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schwing 12-31-2005 12:40 PM

Asian Fonts in Firefox 1.5 as Square Boxes
I've had this problem for a while now. I have a x86 Debian Sarge install with XFree86 4.3.0. If I use Firefox (1.5) and visit a site with Asian fonts, the characters that I assume are Chinese characters show up as square boxes with 4 letters/numbers inside of them, 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom. If this doesn't make any sense, here is a small screenshot of what I see:

Square Box Fonts

What causes this? Is there something I don't have installed? Is it a Firefox setting?

At work, I use MacOSX and have Firefox 1.5 and I don't have this problem there; only on my home linux box.

Any ideas of what to try?


megaspaz 12-31-2005 12:45 PM

do you have asian fonts installed (chinese, japanese, etc...)?

if you do, sometimes some sites don't specify their charsets, so you could try to manually change the view encoding on the site and see if that works.

What's the link to the site in your screenshot?

if the site works on your mac but not on linux, my guess is you don't have any asian fonts installed.

schwing 12-31-2005 02:50 PM

Here is the link I got it from:

It's from a Google cache entry of a PDF.


megaspaz 12-31-2005 04:59 PM

Well, it comes up fine for me without having to specify the encoding. The page looks like it's supposed to be in japanese. Download japanese fonts and you should be good to go.

I don't have any links with me on where to find chinese and japanese font packs though... You'll need to do some googling for that.

Also, for pdfs, if you get the latest linux version, Asian font support should be included.

edit: google always uses utf-8 for the encoding, so you should be able to use the MS Arial Unicode font to handle different languages (i think).

schwing 01-02-2006 08:48 PM

I've just used Debian's 'aptitude' and installed every xfont package that looked like it would contain Asian fonts, but I'm still seeing those boxes. I even exited my X windows session and they are still there.

I'm also seeing these on Amazon's site as well. I did a 'view source' and found this little block of code:


<b class="price">$26.37</b> &#8194 </span>
I did a Google search and found ( that says the 8194 is a special html code for 'en space'. This page shows examples of other special characters, which all display fine in my browser, except for these 'en space' codes which still show up as blocks.

Does this give anyone a clue as to what I might be missing?


megaspaz 01-02-2006 09:07 PM

well, the thing is, I don't think firefox is doing the correct encoding for viewing, or it may be but you don't have any unicode fonts. A couple of things to try, is to try those pages with other browsers. Try that google cache page with firefox again, but manually set the encoding to UTF-8 and see if it comes up good. If it doesn't, then it's a font problem. If it does come up good, then it's a browser issue. X fonts, from my knowledge aren't unicode fonts, so you can install all the X fonts you want, but it's not going to help the problem.

Unfortunately, all the URLs where I got my fonts are gone now. I'm packaging it up and it's uploading to my host right now, but it's a 29 MB upload. I'll post a link to those fonts when it's done uploading.

Also, If you have access to MS word, copy the fonts in windows and install them in your linux box as MS Office will install unicode fonts.

megaspaz 01-02-2006 09:11 PM

There's a set of chinese and japanese fonts in that tarball. Those should get you by with chinese/japanese pages.

schwing 01-03-2006 06:56 PM

I just tried hitting the Google cache URL in Opera, Konqueror, Epiphany and Mozilla. They all showed the square boxes except for Opera. Maybe Opera has them "compiled in"???

I just downloaded your tar.gz file and will try to find how to install fonts in Debian and then post back.

Thanks for your persistence.


schwing 01-03-2006 07:14 PM

I found this link for installing fonts in Debian ( and together with your fonts everything is working great! The fonts even show up in the other browsers.

Thank you very much!


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