Display most emojis on Arch Linux and get rid of tofu characters

18 February 2016

It may happen to you as it did to me to sometimes read messages with "tofu" characters in it: these boxes with numbers in it. It means they can't be displayed with the fonts installed on your machine. Before, I didn't pay much attention to it because I could still read the message, but I really got interested while working on Qowala when some messages had only this kind of characters.

TL;DR: Display most emojis on Arch Linux by installing the Noto font for emojis by Google with the following command: sudo pacman -S noto-fonts-emoji.

The culprit

In fact, when I checked the same message on Twitter's website as the one displayed on Qowala, I could see it was emojis. I could see it because it was Twitter's own emojis which were in fact images. As Twitter released its opensource library of emojis, I could integrate it in Qowala's new version currently in development and fixed this mean boxes!

Emojis fixed on Qowala 1.0!

Okay, I went a little bit out the subject, but it's because of this episode while coding for Qowala that I pay more attention to these characters. I'm using elementaryOS and Arch Linux on my computers to really have the two opposites of what is available in the Linux experience and I noticed that an email in Thunderbird on elementaryOS displayed a character that I didn't have on Arch Linux. Frustrated of not having the correct emoji, I searched how to display it on my Arch Linux. After some little research on the fontWiki of Arch Linux, I found the Noto font from Google being the right one. As it displays exactly the same emoji on my elementaryOS, I assume it is the one used by default on Ubuntu-based distributions.

I missed this clock emoji on Arch Linux

So if you want to display some emojis on your Arch linux, just install the noto-fonts-emoji package with the following command:

sudo pacman -S noto-fonts-emoji

If you have more information on which fonts are the best in terms of compatibility and numbers of glyphs, please let me know!