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Installing the Vista Fonts on Ubuntu

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Having recently read In the Beginning was the Command Line, Neal Stephenson’s peerless deconstruction of operating systems (slightly more nuanced than the current “I’m a PC! I’m a Mac!” “debate”), I decided it was time to do what I’ve threatened to do for years: switch to Linux.

So I did; and so far, I miss Windows very little. Except for one thing: the fonts! Specifically, the new Vista fonts. They really are quite nice for reading on the web. Simply gotta have ‘em. So here’s a method of getting them (cobbled together from other sources) that’s pretty easy to follow and which worked for me.

  1. Download the Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer.

    On other posts dealing with this topic, I saw some hand-wringing over the legality of downloading this software to a Linux-based system. I fail to see the problem. The software is free; and if Microsoft cared about what OS you were downloading it to, it would perform one of those stupid Windows Genuine Advantage checks before they let you have it. But they don’t, so go for it.

  2. Make a new folder (e.g., “ppt”) and move the EXE into it.

    If I were reading this, I’d skip this step, too. But we’re going to be unzipping a lot of files and generally creating a mess. Cleanup is much easier if you put all the files into their own folder.

  3. Use the cabextract utility to unzip the EXE.

    If you don’t have cabextract, you can install it like so:

    sudo apt-get install cabextract
    

    Then, run this command to unzip the archive:

    cabextract PowerPointViewer.exe
    

    cabextract‘ll unzip a bunch of files from the EXE, but we only have eyes for one: ppviewer.cab. (Heh heh, “pp”).

  4. Use cabextract to unzip ppviewer.cab.
    cabextract ppviewer.cab
    

    There’s a bunch of garbage in ppviewer.cab that we don’t care about, but among the detritus are our beloved fonts: Calibri, Cambria, Consolas, Candara, Constantia, and Cordelia. OK, I made that last one up. But seriously, what’s with all the fonts starting with “C”? Not to mention that they all start with either “Co” or “Ca”, which when put together spells “Coca”. Probably what the Microsoft engineers were smoking when they named these things.

  5. Copy the fonts to a “font-aware” folder.

    Decision time! The fonts now need to be copied to a folder that Ubuntu expects to find fonts in. You have two choices:

    • The .fonts folder in your home directory. (If it doesn’t already exist, create it).
    • One of the directories under /usr/share/fonts/truetype.

    The difference is that fonts copied to .fonts will only be available for you, whereas fonts copied to /usr/share/fonts/truetype will be available to anybody on the system. If you’re the only person using the machine, it probably doesn’t matter. Me, I put them into usr/share/fonts/truetype/msttcorefonts.

  6. Rebuild the font cache.

    Apparently there is something in Ubuntu called the “font cache”; like the theme registry in Drupal, you must rebuild it after adding new files, thusly:

    sudo fc-cache -f -v
    

And that’s it! You might need to restart your browser before the fonts will start showing up on pages, but other than that you should be good to go. Just remember to delete that folder with all the PowerPoint junk we don’t need (nice that it’s all in one folder now, isn’t it?).

deb package specs

Much better way is to package fonts into a deb

here are the specs:
http://pastebin.com/download.php?i=PAYJU9qi
(here is the copy http://paste.ubuntu.com/5810627/plain/ )

just save paste into filename.diff

patch -p0 < filename.diff
cd ttf-vista-fonts
chmod +x debian/rules
fakeroot debian/rules binary
sudo dpkg -i ../ttf-vista-fonts_0.0.1_all.deb

Complicated much?

Why can’t it be as simple as KDE providing a Font Management option in System Settings? You select the font, select whether its personal or system and it does the rest – couple of clicks. With everything else being simpler in GTK/GNOME/UNITY world, this procedure sure looks complicated.

Disclaimer: I am not a recent user of GTK-based desktops so my rant may be outdated.

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