Tag Archives: font

cp437: Turning frogs into handsome princes, since 2013

I got a note from Markus Ulfberg back in December, and his tip was such a cool little program that I’ve been holding it in reserve in hopes of showing it off properly, once I find a application that really really needs it.

The problem is that I haven’t stumbled across anything that desperately deserved its attention. And as it’s been a couple of months since Markus’s e-mail, I’ll just give it the spotlight on its own. Here’s cp437, and what it can do for you.

2015-03-03-6m47421-cp437-bitchx-01 2015-03-03-6m47421-cp437-bitchx-02 2015-03-03-6m47421-cp437-bitchx-03

At left, brand X. At center and right, cp437 with bitchx. And suddenly the glory days of ANSI graphic art have returned. What will you be drinking, sir?

I don’t know all the ins and outs of codepages or why some tools show scrambled glyphs in the terminal or the framebuffer. I’m just a lowly user, accepting life as it appears in front of my blinky-blinky cursor and learning to suffer when things aren’t gorgeous.

But cp437 manages to seamlessly and transparently convert frogs into handsome princes, and I have no better explanation than magic. It’s gotta be the shoes.

I can think of several tools that will probably benefit from cp437’s love — Markus mentions camp and duhdraw as two winners, and I’m sure there are lots more. I daresay there are even some image converter tools that would refine their art with the help of cp437.

So I’ll leave it to you to experiment — and experience — the cp437 goodness. In the mean time, I’m going to wander back through the back catalogue and see if anything suddenly changes from ugly duckling to swan, by sprinkling a little cp437 on it. … :mrgreen:

fnteditfs: A seemingly rare beast

Oddly, in all of the last 10 years of kicking through the Linux software fields, I only recall seeing one editor specific to console fonts. That, to me, makes fnteditfs a rarity. The fact that it’s included in Arch but not in Debian (that I could find) makes it all the more unusual to me.


In situations like this, where something appears in Arch but not Debian, I usually blame licensing issues. I don’t know all the ins and outs of what appears in Debian or Arch, or how it applies to fnteditfs, but I like to think that’s the issue.

Regardless, fnteditfs (which appears as fonteditfs in Community, but executes as fnteditfs :\ ) seems to be up to the task of editing, saving and loading font files, as you can see above. Such was not the case with fonter, as I remember it from years ago.

Some functions are lost to fnteditfs in its Linux rendition, which I mostly know because the home page says so. If you try to apply your edited font to the current terminal, you’ll get a reminder of that fact. Of course, it doesn’t prevent you from using setfont to change it though.

fnteditfs also seems to lack the ability to decompress font files before editing them, but won’t warn you of that fact. You can load a gzipped font file straight out of your /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/ directory if you like, but the displayed characters will be garbled. Decompress it and try again, and it should appear correctly.

I’m also a little confused by what fnteditfs shows as a displayed character, since there seem to be times when two or three characters are visible in the edit window. I don’t have much experience editing fonts though, so perhaps I am causing this peculiarity.

All those points aside, fnteditfs is quite easy to use — all its major commands are listed on the screen, navigation is with arrow keys and blocks toggle with the spacebar. Easy as pie.

I don’t see many new console fonts, and an editor seems even more rare. If there are active Linux console font designers out there in the world, I don’t know where they are or what editor they prefer.

And if you want to know, the capital letter R in the screenshot comes from the ledfont in fonter’s source code. Jam that into your favorite roguelike and really go wild. πŸ˜‰

fonter: A classic, with side benefits

Console fonts are a thing of the past, really. It’s rare to find a new console font, unless it’s just a spinoff of something intended for the graphic arena.

Short of Tamsyn, which I remember being fairly new a couple of years ago, I rarely hear about new console fonts. Of course, I don’t really go looking either.

I don’t know how to make a new font, or how the font pros do it. I suspect a long time ago, fonter was a legitimate tool.


The Freecode page for fonter looks a bit sparse, with a note from 1999 (?!) saying the project is still alive.

I have my doubts though. And while fonter would compile and run, it segfaulted at the same point on two different machines.

What’s left of it is functional, but not really usable. I couldn’t get much done with the few controls that were left to fonter.

Odd point though: Apparently fonter prefers to run in the virtual console, and not under X. I tried it in nearly every combination, just to make sure I wasn’t screwing up somehow.

But I got the same errors each time. fonter might have lost some of its practical sheen, and so I shall leave my font design career to gather dust for a while longer.

“So, K.Mandla,” you’re thinking. “Why drag out a program from the late 1990s, and show that it doesn’t quite work? You’re not really doing much that’s avante-garde here.”

Well, true in part. But you see, when you install fonter, you also get … crakrjak …


elite …


ledfont …


and sloppy.


And like I said, it’s rare to find a new tty font. πŸ™‚

So if your console adventures include something Led Zeppelin-ish (ooh! crawl with this would be … would be … trippy … yeah, man … ) or leet-ish, you’re in business. Enjoy. πŸ˜‰

Bonus: Remembering 1987

I know you Amiganauts are still out there, cuddling up to your toasters and purring about Workbench.

Let’s see how many of you are paying attention. This should bring some of you out into the sunlight:

2013-03-13-solo-2150-amigashell-01 2013-03-13-solo-2150-amigashell-02

If you remember 1987 and arguably one of the finest computers ever made, you might want to tickle your sense of nostalgia with amigashell.

To be honest, there isn’t much to amigashell except perhaps to set the font on your framebuffer and adjust the color scheme and cursor slightly. Oh, and the workbench status bar. Okay, and a ticking clock. And. …

So if it doesn’t work for you, don’t feel bad. There are other ways to get that Amiga sensation again. … πŸ˜‰

P.S.: Framebuffer only, friends. 😈