Changing system fonts on Ubuntu

One of most important feature of Linux distributions over Windows operating system is customization. While Windows offer UI customization only for the color and wallpaper themes, Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora can be customized from colors and fonts to full desktop environments other than the default ones.

Windows 8 and 10 use Segoe UI font family as the default font. While there’s no standard software or way to change the font, there are some ways where the font can be changed by modifying registry files. However in Ubuntu, Fedora, LinuxMint or any common Linux OS changing the font is pretty simple task.

Ubuntu comes with Ubuntu font family as default system font. Fedora uses Cantarell font family as default system font.

Search and Download the font

First and foremost you need to download the desired font to install and use it. Commonly available font formats for desktops are TrueType and OpenType. If you do not have any idea of desired font, explore websites like Font Squirrel or Google Fonts to select and download the font.

Installing Font on Linux

There are various ways of installing new font on Ubuntu and Fedora. Individual fonts can be installed by opening font file and clicking on ‘Install’. However, many fonts like Exo have 18 styles and installing by opening can clicking in 18 files is something no one would like to do.

Hence here’s an easy way:

  1. Open File explorer and navigate to Home folder in it.
  2. Create a directory .fonts in it.
  3. Copy your fonts in that directory. If the fonts are in zipped format, unzip the archive in ~/.fonts folder. You can use separate directories for fonts within .fonts folder.

If you prefer command line, following steps would help you:

  1. Open terminal with Ctrl + Alt + T.
  2. Use mkdir ~/.fonts command to make .fonts directory inside home folder.
  3. Enter unzip '*.zip' -C ~/.fonts command to unzip and copy fonts into your .fonts directory.

Now you’ve all the fonts installed and can be used in word processors like LibreOffice. To set the installed fonts as your system font, download the tweak tool available for the particular distribution you’re running.

Unity Tweak Tool

Ubuntu versions using Unity desktop environment can use Unity Tweak Tool.

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Install ‘Unity Tweak Tool’ using command sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool. The program can also be installed via Ubuntu Software Center.
  3. Open Unity Tweak Tool from Dash or by running unity-tweak-tool command in terminal. 4 Tool, go to Appearance > Fonts. You can select fonts you would like to use here.

GNOME Tweak Tool

OS like Fedora which are using GNOME 3 desktop environment can be customized using GNOME tweak tool.

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Install ‘GNOME Tweak Tool’ using sudo yum install gnome-tweak-tool.
  3. Run Tweak Tool and change font.

GNOME Tweak Tool can be used for any Linux OS running a GNOME shell. One of my favorite fonts include Overpass by Red Hat. Red Hat is the company behind Fedora. Other fonts that I’ve tried and really look great are Cantarell and Roboto.