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A simple library to find and download fonts for Windows, Linux and Mac.


Install it directly as:

gem install fontist

Or use it as part of your bundle by adding this line to your application’s Gemfile:

gem "fontist"

And then execute:

bundle install

Fetch formulas

After installation, please fetch formulas via the fontist command:

fontist update


Depends on ffi-libarchive-binary which has the following requirements:

  • zlib

  • Expat

  • OpenSSL (for Linux only)

These dependencies are generally present on all systems.

Using the command-line interface (CLI)

The fontist command

These commands makes possible to operate with fonts via command line.

The CLI properly supports exit status, so in a case of error it returns a status code higher or equal than 1.

Searches are case-insensitive for ease of use.

All commands support the following global options:


Search using the “preferred family” name of a font. (instead of the “default family” name, the default prior to Fontist v1.10.)

See To v1.10+ for the differences between “preferred family” and “default family”.
-q, --quiet

Print as little information as possible, mostly critical errors.

-v, --verbose

Set the log level to debug. It prints formulas excluded during installation and information for developers of fontist.

-c, --no-cache

Prefer direct download even when a file is already cached in a system.

Install fonts: fontist install

Fontist checks whether this font is already installed, and if not, then installs the font and returns its installed paths.

The font name is the only argument to be supplied.

$ fontist install "segoe ui"
These fonts are found or installed:
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUI.TTF
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUIB.TTF
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUII.TTF
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUIZ.TTF

By default, all matching styles (according to the font’s “default family” name) are installed.

Prior to v1.10, the font’s “preferred family” name is used to match styles for search. See To v1.10+ for details of that change.

To install all fonts specified in a Fontist formula, use the -F, --formula option.

$ fontist install --formula 'courier_prime'
Downloading font ...
Installing font "courier_prime".
Fonts installed at:
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/Courier Prime Bold Italic.ttf
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/Courier Prime Bold.ttf
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/Courier Prime Italic.ttf
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/Courier Prime.ttf

Here, courier_prime is the filename of the formula located at the public Fontist Formula repository (courier_prime.yml).

You can also specify the human-readable name of the formula. This name is derived from the filename, with underscores replaced by spaces. It’s not case-sensitive, meaning you can use capital letters if you prefer.

$ fontist install --formula "Courier Prime"
$ fontist install --formula "Google/Noto Sans"

Installation by the formula name supports suggestions in CLI when input is partial:

$ fontist install --formula 'noto s'
Formula 'noto s' not found. Did you mean?
[0] Google/Noto Sans
[1] Google/Noto Serif
Please type number or press ENTER to skip installation:
Specifying the font’s filename is not supported yet.

If there are several formulas with a requested font, then fontist searches for the newest version of the font among formulas with size below a limit (300 MB). This behavior can be changed with options.

If styles of a font are spread among several formulas, then all available styles from all formulas would be installed.
Some formulas may have the min_fontist attribute, which defines the minimum version of fontist by which they can be installed. If fontist is of a older version, then the formula is avoided to use. In order to see which formulas were excluded from the search, the -v, --verbose option can be specified.

Supported options:

-f, [--force]

Install even if already installed in system

-F, [--formula]

Install whole formula instead of a font

-a, [--accept-all-licenses]

Accept all license agreements

-h, [--hide-licenses]

Hide license texts

-p, [--no-progress]

Hide download progress

-V, [--version=VERSION]

Install particular version of a font

-s, [--smallest]

Install the smallest font by file size if several

-n, [--newest]

Install the newest version of a font if several

-S, [--size-limit=N]

Specify upper limit for file size of a formula to be installed (default is 300 MB)

-u, [--update-fontconfig]

Update Fontconfig

The install command is similar to the Font.install library call.

Uninstall fonts: fontist uninstall

Uninstalls any font supported by Fontist.

Returns paths of an uninstalled font, or prints an error telling that the font isn’t installed or could not be found in Fontist formulas. Aliased as remove.

$ fontist uninstall "segoe ui"
These fonts are removed:

Status: fontist status

Prints installed font paths with a corresponding formula.

$ fontist status "segoe ui"
Fonts found at:
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUII.TTF (from segoe_ui formula)
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUIZ.TTF (from segoe_ui formula)
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUIB.TTF (from segoe_ui formula)
- /Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUI.TTF (from segoe_ui formula)

List: fontist list

Lists installation status of fonts supported by Fontist.

