Introduction to Fontconfig

The Fontconfig package is a library for configuring and customizing font access.

Package Information



The numbering system of Fontconfig is unusual. The beta versions of the package are numbered with a 9x in the last portion of the release number. This means that 2.3.92 is a beta release and the most current release is of the form 2.3.2

Fontconfig Dependencies


FreeType-2.1.10 and expat-2.0.0





If you have DocBook-utils installed and you remove the --disable-docs parameter from the configure command below, you must have SGMLSpm-1.03ii and JadeTeX-3.13 installed also, or the Fontconfig build will fail.

User Notes:

Installation of Fontconfig

Install Fontconfig by running the following commands:

./configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc \
    --disable-docs --without-add-fonts \
    --with-docdir=/usr/share/doc/fontconfig-2.3.2 &&

To test the results, issue: make check.

Now, as the root user:

make install &&
install -v -m644 doc/*.3 /usr/share/man/man3 &&
install -v -m644 doc/*.5 /usr/share/man/man5 &&
install -v -m755 \
        -d /usr/share/doc/fontconfig-2.3.2/fontconfig-devel &&
install -v -m644 doc/*.{html,pdf,txt} \
        /usr/share/doc/fontconfig-2.3.2 &&
install -v -m644 doc/fontconfig-devel/* \

Command Explanations

--disable-docs: This switch avoids building the documentation (the release tarball includes pre-generated documentation).

--without-add-fonts: This switch disables the automatic search for X Window System fonts which, if found, may confuse some applications.

--with-docdir=/usr/share/doc/fontconfig-2.3.2: Though this parameter seems counter-intuitive following the preceding parameter to the configure command, it is used so that if the builder removes the --disable-docs parameter, the documentation will be installed in a versioned directory name instead of the default /usr/share/doc/fontconfig.

Configuring Fontconfig

Config Files

/etc/fonts/* and /etc/fonts/conf.d/*

Configuration Information

The configuration file for Fontconfig is /etc/fonts/fonts.conf. Generally you do not want to edit this file. To put a new font directory in the configuration, create (or update) the /etc/fonts/local.conf file with your local information. The default location of fonts in Fontconfig is:

  • /usr/share/fonts

  • ~/.fonts

More information about configuring Fontconfig can be found in the user's manual at There are additional configuration files shipped with Fontconfig in /etc/fonts/conf.d that will be enabled if their names begin with 2 numbers, e.g., /etc/fonts/conf.d/10-autohint.conf.



X also includes an internal (and older) version of Fontconfig and unless it is explicitly disabled when building Xorg or XFree86, the internal version is created leaving two slightly incompatible libraries on your system. It is recommended that you only install one version.


Installed Programs: fc-cache, fc-list, and fc-match
Installed Library: libfontconfig.{so,a}
Installed Directories: /etc/fonts, /usr/include/fontconfig and /usr/share/doc/fontconfig-2.3.2

Short Descriptions


is used to create font information caches.


is used to create font lists.


is used to match available fonts, or find fonts that match a given pattern.


contains functions used by the Fontconfig programs and also by other programs to configure or customize font access.

Last updated on 2006-06-21 11:26:07 -0500