Something very strange is going on:

Firefox not displaying Chinese characters the right way

You will notice at the top that Openbox is displaying the characters properly on the window decoration, so it's not lack of Chinese fonts. I checked and ttf-wqy-microhei and ttf-wqy-zenhei are both installed. It's not encoding either since browser encoding matched page encoding (UTF-8). Chinese characters are either blank or a confused jumble of symbols. What is going on here?

FWIW I had this issue before installing the latest version of Firefox but it only started to bug me recently.

  • Which Ubuntu version are you using? As from Ubuntu 16.04, Noto Sans fonts should be installed by default (the fonts-noto-cjk package). Nov 28 '17 at 20:39
  • I am using 16.04 and said package is installed Dec 4 '17 at 3:30

For simplified Chinese:

  1. Go into Preferences.
  2. Go to Fonts and Colors (under the General tab).
  3. Go into Advanced.
  4. Select Simplified Chinese.
  5. Change Serif to WenQuanYi Micro Hei.
  6. Change Sans-Serif to Noto Sans CJK SC.
  7. Change Mono to Noto Sans Mono CJK SC.

These instructions apply mutatis mutandis to traditional Chinese; in this case the Noto Sans typefaces have "TC" in their names. Suit typeface selection to taste; just ensure that chosen typefaces have the requisite characters.


It could be, that some fonts to which firefox or respectively the font renderer is mapping to do not contain the required glyphs for the chinese characters. Thus maybe you could try to change the font mappings towards some font you know is complete.

This question contains a similar problem and could provide you with some direction on how to solver the problem: https://superuser.com/questions/54216/how-to-get-firefox-to-use-ms-truetype-fonts-for-helvetica-times-etc

  • How do I figure out which font is being used in the first place? Dec 4 '17 at 3:53
  • 1
    In that link I mentioned above, there's this comment: superuser.com/a/54305 Dec 4 '17 at 8:10
  • I did a little digging and found a solution. I'll answer to my OP with that solution. Dec 5 '17 at 8:49

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