$ fontist list "segoe ui"
 Segoe UI
  Regular (installed)
  Bold (installed)
  Italic (installed)
  Bold Italic (installed)
$ fontist list "roboto mono"
 Roboto Mono
  Regular (not installed)
  Italic (not installed)

List installed font paths: fontist manifest-locations

Returns locations of fonts specified in a YAML file as an input.

$ fontist manifest-locations MANIFEST_FILE

MANIFEST_FILE is the location of a manifest file that contains specification of one or multiple font and font styles.

A manifest file manifest.yml could look like:

Segoe UI:
- Regular
- Bold
Roboto Mono:
- Regular

The following command will return the following YAML output:

$ fontist manifest-locations manifest.yml
Segoe UI:
    full_name: Segoe UI
    - "/Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUI.TTF"
    full_name: Segoe UI Bold
    - "/Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUIB.TTF"
Roboto Mono:
    full_name: Roboto Mono Regular
    - "/Users/user/.fontist/fonts/RobotoMono-VariableFont_wght.ttf"

If one or more of requested fonts are missing, the "3" error code would be returned, and a message printed:

$ fontist manifest-locations manifest.yml
'Roboto Mono' 'Regular' font is missing, please run `fontist install 'Roboto Mono'` to download the font.
$ echo $?

Install fonts from manifest: fontist manifest-install

Install fonts from a YAML Fontist manifest:

$ fontist manifest-install --confirm-license manifest.yml

Where manifest.yaml is:

Segoe UI:
    full_name: Segoe UI
    - "/Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUI.TTF"
    full_name: Segoe UI Bold
    - "/Users/user/.fontist/fonts/SEGOEUIB.TTF"
Roboto Mono:
    full_name: Roboto Mono Regular
    - "/Users/user/.fontist/fonts/RobotoMono-VariableFont_wght.ttf"

Work with fontist config: fontist config

Fontist supports system-wide settings for the following parameters:


Sets path where to install fonts (default: ~/.fontist/fonts)


Sets timeout for opening a connection during download (default: 10)


Sets timeout for reading the opened connection during download (default: 10)

Show current attributes in the config:

$ fontist config show
Current config:
read_timeout: 5

Assign a value to an attribute:

$ fontist config set read_timeout 60

Restore a default value of an attribute:

$ fontist config delete read_timeout

Work with Fontconfig: fontist fontconfig

Fontconfig is a software designed to provide fonts to other programs. It is typically used on Linux, but also available on macOS and Windows. Fontconfig is used by LibreOffice, GIMP, and many other programs.

It order to find fontist fonts, Fontconfig should be updated to include fontist paths. It can be done with the --update-fontconfig option of the install command, or by calling a special one:

$ fontist fontconfig update

It would create a config in ~/.config/fontconfig/conf.d/10-fontist.conf.

To remove it, please use:

$ fontist fontconfig remove

Work with cache

$ fontist cache clear

The command above will clear fontist’s download cache

Help: fontist help

List of all commands could be seen by:

fontist help

Configuration with environment variables

By default Fontist uses the ~/.fontist directory to store fonts and its files. It could be changed with the FONTIST_PATH environment variable.

FONTIST_PATH=~/.fontist_new fontist update

Using the Ruby library


The Fontist::Font is your go-to place to deal with any font using Fontist.

This interface allows you to find a font or install a font.

Finding a font

The Fontist::Font.find interface can be used a find a font in your system.

It will look into the operating system specific font directories, and also the fontist specific ~/.fontist directory.

  • If Fontist finds a font, then it will return the paths.

  • Otherwise, it will either raise an unsupported font error, or trigger display of installation instructions for that specific font.

Install a font

The Fontist::Font.install interface can be used to install any supported font.

This interface first checks if you already have that font installed or not and if you do then it will return the paths.

If you don’t have a font but that font is supported by Fontist, then it will download the font and copy it to ~/.fontist directory and also return the paths.

Fontist::Font.install(name, confirmation: "no")

If there are issues detected with the provided font, such as the font is not supported, those errors would be raised.

List all fonts

The Fontist::Font interface exposes an interface to list all supported fonts.

This might be useful if want to know the name of the font or the available styles. You can do that by using:

The return values are OpenStruct objects, so you can easily do any other operation you would do in any ruby object.


The fontist gem internally usages the Fontist::Formula interface to find a registered formula or fonts supported by any formula. Unless, you need to do anything with that you shouldn’t need to work with this interface directly. But if you do then these are the public interface it offers.

