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I was wondering if, and how I could get the fonts used in BIOS ROM (the font you see when entering BIOS setup and during early stages of boot).

The same font is used in VirtualBox, when booting a VM.

I'm a Linux user, and I'd prefer the font as bitmap pixel font, so I could use it, but when it's available in another format, that's fine.

The name of it would be helpful as well. All I could find was things like "BIOS font" or "ROM font", which isn't quite accurate.

Here's a picture I found on the web: enter image description here

And here's VirtualBox: enter image description here


Here's a comparison of Unibit and The VirtualBox font: enter image description here As you can see, Unibit has similar glyphs, but they're narrower than the VGA font.

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OK, some people have answered mentioning rasterized pixel fonts. There are many, and it's one of the reasons, why I haven't found the one I'm still looking for. Is there a way where I could extract the font from VirtualBox? – polemon Aug 28 '11 at 16:16
up vote 13 down vote accepted

The in-ROM VGA fonts supplied in the firmwares of both Bochs and VirtualBox — the Plex86/Bochs VGA firmware — are the VGA fonts (VGA-ROM.F??) from Joseph Gil's package. They are right there in the Bochs/VirtualBox/Plex86 source code, beneath a big comment saying where they came from.

fntcol16 has an 8×16 font, as used for VGA 25 line text modes; an 8×14 font; and an 8×8 font as used for VGA 50 line text modes. The fonts used on a real machine for the VGA text modes may well be different. What font is used depends from who wrote the firmware. Various people on the WWW have taken VGA cards that they own and extracted the VGA fonts from the ROM on the card, and converted them with tools such as (apparently) Jan Engelhardt's fnt2bdf.

Various other people have designed their own lookalike fonts, for Microsoft Windows, X, and so forth, from scratch. One such is Dmitry Yu. Bolkhovityanov, who has made a Unicode VGA font based upon the vga.bdf font in XDosEmu.

Be aware, when comparing fonts by eye, that the actual VGA font as displayed on real hardware is usually a 9×16 font. VGA and "SuperVGA" display adapters in (VGA) text modes turn an 8×16 font into, variously, a 9×16 font, an 8×16 font with a 1-pixel border between characters, or a 7×16 font with a 1-pixel border between characters. This is done in hardware. The 9×16 font is constructed by either adding a background ninth pixel or (for glyphs 0xC0 to 0xDF) repeating the final pixel.

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OK, I got now, how can I view them or make them available in X? I believe I would have to convert them to PCF somehow. – polemon Aug 29 '11 at 9:57
The link to the package seems to be down, but I found a copy, or at least something similar here. There are other packages and such here. – Amziraro Apr 15 at 14:37

After the some research, the font you are looking for is called: 3270. Not sure it has an official font name. However, I guess IBM 3270 font is the closest. The font you're looking for is a monospace raster font. I'm not sure what the officially name is but is it's sometimes refer to a VGA font or VGA raster font. Perfect DOS VGA is a very good match. Probably, a perfect match.

enter image description here

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Great! I'll take a look at it. On Linux, I have the font "Unibit", which has a really close resemblance to the font I use. I'm not sure, where the font comes from. – polemon Aug 28 '11 at 17:10
I was wrong with IBM3270 recommendation. I noticed I was wrong when compared the y between the two. – SgtOJ Aug 28 '11 at 17:53

FWIW, those are two different fonts: VirtualBox uses VGA text mode, while the BIOS photo uses MCGA. (Note the different m letters.)

One version is available here.

Linux kbd package comes with fonts default8x16 and drdos8x16, but they are in PCF format (which can be converted to FON).

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Thanks, I'll post a picture where I compare the VGA text mode to unibit. – polemon Aug 28 '11 at 17:47

Is this what you are looking for?

Searching for System Font or DOS System Font may help.

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It's not the correct font. It's a nice recreation, but take a look at the zeros. The one in the font you linked, are slashed, the ones I mean are dotted. It's only a minor difference, but I need exactly the one used on BIOS and VirtualBox. – polemon Aug 28 '11 at 16:04

In Windows 7, the font is called "Terminal"

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No, it's not the same font. Check for slashed zeros, and you'll see the difference. – polemon Aug 28 '11 at 16:14

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