License for console fonts

Dan Nelson dnelson at
Mon May 9 23:04:32 UTC 2011

In the last episode (May 09), Sean Hamilton said:
> What is the license on the fonts in /usr/share/syscons/fonts, especially
> swiss-8x8?  Who/what is their origin?  Would it be acceptable to include
> these binaries with a GPL-licensed program?

I submitted the "swiss" fonts back in 1997, and I have a file called
"" on an old DOS directory dated 1995, so they're probably even
older than that.  I seem to remember the 8x16 font was inspired by a sample
font that came with the ancient DOS font editor "Font Mania", but for
nostalgia's sake I goooled for it, started up DOSBox, and all of the sample
fonts are fancy and not suitable for daily use.  I don't think I came up
with the name "swiss" myself, so I probably used another VGA font as a
template, but my guess is the original author isn't concerned about the
copyright status...  You can consider them 2-clause BSD licensed like the
rest of FreeBSD, until someone can find an older font that looks similar.

I mainly wanted a sans-serif font that didn't waste so many pixels on
whitespace between letters.  Capitals and numbers on the 8x16 font are 1
pixel taller than a default ROM font, which really makes it stand out.  The
8x8 font was copied from the 8x16 font, but at 8x8 there really isn't much
personalization you can do, apart from decide "serifs, or not?" :)

	Dan Nelson
	dnelson at

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