Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

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Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby _grizZly_ on Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:21 am

Hi Mint Forum goers,

I've been searching around the forum for some advice on removing certain font files that I don't need (non-western fonts) from my system. The thing is because they're in the system fonts folder (`/usr/share/fonts`) I'm not sure if it's safe to delete them or not. If they're used by certain programs that are likely to complain and/or crash if I remove them then this would be bad (obviously) so having failed to find the information myself I thought I'd ask the question. Maybe someone could point me in the right direction please?

I've also looked at some font management tools in the package manager ('fontmatrix' and 'defoma') but wasn't sure if they'd do what I need -- 'fontmatrix' sounds like it's for managing font-files rather than their system integration, whereas 'defoma' sounds more like what I'd need but is for Debian systems (defoma -- DEbian FOnt MAnager) -- would defoma work on Mint?

[ -- in relation to that, am I correct in thinking that Mint is based on Ubuntu, which itself is based on Debian. So is Mint (loosely) based on and/or compatible with Debian? ]

Ideally I'd like to be able to manage a variety of custom, additional fonts for my web design projects (amongst other things) -- i.e. install/manage/organise, possibly even creating custom fonts from scratch using inkscape or something? -- Does anyone have any tips, advice and/or software suggestions for performing these tasks please?

Thanks everyone
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby xenopeek on Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:09 am

Do not delete system files manually! That includes fonts that were installed with Linux Mint... You will mess up APT that way (APT keeps track of what packages were installed and which files on your system are owned by each package). Use your package manager (Software Manager / Synaptic / aptitude / apt-get / whatever APT front-end you prefer) to remove fonts that were installed with Linux Mint.

Consider also why you are doing this. To save disk space? Don't bother :)

The following packages install files in /usr/share/fonts:
Code: Select all
cmap-adobe-japan2
cups-filters
fonts-droid
fonts-kacst
fonts-kacst-one
fonts-khmeros-core
fonts-lao
fonts-liberation
fonts-nanum
fonts-opensymbol
fonts-takao-pgothic
fonts-tlwg-garuda
fonts-tlwg-kinnari
fonts-tlwg-loma
fonts-tlwg-mono
fonts-tlwg-norasi
fonts-tlwg-purisa
fonts-tlwg-sawasdee
fonts-tlwg-typewriter
fonts-tlwg-typist
fonts-tlwg-typo
fonts-tlwg-umpush
fonts-tlwg-waree
gs-cjk-resource
gsfonts
libgs9-common
libreoffice-common
ttf-dejavu-core
ttf-dejavu-extra
ttf-freefont
ttf-indic-fonts-core
ttf-punjabi-fonts
ttf-ubuntu-font-family
ttf-wqy-microhei
vlc-data
xfonts-base
xfonts-encodings
xfonts-mathml
xfonts-scalable
xfonts-utils

To find out which package owns a file, run:
Code: Select all
dpkg -S filename

Then to find out what other files this package installed, so you can conclude if you can remove the package:
Code: Select all
dpkg -L package

For example, for the DroidSansMono.ttf file:
Code: Select all
vincent@maya ~ $ dpkg -S DroidSansMono.ttf
fonts-droid: /usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSansMono.ttf
vincent@maya ~ $ dpkg -L fonts-droid
/.
/usr
/usr/share
/usr/share/fonts
/usr/share/fonts/truetype
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSans-Bold.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSans.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSansArabic.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSansFallback.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSansHebrew.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSansJapanese.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSansMono.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSansThai.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSerif-Bold.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSerif-BoldItalic.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSerif-Italic.ttf
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid/DroidSerif-Regular.ttf
/usr/share/bug
/usr/share/bug/fonts-droid
/usr/share/bug/fonts-droid/presubj
/usr/share/bug/fonts-droid/script
/usr/share/doc
/usr/share/doc/fonts-droid
/usr/share/doc/fonts-droid/README.Debian
/usr/share/doc/fonts-droid/copyright
/usr/share/doc/fonts-droid/changelog.Debian.gz
/usr/share/lintian
/usr/share/lintian/overrides
/usr/share/lintian/overrides/fonts-droid
/etc
/etc/fonts
/etc/fonts/conf.avail
/etc/fonts/conf.avail/59-droid-serif-fonts.conf
/etc/fonts/conf.avail/60-droid-sans-mono-fonts.conf
/etc/fonts/conf.avail/65-droid-sans-fonts.conf
/etc/fonts/conf.d
/etc/fonts/conf.d/59-droid-serif-fonts.conf
/etc/fonts/conf.d/60-droid-sans-mono-fonts.conf
/etc/fonts/conf.d/65-droid-sans-fonts.conf

You can conclude this installs fonts for Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and other non-western fonts. But removing this package will also remove the western fonts.
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby _grizZly_ on Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:23 am

@Vincent Vermeulen -- Wow great answer, thanks!

