As someone who likes the linux virtual console and only delves into X when there are no more framebuffer programs available for doing what I want, ever since everything switched to unicode/utf8 something had been bugging me:

My font was lacking glyphs, such as «, etc.

And my programs would only show in their place or nothing at all.

So I went through every single console font I had on my system, only to find out that other fonts were then missing such crucial glyphs like the ` and which are pretty commonly used in the man-pages.

Hit the jump to learn about a workaround.

Hunting for possible replacement fonts which would contain all the glyphs I needed (— there are none!), I stumbled upon a package which is known to Debian as fonty-rg. This package contains a file named rg.fallback which is basically a substitution list which substitutes « for <, for ^ and so on. What this means is, that whenever a program wants to print a « to the screen, a < gets displayed instead.

While this is still suboptimal, it is much better than nothing or the missing glyph character.

So how do you use this replacement table? The fonty-rg package conveniently includes the two scripts utf8 and iso which act as replacements / wrappers to the old unicode_start and unicode_stop scripts. So if you had used unicode_start font-name previously, you’d just call utf8 font-name now which will take care of loading the rg.fallback file using consolechars-k-flag.

But how do you get it to use the replacement table on system startup? Debian uses a file /etc/console-tools/config to do the boot time font setup.

Open that file and look for SCREEN_FONT=. Append \ -k\ rg.fallback to that entry.


SCREEN_FONT=lat9w-12\ -k\ rg.fallback

I’ve found lat9w to be the font that best suits my needs. latin9 is the European charset. If you’ve like me always wondered about the difference between the lat9[uvw] files, (french) has a fairly good explanation of some very strange things.

The summary is that the -w-font is probably the best one ;).

12 is just my prefered font size on 1024×768, — on 1280×1024 I am using a font size of 16.