Find a formula

The Fontist::Formula.find interface allows you to find any of the registered formula. This interface takes a font name as an argument and it looks through each of the registered formula that offers this font installation. Usages:


This method will search and return a Fontist formula for the provided keyword which allows for further processing, such as license checks or proceeding with installation of the font in your system.

List font styles supported by a formula

Normally, each font name can be associated with multiple styles or collection, for example the Calibri font might contains a regular, bold or italic styles fonts and if you want a interface that can return the complete list then this is your friend.

You can use it as following:


List all formulas

The Fontist::Formula interface exposes an interface to list all registered font formula. This might be useful if want to know the name of the formula or what type fonts can be installed using that formula. Usages:

The return values are OpenStruct objects, so you can easily do any other operation you would do in any ruby object.


Global options

Fontist can be switched to use the preferred family names. This format was used prior to v1.10.

Fontist.preferred_family = true


Fontist lets you find font locations from a defined manifest Hash in the following format:

  "Segoe UI"=>["Regular", "Bold"],
  "Roboto Mono"=>["Regular"]

Calling the following code returns a nested Hash with font paths and names. Font name is useful to choose a specific font in a font collection file (TTC).

  "Segoe UI"=> {
      "full_name"=>"Segoe UI",
      "full_name"=>"Segoe UI Bold",
  "Roboto Mono"=> {


Fontist lets you not only to obtain font locations but also to install fonts from the manifest:

Fontist::Manifest::Install.from_hash(manifest, confirmation: "yes")

It will install fonts and return their locations:

  "Segoe UI"=> {
      "full_name"=>"Segoe UI",
      "full_name"=>"Segoe UI Bold",
  "Roboto Mono"=> {
      "full_name"=>"Roboto Mono Regular",

Support of YAML format

Both commands support a YAML file as an input with a from_file method. For example, if there is a manifest.yml file containing:

Segoe UI:
- Regular
- Bold
Roboto Mono:
- Regular

Then the following calls would return font names and paths, as from the from_hash method (see Fontist::Manifest::Install and Fontist::Manifest::Locations).

Fontist::Manifest::Install.from_file("manifest.yml", confirmation: "yes")


Fontist supports work with Fontconfig via the Ruby interface:

Fontist::Fontconfig.update              # let detect fontist fonts
Fontist::Fontconfig.remove              # disable detection
Fontist::Fontconfig.remove(force: true) # do not fail if no config exists

Platform-specific features

macOS-specific add-on fonts

Newer versions of macOS provide on-demand installations of a wide range of licensed fonts. These macOS-specific add-on fonts can be installed via Fontist.

A typical use for installing macOS add-on fonts is to allow CI jobs on macOS environments to use these specially-licensed fonts not available on other platforms.

This blog post describes how this works:

For example, the "Canela" font is a commercial font that comes free with macOS.

Run this command to install Canela on macOS.

$ fontist install Canela

The full list of available fonts on various macOS versions can be found on the Apple Support site:

Fontist does not allow installing macOS-specific fonts on non-macOS platforms due to font license restrictions of those fonts.

Known problematic fonts

The full list of known problematic fonts:

Advanced usage

Using proxy servers

Fontist uses Git internally for fetching formulas and fonts.

In order to use Git functionality behind a proxy, you need to update your own Git config via the git config command or the ~/.gitconfig preference file.

There are many ways to configure your local Git install to use proxies.

The simplest, global way of setting a proxy for Git is the following.

  • For HTTP

    git config --global http.proxy http://{user}:{pass}@{proxyhost}:{port}
  • For HTTPS, you may need to handle SSL/TLS verification errors after setting the proxy since the encryption end is located at your HTTPS proxy endpoint:

    git config --global http.proxy https://{user}:{pass}@{proxyhost}:{port}
    git config --global https.proxy https://{user}:{pass}@{proxyhost}:{port}
  • For SOCKS, you will need to decide on the SOCKS protocol

    git config --global http.proxy '{protocol}://{user}:{pass}@{proxyhost}:{port}'
    git config --global https.proxy '{protocol}://{user}:{pass}@{proxyhost}:{port}'

    For example,

    git config --global http.proxy 'socks5h://'
    git config --global https.proxy 'socks5h://'

The list of supported SOCKS protocols for the {protocol} field:

  • socks://: for SOCKS below v5

  • socks5://: for SOCKS v5

  • socks5h://: for SOCKS below v5 + host resolution via SOCKS

You could actually set different proxy behavior for individual Git repositories — please see this great guide on how to use Git proxies (thanks to the GitHub user evantoli).