As I mentioned, I just wanted to save the time it takes to trawl through font selection in text/design apps. But I guess if a lot of these fonts are used by various packages and/or installed by default then I should just leave them be.

I wonder if it's possible to remove them from the font-cache or something so that they don't show up in apps querying the cache to produce a font list, but are still available on the system (i.e. the file still exists - not deleted!) for the packages that use them (apt or whatever)?

Anyway, I realise that this must seem really fussy of me so I'm guessing the simple answer is to put up and leave well alone?!

Thanks again, amazingly helpful and detailed information!
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby xenopeek on Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:38 am

While you can exclude fonts from the font cache, by creating a local.conf file in /etc/fonts (see "man fonts.conf" for more information), this will make the fonts unavailable to all programs.

Having a look at the above packages, I think you can safely remove the following packages from your system (I tried it, no adverse effects). This will remove a lot of the non-western fonts. Impact of this may be that websites in the Arabic, Khmer, Lao, Korean, Japanese, Thai or Punjabi languages may not display correctly, though I randomly opened a few websites using these languages and they all displayed fine. Go ahead an remove them :wink:

Code: Select all
fonts-kacst             KACST free TrueType Arabic fonts
fonts-kacst-one         TrueType font designed for Arabic language
fonts-khmeros-core      KhmerOS Unicode fonts for the Khmer language of Cambodia
fonts-lao               TrueType font for Lao language
fonts-nanum             Nanum Korean fonts
fonts-takao-pgothic     Japanese TrueType font set, Takao P Gothic Fonts
fonts-thai-tlwg         Thai fonts maintained by TLWG (meta package)
fonts-tlwg-garuda       Thai Garuda font
fonts-tlwg-kinnari      Thai Kinnari font
fonts-tlwg-loma         Thai Loma font
fonts-tlwg-mono         Thai TlwgMono font
fonts-tlwg-norasi       Thai Norasi font
fonts-tlwg-purisa       Thai Purisa font
fonts-tlwg-sawasdee     Thai Sawasdee font
fonts-tlwg-typewriter   Thai TlwgTypewriter font
fonts-tlwg-typist       Thai TlwgTypist font
fonts-tlwg-typo         Thai TlwgTypo font
fonts-tlwg-umpush       Thai Umpush font
fonts-tlwg-waree        Thai Waree font
ttf-indic-fonts-core    Core collection of free fonts for languages of India
ttf-punjabi-fonts       Free TrueType fonts for the Punjabi language
ttf-wqy-microhei        A droid derived Sans-Seri style CJK font

You can remove these packages in one go with the following command (it is one line, though it is displayed wrapped here):
Code: Select all
sudo apt-get --purge autoremove fonts-thai-tlwg fonts-kacst fonts-kacst-one fonts-khmeros-core fonts-lao fonts-nanum fonts-takao-pgothic fonts-tlwg-garuda fonts-tlwg-kinnari fonts-tlwg-loma fonts-tlwg-mono fonts-tlwg-norasi fonts-tlwg-purisa fonts-tlwg-sawasdee fonts-tlwg-typewriter fonts-tlwg-typist fonts-tlwg-typo fonts-tlwg-umpush fonts-tlwg-waree ttf-indic-fonts-core ttf-punjabi-fonts ttf-wqy-microhei

To add new fonts to your system from downloaded files, open the .ttf file and click "Install Font". It will put a copy in the .fonts folder in your home folder (press Ctrl+H in your file browser to see hidden folders like these). You can delete them there to remove them again. Every 30 seconds the fontconfig rescans this folder and adds found fonts to the font cache, making them automatically available to your programs.

You can probably use some font management program (fontmatrix?) instead of mucking about in hidden folders, but I have no experience with that. You may have guessed by now I'm more of a "command line" kind of guy.

You may also want to add common Microsoft Windows fonts, which are freely available. You can do so by installing the ttf-mscorefonts-installer package.
Code: Select all
sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

You will have to accept the EULA. To do so, press Tab to highlight an option and press Enter to accept.

