[syslinux] Font for cyrillic letters

Ady Ady ady-sf at hotmail.com
Sat Oct 26 02:53:54 PDT 2019

> Hi.
> I was trying to make syslinux to display russian letters.
> This page
> https://wiki.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php?title=Directives/font says
> that for Cyrillic you need a CP855. Is that correct? All other
> guides in internet say that you need CP866. 
The "original" Code Page for Cyrillic for MS-DOS is "cp855".

There are several alternative Cyrillic fonts (that were created 
later-on). This means that, when using one particular font/codepage 
(e.g. cp855), one scancode might be "translated" into one particular 
glyph on screen, but when using a different font/codepage (e.g. cp866) 
the resulting glyph on screen might be different than when using the 
first font.

Additionally, saving the syslinux.cfg file itself with a different 
codepage _might_ affect the resulting glyphs when showing the boot menu 
(or the boot CLI). The same might be relevant for so-called "display" 
(aka "help") files being shown by Syslinux.

Please note that the codepage that is used for saving the syslinux.cfg 
(and/or the "display") file is independent of the font that is being 
used by whichever program that is displaying the file when you edit it. 
In other words, what you see when you edit the syslinux.cfg/display 
file(s) might not be the same as the resulting glyphs being shown while 
booting with Syslinux.

Within the "kbd" package for ArchLinux, I would suggest reading (for 
some examples/hints):


There are other readme files that include relevant notes for Cyrillic 

The AltLinux community/users might be able to help too.

For curious (ArchLinux's) users, the following page (preview of console 
fonts as PNGs) might be of interest (but, please note that not every 
font shown there is compatible with Syslinux/psf1 fonts):


> I finally got it working. My config file was encoded in ibm866
> correctly, but the problem was the font file itself. I am on Arch
> Linux, so I run gunzip -c
> /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/cp866-8x16.psf.gz > cp866-8x16.psf And
> Russian text was not displayed correctly. 
> Then I checked it with "file cp866-8x16.psf" and it was:
> cp866-8x16.psf: Linux/i386 PC Screen Font v2 data, 256 characters, no directory, 16x8
ATM, Syslinux doesn't support psf2.

> In that wiki page it is said that font should be PSF1 format. Here I
> have found a guide with file attached 866_8x16.psf:
> http://greenflash.su/Syslinux/files/example.htm 
> I have downloaded it, and checked with "file 866_8x16.psf":
> 866_8x16.psf: Linux/i386 PC Screen Font v1 data, 256 characters, Unicode directory, 8x16
> And Russian letters were displayed correctly!
That's an adequate combination: 8x16 bits, psf1, and the syslinux.cfg 
file saved in an adequate codepage.

> But how could I get such file without external blog posts? Is it
> possible to convert psf2 font to psf1 format? 
> Also, I have found this question: https://toster.ru/q/138495 and there
> is a config with russian letters and with using Cyr_a8x16.psf font. I
> again used an ungzipped file from Arch Linux, but it did not
> displayed russian letters. It was again a v2 font "file
> Cyr_a8x16.psfu": Cyr_a8x16.psfu: Linux/i386 PC Screen Font v2 data,
> 256 characters, Unicode directory, 16x8 
As the Syslinux wiki explains, you need one font file being compatible 
with psf1, 8x16 bits, 256 glyphs (additional glyphs are accepted but 

As already mentioned, Syslinux at the moment does not support psf2 font 
> Were psf1 fonts gone from kbd package, but still required to be used
> with syslinux? 
I think that the kbd package still includes psf1 files, together with 
psf2 files. Some of these might include Unicode too, which Syslinux 
ignores. So, AFAIK, psf1 fonts are not "gone".

Additionally, the wiki page also mentions some additional possible font 
files that might be slightly different than those already included in 
the kbd package.

At any rate, any font file that is expected to be used by Syslinux 
should/shall be compatible with the features that are already explained 
in the wiki (which I already repeated here in this email). The result 
of using font files with different characteristics than those that are 
expected by Syslinux is unknown / undetermined.


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