Firefox for Linux – Urdu Font Rendering


Finally, I found the solution to the Firefox Urdu Font related bug in Dapper. Me, the newbie, the linux illiterate who didn’t even know Tux; I solved a bug in an open source software that I am using on my open source operating system.

After upgrading to Dapper, I found that Firefox in Dapper does not render Urdu fonts properly. Since I spend a lot of time reading Urdu blogs and news sites, it was a major issue. It even forced me to install Konqueror, Galeon, Epiphany, Swiftfox, Firefox’s mozilla built. I spent many hours reading bug reports, comments on the bug reports, following different forum discussions and sharing my problem with users on all these platforms. I tried many solutions none of them worked out. On my way I found that several other people using different Linux distros were facing the same problem.

Then finally I found a discussion where some users were suggesting that Pango support should be disabled for Firefox. They suggested eachother to add MOZ_DISABLE_PANGO=1 line in /etc/environment file. I tried this solution but it didn’t work. Then I tried MOZ_DISABLE_PANGO=0 and bingo!

Now I can read Urdu web pages and firefox renders these web pages perfectly displaying Urdu fonts beautifully even better than the Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows.

I am not sure about what was really wrong with Firefox but I guess that Ubuntu Dapper has pango support enabled for selective locales only. Firefox didn’t render Urdu fonts using Pango. I am not sure about this and would be grateful if someone confirms this to me.

The moral of story is that my Ubuntu Linux is very powerful and using it I can do whatever I want. You the windows user? Can you do this with your Windows?

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14 thoughts on “Firefox for Linux – Urdu Font Rendering

  1. Came here while looking into language and font rendering issues in linux. Also make sure you add a language entry for urdu from kde control panel -> regional settings – country and language. For example, i read pages in bangla, and i have bangla added first and english as the second. The /etc/environment should also reflect the choice of languages. Mine reads:

    both firefox and konqueror now render bengali beautifully, which it never did in XP. And of course make sure that you have all the language packs installed of course.

  2. Well, there’s also a conflict between Urdu and Pashto rendering (look at Urdu Wikipedia then Pashto Wikipedia and you will understand what I am talking about). I solved this problem in Firefox by changing the font for Arabic to Lateef (you can found it in synaptic I think or on the SIL website ( But, you will say, it still not solve the problem. Yes, you have to say, that ‘you don’t let the page to choose their own font instead of these ones’ (sorry if the translation is incorrect, I’m not using firefox in English).
    As far as I can see, I don’t need “MOZ_DISABLE_PANGO=1” or “MOZ_DISABLE_PANGO=0” anymore (well, didn’t install Tahoma though, so maybe it’s necessary for these particular pages).

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