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Installing fonts on NixOS

NixOS has many font packages available, and you can easily search for your favourites on the NixOS packages site.

Despite looking like normal packages, simply adding these font packages to your environment.systemPackages won't make the fonts accessible to applications. To achieve that, put these packages in the fonts.packages NixOS options list instead.

Note: for 23.05 or older, fonts.packages is called fonts.fonts instead.

For example:

fonts.packages = with pkgs; [

Be aware that sometimes font names and packages name differ and there is no universal convention in NixOS. See Guidelines for font packaging

Installing specific fonts from nerdfonts

The nerdfonts package, which contains all fonts from the nerdfonts repository is quite large and contains a large number of fonts which take some time to install. If you only need a selection of fonts from the package, you can overwrite the font selection on Stable 20.09 like so:

fonts.packages = with pkgs; [
  (nerdfonts.override { fonts = [ "FiraCode" "DroidSansMono" ]; })

This will cause NixOS to download only the Fira Code and Droid Sans Mono fonts from nerd-fonts instead of the whole package.

Imperative installation of user fonts

This is useful for quick font experiments.

Example: Install SourceCodePro-Regular.

font=$(nix-build --no-out-link '<nixpkgs>' -A source-code-pro)/share/fonts/opentype/SourceCodePro-Regular.otf
cp $font ~/.local/share/fonts
# Verify that the font has been installed
fc-list -v | grep -i source

Set multiple fonts for different languages

If you want to use other languages alongside English, you may want to set appropriate fonts for each language in your whole OS. For example, a Persian speaker might want to use the Vazirmatn font for Persian texts and the Ubuntu font for English texts. Just put these lines into your configuration.nix:

 #----=[ Fonts ]=----#
fonts = {
  enableDefaultPackages = true;
  packages = with pkgs; [ 
    # Persian Font

  fontconfig = {
    defaultFonts = {
      serif = [ "Vazirmatn" "Ubuntu" ];
      sansSerif = [ "Vazirmatn" "Ubuntu" ];
      monospace = [ "Ubuntu" ];

Use custom font substitutions

Sometimes, documents may appear to have bad kerning or hard-to-read letter spacing, due to a bad substitution. For example, Okular may show in the Document Properties dialog that it has substituted DejaVu Sans Mono (a sans-serif font) in place of "NewCenturySchlbk". fc-match NewCenturySchlbk would display similiar info.

Adding this to your /etc/nixos/configuration.nix should prompt it to use the nicer serif *Schola* font instead:

fonts = {
  packages = with pkgs; [ gyre-fonts ];
  fontconfig = {
    localConf = ''
      <!-- use a less horrible font substition for pdfs such as -->
      <match target="pattern">
        <test qual="any" name="family"><string>NewCenturySchlbk</string></test>
        <edit name="family" mode="assign" binding="same"><string>TeX Gyre Schola</string></edit>

For more information and examples on the xml configuration language:


What font names can be used in fonts.fontconfig.defaultFonts.monospace?

Those that fontconfig will understand. This can be queried from a font file using fc-query.

$ cd /nix/var/nix/profiles/system/sw/share/X11/fonts
$ fc-query DejaVuSans.ttf | grep '^\s\+family:' | cut -d'"' -f2

Note that you may need to set fonts.fontDir.enable = true; for that X11/fonts directory to exist.

Adding personal fonts to ~/.fonts doesn't work

The ~/.fonts directory is being deprecated upstream[1]. It already doesn't work in NixOS.

The new preferred location is in $XDG_DATA_HOME/fonts, which for most users will resolve to ~/.local/share/fonts[2]

Flatpak applications can't find system fonts

Enable fontDir in your NixOS configuration:

fonts.fontDir.enable = true;

Then, create a symlink in XDG_DATA_HOME/fonts pointing to /run/current-system/sw/share/X11/fonts, e. g.

$ ln -s /run/current-system/sw/share/X11/fonts ~/.local/share/fonts

Now you have two options, either allow the Flatpaks to access the font folder to use the fonts. By using the Flatpak CLI or the Flatseal Flatpak make the following directory available to all Flatpaks $HOME/.local/share/fonts and $HOME/.icons the appropriate commands for this are:

flatpak --user override --filesystem=$HOME/.local/share/fonts
flatpak --user override --filesystem=$HOME/.icons

Or allow them access the WHOLE filesystem of yours: All system files in Flatseal or equivalently filesystem=host available to your application, the command for this is:

flatpak --user override --filesystem=host

It is important to keep in mind that some flatpak apps may refuse to launch if given certain permissions, such as the Steam flatpak.

Using bindfs for font support

  system.fsPackages = [ pkgs.bindfs ];
  fileSystems = let
    mkRoSymBind = path: {
      device = path;
      fsType = "fuse.bindfs";
      options = [ "ro" "resolve-symlinks" "x-gvfs-hide" ];
    aggregatedIcons = pkgs.buildEnv {
      name = "system-icons";
      paths = with pkgs; [
        #libsForQt5.breeze-qt5  # for plasma
      pathsToLink = [ "/share/icons" ];
    aggregatedFonts = pkgs.buildEnv {
      name = "system-fonts";
      paths = config.fonts.packages;
      pathsToLink = [ "/share/fonts" ];
  in {
    "/usr/share/icons" = mkRoSymBind "${aggregatedIcons}/share/icons";
    "/usr/local/share/fonts" = mkRoSymBind "${aggregatedFonts}/share/fonts";

  fonts = {
    fontDir.enable = true;
    packages = with pkgs; [