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compile fonts.alias files

see also : mkfontdir


update-fonts-alias [OPTION] directory ...

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update-fonts-alias assembles a fonts.alias file in an X font directory using one or more alias files found in a subdirectory of /etc/X11/fonts/. It is typically invoked only from the post-installation and post-removal scripts of a package containing X Window System fonts that provide aliases for their XLFD names, but may be invoked at any time to reconstruct fonts.alias files. For each directory, which is simply the last component of its path (such as ’75dpi’ or ’misc’), update-fonts-alias will assemble either /usr/lib/X11/fonts/directory/fonts.alias or /usr/share/fonts/X11/directory/fonts.alias from the files found in /etc/X11/fonts/directory/package.alias.

This enables multiple packages to provide aliases for fonts in the same directory. No font package actually provides the fonts.alias file in the X font directory itself, so there is no danger of overwriting one package’s aliases with those of another.

For instance, the two packages ’xfonts-base’ and ’xfonts-base-transcoded’ may both install fonts into the directory /usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc. They each place their fonts.alias files in /etc/X11/fonts/misc/xfonts-base.alias and /etc/X11/fonts/misc/xfonts-base-transcoded.alias (respectively). update-fonts-alias concatenates these two files (as well as any others that match /etc/X11/fonts/misc/*.alias) into /usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc/fonts.alias.

The format of fonts.alias files is described in the mkfontdir(1x) manual page.

An example of how to use update-fonts-alias in package maintainer scripts is provided in the Debian Policy Manual.


-h, --help displays a brief usage message and exits.


usage error: one or more font directories must be provided

update-fonts-alias was invoked without operands. Supply one or more X font directory names to operate on.

usage error: unrecognized option

update-fonts-alias was invoked with an unrecognized option argument. Use only the options documented in “OPTIONS”, above.

fatal error: path to X font directory must be used

A directory name was supplied that was not an X font directory name. Supply X font directory names only.

warning: absolute path
directory was provided

Usage of absolute paths is deprecated. Use only the final component of the X font directory name for directory.

warning: directory does not exist or is not a directory

The supplied directory was invalid. update-fonts-alias skipped it.



indicates the width of the terminal device in character cells. This value is used for formatting diagnostic messages. If not set, the terminal is queried using stty(1) to determine its width. If that fails, a value of ’80’ is assumed.

exit status


update-fonts-alias ran successfully.


update-fonts-alias experienced a fatal error; see the section on diagnostic messages above.


update-fonts-alias was invoked with invalid arguments.


update-fonts-alias takes one or more X font directory names to operate on as operands. Only the final path component of the directory name should be specified; e.g.,

update-fonts-alias 75dpi

is correct, while ’update-fonts-alias /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi’ and ’update-fonts-alias /usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi’ are not.


See the Debian Bug Tracking System ⟨ URL: ⟩ . If you wish to report a bug in update-fonts-alias, please see /usr/share/doc/debian/bug-reporting.txt or the reportbug(1) command.

see also

mkfontdir (1x)


update-fonts-alias was written by Branden Robinson.

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