Custom Fontist repositories


A Fontist repository is a Git repo which contains YAML Formula files. Fontist Formulas can be created manually within a Fontist repository (see examples), or auto-generated from a font archive.

A Fontist repository can be accessed either through HTTPS or SSH. In case of SSH, a corresponding SSH key should be setup with ssh-agent in order to access this custom repository.

Registering a Fontist repository

The fontist repo setup command fetches a custom repository’s formulas, and stores the repository’s name and URL for later use.

The fontist repo setup command uses the following syntax.

fontist repo setup NAME URL

Internally, all custom Fontist repository information is stored at ~/.fontist/formulas/Formulas/private.

For example, given a Fontist repository called "acme" accessible via a URL or an SSH address:

fontist repo setup acme
# or
fontist repo setup acme

Listing custom Fontist repositories

fontist repo list

Installing fonts from a Fontist repository

Once the custom Fontist repository is setup, one can install fonts from the repo through its formulas:

fontist install "custom font"

Updating a registered Fontist repository

If the custom Fontist formula repository is updated, the repo update command is used to pull the newest changes:

fontist repo update NAME

For example, given a Fontist repository called "acme", the following command is used.

fontist repo update acme

Removing a registered Fontist repository

If there is a need to remove a registered Fontist repository, the repo can be removed with:

fontist repo remove acme

Private access

Custom Fontist formulas and Fontist repositories can be made private to require authentication.

For HTTPS and SSH Git Fontist repositories

Authentication for private formulas or private formula repositories

Authorization of private archives in private formulas can be implemented with headers.

Here is an example which works with Github releases:

    - url:
        Accept: application/octet-stream
        Authorization: token ghp_1234567890abcdefghi

If the Fontist formula repository is a GitHub repo, a token can be obtained on the GitHub Settings > Tokens page. This token should have at least the repo scope for access to these assets.

Create Fontist formulas


Fontist formulas can be easily hand-crafted in YAML. However, the auto-generation method is recommended for data accuracy and convenience.

Auto-generate a Fontist formula from a font archive

A formula could be generated from a fonts archive.

The fontist create-formula command allows detecting all font files from a font archive in a multitude of formats (those supported by Excavate, including zip, 7z, gzip, tar, cab, exe).

The fontist create-formula command supports archives located at remote URLs or local file paths.

For file paths, specify the file path as argument:

fontist create-formula

For URLs, simply specify the URL as the argument:

fontist create-formula
# > file created at lato.yml because the file downloaded is

To test out the created formula, one may copy the formula into the user’s private formula repository location.

fontist create-formula
cp lato.yml ~/.fontist/formulas/Formulas/

Overriding font metadata in Fontist formulas

The fontist create-formula command creates font formulas using information embedded in the OTF metadata section.

However, some fonts (such as older fonts) often contain inconsistent or imperfect metadata information. Some fonts for example applies different OTF Family values for different font styles. This will result in all font styles not being registered in the same Family.

Fontist formula authors can rectify this situation by using the override: key, which allows the formula to override metadata information obtained from the font metadata.

The override key does not cause any change in the font files, it is only for updating information used by Fontist internally.

The override key exists under the definition of individual font styles:

- name: Original font name
    - family_name: Original family name
      type: Original style
        family_name: Overridden family name
        type: Overridden style
        preferred_family_name: Overridden preferred family name

For example, the "Frutiger" fonts published by Adobe in 1994 use numbers to represent the individual font styles, and have those names embedded in the OTF Family field, such as "Frutiger 45 Light". These fonts also do not use the OTF Preferred Family field, which is a more recent addition to OTF, due to their age.

Here is how the override property can enforce all relevant styles to be registered under the same family name (by overriding the preferred_family_name value):

- name: Frutiger 45 Light
  - family_name: Frutiger 45 Light
    type: Regular
    full_name: Frutiger-Light
    post_script_name: Frutiger-Light
      preferred_family_name: Frutiger
  - ...

This fragment above will allow Fontist to generate correct indexes and allow installation of all Frutiger fonts with a single command:

$ fontist install "Frutiger" --preferred-family

Upgrading Fontist

To v1.10+

Fontist versions beyond v1.10 utilize a new formula format. After the upgrade, please run fontist update to fetch the latest formulas.

Starting from v1.10, Fontist uses the “default family” instead of the “preferred family” when grouping styles.

