setfont(8) — Linux manual page


SETFONT(8)                 System Manager's Manual                SETFONT(8)

NAME         top

       setfont - load EGA/VGA console screen font

SYNOPSIS         top

       setfont [-O font+umap.orig] [-o font.orig] [-om cmap.orig] [-ou
       umap.orig] [-N] [ ...] [-m cmap] [-u umap] [-C console] [-hH]
       [-v] [-V]

DESCRIPTION         top

       The setfont command reads a font from the file and loads it
       into the EGA/VGA character generator, and optionally outputs the
       previous font.  It can also load various mapping tables and output
       the previous versions.

       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 will combine
       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 8859-2.

       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).

FONT FORMATS         top

       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 bytes,
       containing bit images for each of 256 characters, one byte per scan
       line, and N bytes per character (0 < N <= 32).  Most fonts have a
       width of 8 bits, but with the framebuffer device (fb) other widths
       can be used.

FONT HEIGHT         top

       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 using the -h option.

CONSOLE MAPS         top

       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 utf-8(7)), 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.  There are four of them: three built into the
       kernel, the fourth settable using the -m option of setfont.  An
       escape sequence chooses between these four tables; after loading a
       cmap, setfont will output the escape sequence Esc ( K that makes it
       the active translation.

       Suitable arguments for the -m option are for example 8859-1, 8859-2,
       ..., 8859-15, cp437, ..., 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 displays it.

       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 -om file 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 -u 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 option.  These options of setfont render
       loadunimap(8) obsolete.

       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

OPTIONS         top

       -h H   Override font height.

       -d     Doubles the size of the font, by replicating all of its pixels
              vertically and horizontally.  This is suitable for high pixel
              density (e.g. "4k") displays on which the standard fonts are
              too small to be easily legible.  Due to kernel limitations,
              this is suitable only for 16x16 or smaller fonts.

       -m file
              Load console map or Unicode console map from file.

       -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 file.

       -C console
              Set the font for the indicated console. (May require root

       -v     Be verbose.

       -V     Print version and exit.

NOTE         top

       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.

FILES         top

              The default font directory.

              The default directory for Unicode maps.

              The default directory for screen mappings.

       The default font is a file default (or default8xN if the -N option
       was given for some number N) perhaps with suitable extension (like

SEE ALSO         top

       psfaddtable(1), unicode_start(1), loadunimap(8), utf-8(7), mapscrn(8)

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the kbd (Linux keyboard tools) project.
       Information about the project can be found at 
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a bug report for this man‐
       ual page, send it to  This page was obtained
       from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on 2020-09-18.  (At that time,
       the date of the most recent commit that was found in the repository
       was 2020-09-08.)  If you discover any rendering problems in this HTML
       version of the page, or you believe there is a better or more up-to-
       date source for the page, or you have corrections or improvements to
       the information in this COLOPHON (which is not part of the original
       manual page), send a mail to

kbd                              11 Feb 2001                      SETFONT(8)

Pages that refer to this page: psfaddtable(1)psfgettable(1)psfstriptable(1)psfxtable(1)unicode_start(1)unicode_stop(1)ioctl_console(2)console_codes(4)console_ioctl(4)vconsole.conf(5)charsets(7)loadunimap(8)mapscrn(8)resizecons(8)showconsolefont(8)systemd-vconsole-setup(8)systemd-vconsole-setup.service(8)