setfont - load EGA/VGA console screen font
] [-o font.orig
] [-ou umap.orig
] [font.new ...
] [-u umap
] [-C console
] [-v] [-V]
command reads a font from the file font.new
it into the EGA/VGA character generator, and optionally outputs the previous
font. It can also load various mapping tables and output the previous
If no args are given (or only the option -N
for some number N
then a default (8xN
) font is loaded (see below). One may give several
small fonts, all containing a Unicode table, and setfont
them and load the union. Typical use:
- Load a default font.
- setfont drdos8x16
- Load a given font (here the 448-glyph drdos font).
- setfont cybercafe -u cybercafe
- Load a given font that does not have a Unicode map and
provide one explicitly.
- setfont LatArCyrHeb-19 -m 8859-2
- Load a given font (here a 512-glyph font combining several
character sets) and indicate that one's local character set is ISO
Note: if a font has more than 256 glyphs, only 8 out of 16 colors can be used
simultaneously. It can make console perception worse (loss of intensity and
even some colors).
The standard Linux font format is the PSF font. It has a header describing font
properties like character size, followed by the glyph bitmaps, optionally
followed by a Unicode mapping table giving the Unicode value for each glyph.
Several other (obsolete) font formats are recognized. If the input file has
code page format (probably with suffix .cp), containing three fonts with sizes
e.g. 8x8, 8x14 and 8x16, then one of the options -8 or -14 or -16 must be used
to select one. Raw font files are binary files of size 256*N
containing bit images for each of 256 characters, one byte per scan line, and
bytes per character (0 < N
<= 32). Most fonts have a
width of 8 bits, but with the framebuffer device (fb) other widths can be
The program setfont
has no built-in knowledge of VGA video modes, but
just asks the kernel to load the character ROM of the video card with certain
bitmaps. However, since Linux 1.3.1 the kernel knows enough about EGA/VGA
video modes to select a different line distance. The default character height
will be the number N
inferred from the font or specified by option.
However, the user can specify a different character height H
Several mappings are involved in the path from user program output to console
display. If the console is in utf8 mode (see unicode_start(1)
) then the
kernel expects that user program output is coded as UTF-8 (see
), and converts that to Unicode (ucs2). Otherwise, a
translation table is used from the 8-bit program output to 16-bit Unicode
values. Such a translation table is called a Unicode console map
are four of them: three built into the kernel, the fourth settable using the
option of setfont
. An escape sequence chooses between these
four tables; after loading a cmap
will output the
escape sequence Esc ( K that makes it the active translation.
Suitable arguments for the -m
option are for example 8859-1
, ..., 8859-15
, ..., cp1250
Given the Unicode value of the symbol to be displayed, the kernel finds the
right glyph in the font using the Unicode mapping info of the font and
Old fonts do not have Unicode mapping info, and in order to handle them there
are direct-to-font maps (also loaded using -m
) that give a
correspondence between user bytes and font positions. The most common
correspondence is the one given in the file trivial
(where user byte
values are used directly as font positions). Other correspondences are
sometimes preferable since the PC video hardware expects line drawing
characters in certain font positions.
Giving a -m none
argument inhibits the loading and activation of a
mapping table. The previous console map can be saved to a file using the
option. These options of setfont render mapscrn(8)
obsolete. (However, it may be useful to read that man page.)
The correspondence between the glyphs in the font and Unicode values is
described by a Unicode mapping table. Many fonts have a Unicode mapping table
included in the font file, and an explicit table can be indicated using the
option. The program setfont
will load such a Unicode mapping
table, unless a -u none
argument is given. The previous Unicode mapping
table will be saved as part of the saved font file when the -O option is used.
It can be saved to a separate file using the -ou file
options of setfont render loadunimap(8)
The Unicode mapping table should assign some glyph to the `missing character'
value U+fffd, otherwise missing characters are not translated, giving a
usually very confusing result.
Usually no mapping table is needed, and a Unicode mapping table is already
contained in the font (sometimes this is indicated by the .psfu extension), so
that most users need not worry about the precise meaning and functioning of
these mapping tables.
One may add a Unicode mapping table to a psf font using psfaddtable(1)
- -h H
- Override font height.
- -m file
- Load console map or Unicode console map from
- -o file
- Save previous font in file.
- -O file
- Save previous font and Unicode map in file.
- -om file
- Store console map in file.
- -ou file
- Save previous Unicode map in file.
- -u file
- Load Unicode table describing the font from
- -C console
- Set the font for the indicated console. (May require root
- Be verbose.
- Print version and exit.
PC video hardware allows one to use the "intensity" bit either to
indicate brightness, or to address 512 (instead of 256) glyphs in the font.
So, if the font has more than 256 glyphs, the console will be reduced to 8
(instead of 16) colors.
is the default font directory.
is the default directory for Unicode maps.
is the default directory for screen
mappings. The default font is a file default
the -N option was given for some number N) perhaps with suitable extension