Linux Tip: japanese characters render with small bitmapped font

fixing japanese font issues in linux

This is the first in a series of little linux tidbits that I’ll post. They are for my own benefit, in case I ever get alzheimer’s and need to configure SAMBA or something. If these are of any interest at all to anyone else, it’s a miracle. The problem will be in this summary, the explanation and answer are “below the fold” under “more…”

Symptoms:
Japanese characters in gnome2 are renderred using a small, bitmapped font instead of beautiful kochi gothic or mincho.

Problem:
In gnome2, pango is the system that maps applications’ requests for fonts with the actual fonts. In this case, pango is returning a crappy font instead of the one we want. Specifically, it is returning fonts in /usr/share/fonts/bitmapped-fonts, which are provided by the bitmapped-fonts rpm. You can’t remove the rpm without causing trouble.

testing:
page 48 of the character map has the characters in question.

Solution:
edit /etc/fonts/fonts.conf and unspecify /usr/share/fonts. Respecify only the subdirectories that you want. fonts.conf specifies top-level directories and scans below.

then, run /etc/init.d/xfs reload, and restart all applications that you want to test.

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