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Linux Variable Fonts

The default GNOME font in Fedora – Cantarell – just wasn’t doing it for me recently and so I decided to find an alternative font. That path led me to Proxima Vara. Variable fonts are a relatively new font technology, and being Linux, I wasn’t too surprised that GNOME didn’t support this out of the box. Like most things with Linux, I guessed that there was already a solution.

Note: everything that follows is in the context of Proxima Vara, but I’d bet other fonts work the same.

First, install the font, then let’s see how the OS sees it

fc-list | grep Proxima

The result was the following (truncated to show Regular and Bold)

...
/var/home/ryan/.local/share/fonts/Mark Simonson - Proxima Vara Roman.ttf: Proxima Vara,Proxima Vara Roman:style=Regular
...
/var/home/ryan/.local/share/fonts/Mark Simonson - Proxima Vara Roman.ttf: Proxima Vara,Proxima Vara Roman:style=Bold
...

Next, using the dconf tool (install as needed) and search for “font”. For both “document-font-name” and “font-name” I used the following value

Proxima Vara style=Regular 10

Note the “style=Regular” here, that was the key to solving the problem. Also note that the “10” here is the font size I wanted to use, but you can change it to your preference.

If you use a took like (GNOME) Tweaks, it will list fonts set in this way as “none”, but I suspect that will change eventually as Tweaks comes to support variable fonts.

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