a simple textfile based psf font editor suite
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a simple suite of utilities to provide text based editing of psf files.

Author: Gunnar Zötl gz@tset.de, 2016.
Released under the terms of the MIT/X11 license. See file LICENSE for details.


This is a suite of utilities intended to create psf font files. The main use is to automatically create font files from pixel data converted into a simple text file format, but it can also be used to create fonts manually. It is inspired by nafe (http://nafe.sourceforge.net/), but is much more complete. It supports both psf1 and psf2 file formats, and unicode sequences. The main tools are psfd, which converts a psf format font file into a text format, which can then be edited in any text editor, and psfc, which takes a text file in a special format and converts that into a psf (1 or 2) format font file. There is also psfid, which can be used to query some information from a psf font file, and psft, which helps with editing fonts.

Building & Installing

A simple make should build the three tools. Use make install to copy the tools to /usr/local/bin or make install BINDIR=/my/bin/dir to use a custom install location.

File format

The text file format is a textual representation of the psf[1,2] font file format, as presented here: http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/kbd/font-formats-1.html

Lines starting with a hash char (#) are comments. Header fields and glyph header lines may also have trailing comments, but lines that are part of a glyphs bitmap data may not. Within comments, all chars are allowed, but everywhere else, only ASCII chars are permissible.

You an also have empty lines anywhere except between a glyph header and the end of the glyph bitmap data, where it will be interpreted as an all-zero row of pixels.

The first non-comment non-whitespace line must be


where version is 1 or 2

Then follows the header, one field per line. Recognized header fields are:

Width: <number>
width of char in pixels. For psf1 fonts this is optional, but must be set to 8 if specified. For psf2 files, whis need not be a multiple of 8.
Height: <number>
height of char in pixels.
Pixel: <char>
specification of ASCII char to be used for a set pixel (1 bit). Every other char within a glyph definition is treated as a 0 bit. Default is '#'

After the header follow the glyphs. Each glyph starts with a single line glyph header:

@<n> [: <unicode vals>]

n is the sequence number of the following glyph, starting from 0. You may skip glyph numbers, if you do so, the place will be filled with an empty glyph (a.k.a space) with empty unicode translation data. Unicode vals are optional entries U+XXXX where XXXX is a 4 digit hex number for psf1 or more digits for psf2. A comma starts a sequence, that is, multiple values that when combined will result in this glyph. The full grammar for the unicode vals is similar to how it is stored in the psf file:

<unicode vals> := <uc>*<seq>*<term>
<uc> := 'U+'<hex unicode value>
<seq> := ';'<uc><uc>*
<term> := '\n'

Immediately following the glyph header is the bitmap data for the glyph. Bitmap data data are lines of ASCII chars representing the pixels for the glyph. An empty line will be translated to a row of empty pixels. Note that there can be no comments between the glyph header and the end of the glyph bitmap data.

See the file Demofont-Fixed8x6.txt for an example of how the textual representation of a psf file looks. Note that if you compile this font with psfc, the result will only work in a framebuffer console. You can change the fonts' width to 8 to make it work in a text mode console.

The tools


psfd [file.psf [file.txt]]

converts psf (1 or 2) font files into a textual representation. If the output file is omitted, defaults to stdout. If the input file is omitted or -, defaults to stdin.

This does not call gzip for .psf.gz files, you need to decompress them before passing them to psfd.


psfc [file.txt [file.psf]]

converts a text file in the format described above into a psf1 or psf2 format font file. If the output file is omitted, defaults to stdout. If the input file is omitted or -, defaults to stdin.


psfid [-v] [-w] [-h] [-n] [-u] font.psf

print information about a psf font:

  • -v psf version
  • -w font width
  • -h font height
  • -n number of chars in font
  • -u presence of unicode translation table in font (1 for yes, 0 for no)
  • -l list table of encoded chars

default if no options are specified is -v -w -h -n -u


psft cmd [opts]

perform actions on a psf font text file.

cmd is one of

ren[umber] [infile [outfile]]
renumber glyphs. If infile is omitted of -, defaults to stdin. If outfile is omitted, defaults to stdout.
gen[erate] <version> [-w <width>] [-h <height>] [-n <num>] [-u] [outfile]
generate a new font template. version is 1 or 2, depending on the psf version you want to generate. width and height default to 8, and num (the amount of chars in the font) defaults to 256. Specify -u to add sample unicode values to the template. If outfile is omitted, defaults to stdout.
print the help

The Library

There is a small library the utils are based on. It consists of 2 files, psf.c and a header file called psf.h. You can just drop those into your project, they have no dependencies beyond standard ISO C. The documentation for the functions in the library can be found as comments in psf.h.