The case of some Flash based games unable to display text when viewed in GNU/Linux

July 30, 2006
One persistent problem I used to face while using GNU/Linux was when I visited sites containing certain flash based games. The games played well but they never displayed the text embedded in it. I thought that it was a drawback of the flash player ver 7 provided for Linux. It never occurred to me to dig into the problem and find why it was happening so.

But recently, in the process of installing a software package, I installed all the core Microsoft fonts on my machine running Linux. In Ubuntu/Debian, there is a package called msttcorefonts which bundles all the most common true type Windows fonts. You can also copy the fonts from your Windows partition to Linux if you are dual booting between the two OSes. Once the fonts were installed, I was pleasantly surprised to see the above mentioned problem disappear.

That was when it struck me that perhaps the flash game in question could be using a Windows specific font to render the text in the game. And since there are no Windows fonts on a default Linux installation, the flash game/site is unable to show the text.

Fig: The game viewed on a system devoid of Windows fonts

Fig: ...and after the Windows fonts were installed.

So the next time you visit a flash site and can't see any text, be sure that it is because you don't have Windows fonts on your machine running Linux.


  • well damn. Thanks thats been bugging me for ages.

  • That is probably why I can't see some of the text in Skype for Linux and Google Earth for Linux. I'll have to give this a try. Thanks.

  • I wonder if creative use of font aliases could work instead. (Downloading the MSFT fonts (the foundry is really Monotype) doesn't bother me but might be a problem for purists or those on dial-up.)

  • The problem with the flash plugin is that it uses the old X font system and not fontconfig/Xft.

    For example, I do have the MSFT core fonts installed but flash still doesn't show any text, because I only have the fonts installes in fontconfig.

  • I found the similar package for Fedora users here: msttcorefonts

  • Rajiv

    I was facing this problem with Google Analytics! Had to log on to windows to check it. Thanks a lot.

  • Johnny


    installing t1-xfree86-nonfree and msttcorefonts on debian solve partially the problem. Title graphs on google analytic still missing.

  • I had the same problem...
    Installing msttcorefonts solved it only partially, then I read the suggestion to get gsfonts and gsfonts-x11. My gsfonts was already the most recent version, but updating gsfonts-x11 seemed to have solved the problem.

  • zooplah

    Adobe needs to seriously look into making Flash have a better fallback mechanism for fonts. I mean, if I don't have a font, it should display in a generic font rather than not display at all. What I'd suggest is to make default font detection part of the plugin API, and then Flash and other plugins could detect your default quite easily.