I recently installed context on my laptop running Debian unstable. The version of context is 2017.05.015 and I installed it using apt.

My intention is to use system fonts in my generated documents, so i followed the instructions provided on the context website (http://wiki.contextgarden.net/simplefonts).

  • I set an environment variable in my .zshrc (i use zsh): export OSFONTDIR=~"/usr/share/fonts//;/usr/local/share/fonts//;~/.fonts//"
  • started a new shell
  • updated the font database: mtxrun --script fonts --reload --force
  • and finally ran a command to find the new entries: mtxrun --script fonts --list --all

Unfortunately I had no luck finding my system fonts located in usr/share/fonts etc in the database, although the output of the reload command shows that it found system fonts:

fonts           | names | identifying system font files with suffix 'AFM'
fonts           | names | globbing path '/home/julian/.fonts/**.AFM'
fonts           | names | globbing path '/home/julian/usr/share/fonts/**.AFM'
fonts           | names | globbing path '/usr/local/share/fonts/**.AFM'
fonts           | names | 43 system files identified, 0 skipped, 0 duplicates, 43 hash entries added, runtime 0.146 seconds
fonts           | names | 135 files rejected due to clashes
fonts           | names | 182 double lookups in 'mappings'
fonts           | names | 39 double lookups in 'fallbacks'

I get only the default fonts listed, such as Latin Modern, and can't use system fonts in my documents.

The system font i want to use is referenced like this:

\definefontfamily [mainface] [rm] [dejavusans]
\definefontfamily [mainface] [ss] [dejavusans]
\definefontfamily [mainface] [tt] [dejavusans]
\definefontfamily [mainface] [mm] [dejavusans]

  • 1
    What happens if you run mtxrun --script fonts --list --pattern="Dejavu*" --all (assuming you have dejavu fonts installed). It will also help if you add a minimal example showing how you are trying to use system fonts.
    – Aditya
    Jan 30, 2018 at 17:17
  • 1
    Don't use simplefonts and have a look at wiki.contextgarden.net/… Jan 30, 2018 at 20:42
  • @Aditya: I tried to run your suggested line, but any font i have installed in /usr/share/fonts, /usr/local/share/fonts and ~/.fonts will not show up at all. According to the results of the update command, i have 558 registered fonts. The list however is significantly shorter. Jan 30, 2018 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


Interesting solution:

All i did is removing the variable from .zshrc file and context seemed to use the default location, where it looks for font files. Maybe i did something wrong with it.

According to http://wiki.contextgarden.net/simplefonts:

In Linux, the standard value is:

OSFONTDIR= /usr/share/fonts//;$HOME/.fonts

  • Aside from your argument here (that I can't even get 'cause I'm no native english speaker). Is it just me, or you did set OSFONTDIR on your .zshrc file? I think it would be wiser if you set it as a global environment variable. For example, on my Gentoo box I created a file inside /etc/env.d/ and put in it the OSFONTDIR var with the values you'd want to set.
    – acidrums4
    Feb 5, 2018 at 21:08

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