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compile fonts.dir files

see also : mkfontdir


update-fonts-dir [OPTION] directory ...

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update-fonts-dir creates a fonts.dir file in an X font directory by invoking mkfontdir(1x) with the appropriate arguments. It is typically invoked only from the post-installation and post-removal scripts of a package containing fonts for the X Window System, but may be invoked at any time to reconstruct fonts.dir files. For each directory, which is simply the last component of its path (such as ’75dpi’ or ’misc’), update-fonts-dir will generate either /usr/lib/X11/fonts/directory/fonts.dir or /usr/share/fonts/X11/directory/fonts.dir from the fonts.scale and font files found within it.

This enables multiple packages to provide names for fonts in the same directory. No font package actually provides the fonts.dir file in the X font directory itself, so there is no danger of overwriting one package’s font names with those of another.

For instance, the two packages ’xfonts-base’ (real) and ’xfonts-nifty’ (hypothetical) may both install fonts into the directory /usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc, and update-fonts-dir will ensure that the fonts.dir file in that directory contains information about the font files provided by both packages.

The format of fonts.dir files is described in the mkfontdir(1x) manual page.

An example of how to use update-fonts-dir in package maintainer scripts is provided in the Debian Policy Manual.


-h, --help displays a brief usage message and exits.

-7, --x11r7-layout switches the font layout to the one introduced in X11R7: fonts in /usr/share/fonts/X11/directory (default is: fonts in /usr/lib/X11/fonts/directory)


usage error: one or more font directories must be provided

update-fonts-dir was invoked without operands. Supply one or more X font directory names to operate on.

usage error: unrecognized option

update-fonts-dir was invoked with an unrecognized option argument. Use only the options documented in “OPTIONS”, above.

fatal error: path to X font directory must be used

A directory name was supplied that was not an X font directory name. Supply X font directory names only.

warning: absolute path
directory was provided

Usage of absolute paths is deprecated. Use only the final component of the X font directory name for directory.

warning: directory does not exist or is not a directory

The supplied directory was invalid. update-fonts-dir skipped it.



indicates the width of the terminal device in character cells. This value is used for formatting diagnostic messages. If not set, the terminal is queried using stty(1) to determine its width. If that fails, a value of ’80’ is assumed.

exit status


update-fonts-dir ran successfully.


update-fonts-dir experienced a fatal error; see the section on diagnostic messages above.


update-fonts-dir was invoked with invalid arguments.


update-fonts-dir takes one or more X font directory names to operate on as operands. Only the final path component of the directory name should be specified; e.g.,

update-fonts-dir 75dpi

is correct, while ’update-fonts-dir /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi’ and ’update-fonts-dir /usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi’ are not.


See the Debian Bug Tracking System ⟨ URL: ⟩ . If you wish to report a bug in update-fonts-dir, please see /usr/share/doc/debian/bug-reporting.txt or the reportbug(1) command.

see also

mkfontdir (1x)


update-fonts-dir was written by Branden Robinson.

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