my package of the day: proggyfonts – tiny fonts for programmers and console users

(Well, it is not yet a package, but trust me: I’ll make sure it gets one.)

As a programmer or console user you might know the pain of having not as much characters on you screen as you would like to. You tried around with different fonts, it got better by reducing font size but it is not yet perfect. If I tell you, that you just have the wrong fonts you probably moan „… I tried all installed fonts“. And you are right by that: The fonts I am going to tell you about are definitely not preinstalled.

I ran into the font trouble a couple of years ago. As my eyes are quite good I yearned for a really tiny font to overflow my brain with as much content as possible on the same time. After I a while I started a research on the web and found a page that already sounds like a perfect hit: The site hosts 24 monospaced bitmap programming fonts (licensed under a free BSD-type personal license) enhanced for a small screen footprint and issues that programmers often run into like differing 0 (zero) from O (capital letter „o“).

Font comparison

The font I use is called „ProggyFont Tiny Slashed Zero“ which stands for: A real tiny font with a cleary slashed zero. To compare it to a „normal“ font let’s see it in action. Here you can see a default installed Monospace font which has been set up to a small font size:


Concentrate on the characters you see above: They blur a bit. It’s not a big deal but if you are working with it for hours it gets one. Now let’s compare the same screen with ProggyFont Tiny Slashed Zero:


See how clear the characters are? It even got smaller – you could handle one or two lines more within the same space if you would resize the window according to the previous one. What a relief!

Even more fonts

Now the example given is the most aggressive one as it is really small. You might consider other fonts as helpfull. Let me give you another example of a font: Proggy Clean (better to read as it is bigger) Slashed Zero Bold Punc – see yourself:


What have they done? They assume when you are a programmer you like characters like brackets, colons and so on being bold as the mean something in the code. Often you have to deal with interfaces that don’t mark those characters. Now the font does this for you. Nice, isn’t it? Now even cat and less show you bold coding elements without even configuring them to do so.


The site hosts the fonts in different formats. As I am lazy and is supported I only use the TTF font. To enroll a font in Gnome you have two ways depending on your Gnome version. First download a font package, unzip it, so you have file named fontname.ttf. To speak in Ubuntu versions: If you running Ubuntu Gutsy or below, open Nautilus, go to „fonts:///“ and drag and drop the ttf file into it and just restart your X session. If you have Hardy, create a directory called „.fonts“ in your home directory and copy the ttf file into it. Restart X afterwards (though not all applications depend on this).

Now open the application you want to enhace with your shiny new font. Let’s say it’s gnome-terminal. You should be able to choose a font named ProggySomething. Now you have to choose a font size and that is the only tricky thing to do: You have to find out the only possible font size. This setting might differ from application to application. In gnome-termin it is „11“ for instance which seems huge, but in fact is not. Just try it out. Under KDE or even Windows/OSX you’ll find out fast how to enroll the fonts. In fact it works, you just have to try.

So now you have a new set of fonts ready to boost your productivity. Make sure you don’t get a headache when using it and don’t crash your brain with an information overflow. I’ll report back when I packaged those fonts for a simple usage in Debian/Ubuntu.

Joining an Active Directory domain with Ubuntu

What a pain. Imagine you are in Windows network environment and have a small amount of Ubuntu desktops. You task is to let them join the Active Directory so users can login with their known credentials. There is a package in universe called „authtool“ even providing and promising to do what you need. Sadfully it is quite broken in it’s current status and if you ask me one should even consider removing it until it does at least not break you boot (don’t ask for details) and has a good set of working dependencies. There are other methods as ldap-binding but in my eyes there are either not stable or just too complicated to configure (and therefore hardly qualified for convincing people).

But a solution approaches if you read the following Ubuntu blueprint „Single User Interface to Join and Participate in Microsoft Active Directory Domains„. Currently you might not find much more information about it. So I dropped a line to the blueprint creator Gerald ‚Jerry‘ Carter who was so kind of updating me with the current status of the project (and happens to be directly involved in Likewise):

It is planned to package the open source version of Likewise called „Likewise Open“ for Ubuntu Hardy. Likewise Open enables you to join an Active Directory with actually some simple clicks or one console command. There is already an updated source tarball which can be installed quite easily:

$ wget \\
$ tar zxf likewise-open-4.0.4.tar.gz
$ cd likewise-open-4.0.4-release
$ make dpkg

If you have all necessary dependencies resolved the make process should provide you with .deb files which you should install. As Jerry states there is currently one blocker which can be worked by not using the gui but calling a line like this

$ sudo domainjoin-cli join AD_REALM ADMIN_ACCOUNT

Afterwards you should be able to login like this „realm\username“. I tried the process on Gutsy and it worked quite well. I had to reboot once as my gdm hang – maybe it’s better to call the command directly from a „real“ console. So what is missing? Check the comparison of Likewise Open and Likewise Enterprise, the commercial version of Likewise. The thing you might miss at first is:

Do more during logon: Create a home directory, copy template files, set permissions, run scripts, deliver messages, and more.

This means that Likewise Open enables you to login as AD user, creates his home under /local/AD_REALM/USER but you have be smart and hack around a bit to get things working like managing sudo, running scripts and so on. But nonetheless Likewise Open seems to be a promising approach for solving the problem of Ubuntu-Windows-network integration and I am sure to see some nice addons from the community in the future.

Please note: Installing software that changes login procedures is a deep intervention into Linux core procedures. So please: Do this with a test environment before considering it for production purposes.