Save Simple Terminal from symbolic font segfault

This post is archived. Opinions expressed herein may no longer represent my current views. Links, images and other media might not work as intended. Information may be out of date. For further questions contact me.

The scenario: you are on Debian (or derivatives) and are using the Simple Terminal by the upstream suckless source or community repos such as my soft fork of ST.

The problem: when ST tries to draw symbolic Unicode points—emoji—it throws an error and quits. This can happen quite often when using TUIs such as neomutt and newsboat: you might get updates that include such symbols in their title string. I have also seen Git repos where people use emoji in their commit messages…

The solution:

sudo apt install fonts-symbola

Everything will then work as intended. Just confirmed as much on a machine running Debian Buster/Sid.

Not needed for graphical applications

To get emoji support on GUIs, I rely on another typeface altogether:

sudo apt install fonts-noto-color-emoji

Then I use the appropriate rules in my fontconfig. The following is just a sample fonts.conf. For the fully fledged implementation, refer to my dotfiles:

	<!-- If the requested font is sans-serif -->
	<!-- Display sans-serif and then emoji fallbacks -->
	<match target="pattern">
		<test qual="any" name="family">
		<edit name="family" mode="prepend_first">
		<default><family>Noto Color Emoji</family></default>

All of the above granted, I wish I could do without emoji in my terminal…