Happy hacking :D
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby marko_s on Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:05 pm

I have uninstalled several fonts I was not going to use with the Synaptic package manager in both Ubuntu and Mint, with no adverse effects as far as I can tell. I did this mainly to unclutter LibreOffice's font selection box.

I think one way to use your own custom and/or downloaded Truetype fonts is to make a hidden folder called .fonts in your home directory (notice the dot!) and unpack your extra fonts there (although this won't make the fonts available to all users).

EDIT: I didn't read Vincent's suggestion above... :) Does Mint have the hidden .fonts folder as a default or will the "Install Font" thingie make it automatically? My tip is from a few years back when you apparently had to make the .fonts folder yourself :lol:

You can hide/unhide hidden files in Nautilus/Caja with CTRL+H.

I know this works in Ubuntu, not sure about Mint though :D
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby xenopeek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:07 pm

marko_s wrote:EDIT: I didn't read Vincent's suggestion above... :) Does Mint have the hidden .fonts folder as a default or will the "Install Font" thingie make it automatically? My tip is from a few years back when you apparently had to make the .fonts folder yourself :lol:

The "Install Font" button does this automagically for you :wink:
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby marko_s on Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:57 am

Vincent Vermeulen wrote:The "Install Font" button does this automagically for you :wink:


Hmm, I didn't know that one :) Well whaddayouknow, I've been all-Linux for 4 years now and I still keep learning new things :lol:
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby terryl on Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:52 pm

hi, sorry to bump this thread up again. I am trying to remove ttf-wqy-microhei package using synaptic. Upon selecting for removal, it shows that this will remove mint-meta-mate. Other non Western fonts (except Thai ones, which I do use) can be removed without affecting dependencies.

As my signature says, i love my Mate desktop. Why would removing this Chinese wqy font family affect what seems to be a core desktop environment? How can i remove this safely?
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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby MtnDewManiac on Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:48 pm

terryl wrote:hi, sorry to bump this thread up again. I am trying to remove ttf-wqy-microhei package using synaptic. Upon selecting for removal, it shows that this will remove mint-meta-mate. Other non Western fonts (except Thai ones, which I do use) can be removed without affecting dependencies.

As my signature says, i love my Mate desktop. Why would removing this Chinese wqy font family affect what seems to be a core desktop environment? How can i remove this safely?


Hello terryl,

I am by no means a linux expert, simply someone who has been using it for a few years now. So I do not have a solution to your question (or for the OP's question, for that matter). I only wanted to state that:

It has been my experience that when Synaptic warns me that the action I am about to make it perform will force it to remove other things...

...it aint lying, lol.

Experience gained mainly from using Ultimate Edition linux and trustingly clicking on that "handy" Upgrade button in Update Manager (if you ever happen to use UE and see this button appear one day, clicking on it is a Very Bad Idea unless you are itching to downgrade your system to Ubuntu and are prepared to start loving all things brown. But I also noticed it when I installed a recipe manager (I cannot remember if it was Gourmet or the other one) and it informed me that it'd have to remove a completely unrelated (non-recipe, non-cooking, non-kitchen even, lol) app. I thought, "That can't be right," but, yeah, it was - and it did. Part of the price one pays for running a "modular" OS, I suppose, where each application isn't completely a separate bloated thing, but instead has just the unique parts and depends on "borrowing" the use of little files that are common to several different apps.

IOW, if Synaptic suggests against removing something, and you don't have a valid reason for doing so over and above "I just want to" then my suggestion would be to leave it be. Especially if you are only doing it because, say, you wish to shorten your font list in an application by one. A page of them, sure, I can see that. But I find it is easier to hit the down-arrow an extra time than to try to figure out how to fix what I insisted that Synaptic broke. YMMV, of course, as in all things....

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Re: Is it safe to remove all non-western fonts?

Postby xenopeek on Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:31 am

terryl wrote:I am trying to remove ttf-wqy-microhei package using synaptic. Upon selecting for removal, it shows that this will remove mint-meta-mate.

If you look at the package mint-meta-mate (try saying that 3 times fast :shock:), you can see that it installs a lot of packages. Some of those are fonts, like the one you are trying to remove. mint-meta-mate is a so-called meta package, that doesn't have any files of its own but only carries dependencies to other packages. There is no direct harm in removing it, as it will not remove any files from your system.
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