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No nimbus for Mathematica

We had Mathematica 6 (6.0.1 to be specific) installed on a Debian 4.1 (Lenny/Testing). After setting up an xfs X font server and adding Mathematica's fonts everything seemed to work just fine. But then I remembered that I needed to add the FontPath to the VNCserver scripts. And when I tried to run Mathematica it greeted me with a nice beep and Help โ†’ Why the Beep? told me

Unable to find font family Nimbus Sans L with requested face
(weight Plain, slant Plain). Substituting closest match.

Well, I hope that if anyone else gets the same message they can find my solution. Because when I searched the web I didn't find a bit. It took me more than an hour to cure this.

I first thought that some fonts were missing but this did not quieten Mathematica. After much reading and nearly getting lost in trial and error I found a (wrong) hint in an old documentation for Mathematica 4.2. Anyway, this hint pointed me to the file

So, by chance, there I found the entry for

@@resource NormalFontWeights
{ "medium", "normal", "light", "book"}

and I remembered from the fc-list output of

fc-list | grep -i "nimbus sans"

that there was no "normal" or "medium". There was only "regular". Thus, adding "regular" to the list of NormalFontWeights as in

@@resource NormalFontWeights
{ "regular", "medium", "normal", "light", "book"}

fixed the problem :-)

Bad nimbus

Maybe I should add that when I tested some more configurations I once was facing the following error message which is โ€“ strangely enough โ€“ very similar though I was only starting the same Mathematica just by means of ssh -X within the VNC server of another machine:

Unable to find font with family Nimbus Sans L, weight Plain,
slant Plain, and size 10.

In this case fc-list | grep -i "nimbus sans" still showed the same hits but

xlsfonts | grep -i nimbus

was empty because the FontPath for the VNCserver session was not set.


Andreas Schamanek, 2009-10-29 17:23

Just installed Mathematica 7.0.1, same issue, same fix. At least.

David Larson, 2013-10-23 03:13

Mathematica 7 on Ubuntu 12.04. Same issue and this fix worked. Thank you very much for figuring this out AND for taking the time to post it online!

Andreas Schamanek, 2013-10-24 00:51, 2013-11-03 21:00

@David: I am glad you found this old posting and that it helped. Strangely enough, I haven't had this problem since years, however we are using Mathematica 8!?

Are you using VNC and/or xfs, or are you running Mathematica locally?

blog/071116_no_nimbus_for_mathematica.txt ยท Last modified: 2007-11-16 21:20 by andreas