For example, a request for the “Lato” font prior to v1.10 will return all styles: “Black”, “Black Italic”, “Bold”, and 15 other styles.

From v1.10 onwards, Fontist will return only the 4 default styles: “Regular”, “Italic”, “Bold” and “Bold Italic”.

In order to fetch other styles, you have to specify the exact font “subfamily”, such as “Lato Black”, or “Lato Heavy”, or use the --preferred-family option with CLI and Fontist.preferred_family = true with the Ruby library.

Prior to v1.10 there was a bug with the “Courier” font formula, which allowed the font to be installed when requesting the font name “Courier”, but its font location was only obtainable using the full “Courier New” font name. From v1.10 onwards the behavior has been made consistent — only the proper “Courier New” name should be used.

To v1.16+

Fontist versions beyond v1.16 treats the font argument of the install command differently. After the upgrade, please ensure all required fonts are specified when using fontist install, fontist manifest-install (and their corresponding Ruby interface Font.install and Manifest::Install), or use the -F, --formula option.

Starting from v1.16, Fontist installs only requested fonts instead of a whole formula, unless specified explicitly. changed now.

For example, an installation request for the “Arial” font prior to v1.16 will setup all fonts found in the “ms_truetype” formula: “Arial”, “Trebuchet MS”, “Verdana” and “Times New Roman”.

From v1.16 onwards, Fontist will install only the requested “Arial” font.

To install all fonts from a formula, the -F, --formula option can be used:

$ fontist install --formula ms_truetype

Maintenance (for Fontist maintainers only!)

This section is only for Fontist maintainers.

Formulas versioning

To add a new attribute, change how formula is treated or completely replace the structure, there are 2 ways to change a formula format:

  1. Use the min_fontist attribute in a formula. It sets a requirement for fontist to install the formula only if its version is equal or more than a specified version.

  2. Use a new branch in the formulas repo, e.g. "v2", "v3", "v4", etc. After creating a new branch, it should be defined in Fontist.formulas_version

Using a new branch would require all users to re-download the entire formulas repo. Since this method has a significant overhead, the former one (min_fontist) should be used whenever possible.

Dynamically importing formulas from Google Fonts

Google Fonts provides probably the largest collection of widely-used, freely and openly licensed fonts.

Fontist’s formula library includes support for all openly-licensed fonts provided through Google Fonts, and maintains Fontist formulas for all such fonts.

A GHA workflow checks for updated fonts on Google Fonts daily. In case an update is found, it’s added to the repo by the workflow.

Dynamically importing formulas from SIL

SIL International is an internationally recognized faith-based nonprofit organization that serves language communities worldwide.

SIL provides a number of unique fonts that support smaller language communities that with Unicode code often not (yet) supported by mainstream fonts.

Fontist aims to support all SIL fonts and provides their formulas in the default Fontist formula repository.

They can be updated with:

fontist import sil
cd ~/.fontist/versions/{last_version}/formulas
git add Formulas/sil
git commit -m "SIL fonts update"
git push

Dynamically importing formulas from macOS

macOS provides fonts which can be manually downloaded with Font

To update macOS formulas:

fontist import macos
cd ~/.fontist/versions/{last_version}/formulas
git add Formulas/macos
git commit -m "Update macOS formulas"
git push



Clone the repository.

git clone

Setup your environment.


Run the test suite


Formula storage

All official Fontist formulas are kept in the formulas repository.

If you’d like to add a new formula repository or change settings for an existing one, please refer to its documentation.


Releasing is done automatically with GitHub Actions. Just bump and tag with gem-release.

For a patch release (0.0.x) use:

gem bump --version patch --tag --push

For a minor release (0.x.0) use:

gem bump --version minor --tag --push


First, thank you for contributing! We love pull requests from everyone. By participating in this project, you hereby grant Ribose the right to grant or transfer an unlimited number of non exclusive licenses or sub-licenses to third parties, under the copyright covering the contribution to use the contribution by all means.

We are following Sandi Metz’s Rules for this gem, you can read the description of the rules here. All new code should follow these rules. If you make changes in a pre-existing file that violates these rules you should fix the violations as part of your contribution.

Here are a few technical guidelines to follow:

  1. Open an issue to discuss a new feature.

  2. Write tests to support your new feature.

  3. Make sure the entire test suite passes locally and on CI.

  4. Open a Pull Request.

  5. Squash your commits after receiving feedback.

  6. Party!


This gem is developed, maintained and funded by Ribose.