Obtaining Third Party Fonts

You may be satisfied with the selection of fonts available with your Linux distribution. If not, you must track down and install additional fonts. Fortunately, Linux can use most of the same fonts available for Windows, so obtaining new fonts is fairly straightforward. Some common sources of additional fonts include:

Commercial Font CD-ROMs Many commercial font CD-ROMs are available in computer stores. Some of these CD-ROMs include very high-quality fonts from reputable font foundries, such as Adobe or Bitstream; but others are little more than amalgamations of freeware fonts collected from random websites.

Software Packages Many software packages ship with font collections. This is particularly true of commercial word processors and graphics packages. In fact, you might want to peruse the closeout bin at your local computer store for old versions of graphics packages that come with good font collections. Even if you don't need the software, the fonts may be useful to you.

Web and FTP Sites A wide variety of web and FTP sites deliver fonts. These fonts may be commercial, shareware, or freeware. One particularly large archive of free fonts is the one maintained by the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN; http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/fonts/). The MyFonts site, http://www.myfonts.com, is an excellent resource if you're looking for a particular commercial font or want to find a font that matches one you've seen elsewhere.

Note Macintosh Type 1 and TrueType fonts contain the same data as Windows Type 1 and TrueType fonts, but the file formats are different. Linux can easily use Windows-style outline font files, but fonts for Macintoshes must be converted to Windows format first. Many font CD-ROMs come with both Windows and Macintosh versions of the fonts. If you mount the CD-ROM in Linux using the iso9660 filesystem type code, you'll automatically access the Windows fonts.

Sometimes the lines between these font sources can be blurred; for instance, you may be able to purchase individual fonts from a commercial website or buy a CD-ROM with many fonts. Many of the fonts shipped with Linux distributions are also available from websites or FTP sites.

One tool that can be particularly helpful in dealing with flaky fonts or fonts that ship in the wrong format is PfaEdit (http://pfaedit.sourceforge.net). This program is an outline font editor for Linux. It can read Type 1 and TrueType fonts in either Windows or Mac OS files, and can write files to all of these formats. Therefore, PfaEdit can be a useful tool for converting fonts between formats. As a font editor, the program can also change font names, attributes, and so on, which can be handy if a font is misbehaving or is misidentified by other font tools.

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