locations.

I am able to run the browser and it is fine menu and all text is legible, its just seems like the xfce GUI that is messed up. I would rather get advice from experts than play with it any further. I'm not sure how just copying files to a folder could do this.

I did also install a font viewer app yesterday but it didn't do any good and could not install fonts like I expected. but now I can not even search for it to uninstall.

Has anyone seen this before or know how to solve or where to start?

UPDATE: I was able to remove the app I added, which was font-manager using the command line and apt-get --purge font-manager. I rebooted and same boxes everywhere. I also removed the .font.conf file which was present and linking to /home/norman/.config/fontconfig/fonts.conf. Still boxes are present after reboot.

  • The first thing I would suggest, if you haven't already, is removing the ~/.fonts folder completely and reboot. Oct 25, 2016 at 17:23
  • that did not work, same boxes. I did notice that this file exist: .fonts.conf -> /home/norman/.config/fontconfig/fonts.conf Oct 25, 2016 at 19:41
  • So what does that file contain? (You can safely remove the whole ~/.config/fontconfig folder, since it's user specific, and not part of the default configuration.) Oct 25, 2016 at 20:31
  • @GunnarH I deleted this fontconfig director and still boxes after reboot. I also logged off and back on as guest and thee wee boxes, so it seems like more than the user. Again, all i did was copy like 14 font folders into like 3 places where i thought font files should go /usr/share/fonts/trutype and /home/norman/.fonts thats about it. and install and remove the app font-manager Oct 25, 2016 at 20:54
  • I saw somewhere someone said they had same issue and got the fonts back by removing the files from /usr/share/fonts/truetype. and it worked!!! instantly all the system files are not characters, BUT, they all look a little different, even the terminal fonts changed. So now, how do I get em back to normal?? :-) Oct 25, 2016 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Assuming that you now have reset /usr/share/fonts to its original state, you may want to try these steps:

  1. Remove the ~/.cache/fontconfig folder.
  2. Run the command sudo fc-cache -fr (it will take a while to complete)
  3. Reboot.

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