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This is a simple how-to to help you install Android‘s fonts on your Ubuntu box. Android font‘s made for mobile devices, not only look sharp but are more space-savy than Ubuntu’s default fonts.

to-droid

This is nothing new, but since I didn’t know about it, I thought I’ll share. Installing is possible thanks to Ascender that made the fonts they designed for Android freely available.

The Droid family of fonts consists of Droid Sans, Droid Sans Mono and
Droid Serif. Each contains extensive character set coverage including
Western Europe, Eastern/Central Europe, Baltic, Cyrillic, Greek and
Turkish support. The Droid Sans regular font also includes support for
Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean support for
the GB2312, Big 5, JIS 0208 and KSC 5601 character sets respectively.
Droid was designed by Ascender’s Steve Matteson to provide
optimal quality and comfort on a mobile handset when rendered in
application menus, web browsers and for other screen text.
- Ascender Press Release, http://www.ascendercorp.com/pr/2007-11-12/

That said I’ve got some news for you:

  • Good news: the fonts already packaged in the official repositories ! :)
  • Bad news: those are present only in the repository of Jaunty :(
  • Good news: there’s no reason* to not install the Jaunty‘s package on Intrepid ! :)

*that goes only for some packages. Installing Jaunty’s packages on Intrepid will likely break your system. You’re warned not to do this with other packages.

1- Complicate Installation

If you’re on Intrepid, this is going to be difficult. Turn off the telephone and lock your children in the garage before attempting.

  • Download the ttf-droid package.
  • Double click on it to install it.

If you’re already on Jaunty make sure you have the Universe repositories enabled and:

sudo apt-get install ttf-droid
[ Kudos to Simon Ochsenreither for packaging the fonts!]

Update:

Droid fonts for Fedora [RPM] : here [source]
Droid Fonts for openSUSE [RPM]
[source]

2- Enabling the fonts

Go into System->Preferences->Appearance and select your new fonts. My preferences look like this (click the image to enlarge it):

Droid fonts set up

Your done !

Enjoy the difference, and leave me a comment to tell me if you like the fonts. As the first image of the post already shows the difference with Sans, here’s how the Droid-Monospace compares to Monospace.

Before:

Before droid

After:

Before droid

Better integration with Firefox:

One italian-loco member also suggests to skip the second ste and just create a file named .fonts.conf inside your home folder with the following content:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
<!-- ~/.fonts.conf for per-user font configuration -->
<fontconfig>
  <alias>
    <family>serif</family>
    <prefer>
      <family>Droid Serif</family>
    </prefer>
  </alias>
  <alias>
    <family>sans-serif</family>
      <prefer>
        <family>Droid Sans</family>
      </prefer>
  </alias>
  <alias>
    <family>monospace</family>
    <prefer>
      <family>Droid Sans Mono</family>
     </prefer>
  </alias>
</fontconfig>

Doing that will make your system translate every request to the standard fonts of each type (serif, sans-serif and monospace) into a request for the corresponding Droid font type. This will allow a deeper integration with the applications, changing – for example – the default fonts Firefox uses to render webpages.

I didn’t tried this, as I  prefer to use the default fonts on the webpages (mainly because, as a web developer, I need to see the page as most people see it).

In the end

The fonts look very good on my candid theme, although a little KDE-ish (I don’t know why I get this sensation).

If my first screenshot made you wonder why my menu panel is so fat, here’s its food. If it’s your Firefox to be fat here’s a good diet.

22 Responses

  1. Wade Menard

    Thanks for the tip! I didn’t realize these were already packaged in jaunty

  2. Thanks a lot. Great on my Aspire One with UNR ;)

  3. rowinggolfer

    great on the dell mini (running intrepid)

  4. Stefano Forenza

    @rowinggolfer: Dell Mini for the win ! ;-)

  5. Miguel

    Hey, thanks for the tip, it looks very nice!

  6. The Droid-Sans is really nice. But Droid-Monospace is not as nice for a terminal as the original Monospace. Although it has a cleaner look, it makes l (el) look like 1 (one) which is a pain for terminals/coding, and it’s the same size of Monospace anyway.

  7. Stefano Forenza

    @ferk: i don’t do much coding in the terminal, and anyway as l and 1 are not similar, I think it’s just a matter of abitude. So, it’s ok for me, but it’s really about personal preferences :-) . Anyway, it seems to me, you’re not alone in not-liking droid-monospace, other people don’t like it.

  8. very cool tip, tks

  9. Cool!

    When I switch UBUNTU I’ll try this trick.

  10. bruno

    Cool man. Thanks!

  11. [...] Get Android’s fonts on Ubuntu [HOW TO] This is a simple how-to to help you install Android’s fonts on your Ubuntu box. Android font’s made for mobile devices, not only look sharp but are more space-savy than Ubuntu’s default fonts. [...]

  12. Awesome. I heard someone talk about this on someone’s podcast…. I’m always fiddling with fonts, etc… Working great here…. Thanks!

  13. lukeen

    You should also set Rendering to Subpixel Smoothing on LCDs! Makes fonts sharper and better looking…

  14. Stefano Forenza

    @lukeen: ultimately, that’s a matter of preference. I don’t use Subpixel Sm. on my lcd, for example.

  15. I want to add my avatar – how to?

  16. Stefano Forenza

    @JJMacey: get an account here: http://en.gravatar.com/
    Be sure to use the same e-mail address you use to comment here.

  17. [...] page suggest that .fonts.conf sets the default fall-back fonts, and editing them is simply a matter of editing the XML tying the default name to a [...]

  18. Hi,

    I’ve got a cool Avatar, but can’t seem to login to my Gravatar account.

  19. Thanks for posting this tip.

    As a G1 owner/fetishist, I just had to have these `droid fonts on my laptop.

    Thanks!!

  20. Hi All,

    I’ve just come back to Ubuntu 9.04 from openSuse 11.1 and did this trick – looks sweat on Ubuntu 64-bit.

    Stefano – thanks!

  21. Wow, very nice tip! I also tried some other howtos from your site on my eeepc 1000h, running linux mint, and they all work great… It’s really good to save space on netbooks, hehehe :)

    Andrea

  22. Droid fonts are cool, yeah. But now exclamation marks looks strange. Kind of mixed ( with lowercase L

  23. heir4c

    ThX for the tip.

  24. Change to droid fonts made my day :) But when I upgraded to jaunty, password signs (those dots) became very small. Any ideas?

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