Geek assistance required

When I use Linux Firefox go to look at web pages that use Greek letters (and other such “symbols”, I guess), e.g., I get… well, something else, I don’t know what, but it’s not Greek letters:

Same thing if I use Mozilla. Doesn’t seem to matter what prefs I set for font or character encoding. If I look at the same page using Konqueror, though, I get the proper Greek letters. What’s the fix?


7 thoughts on “Geek assistance required

  1. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but one thing you can try is to change Wikipedia’s settings for math symbols. It can serve them entirely as images, as a combination of images and characters, or as MathML. (It may well be that it’s trying to serve you MathML and Firefox’s partial support is crapping out on it.) If you get a Wikipedia account and log in (you can have it log in automatically when you are connected), this is a preference you can change under the “Math” tab in your preferences.


    1. …Though if this is a problem at places other than Wikipedia, the MathML theory is probably wrong (it doesn’t seem to use MathML on that Yukawa page at all, even if you specify “MathML if possible” in the settings). The only page I’ve ever seen that actually uses MathML consistently is Jacques Distler’s blog; he’s a string theorist and apparently an adventurous soul. On the other hand, the Wikipedia images option should work fine for you as long as you’re reading Wikipedia. My leading theory is that it’s trying to get its math symbol characters out of something kind of like Apple’s “Symbol” font, and that you’ve got the wrong font installed for whatever it is.


      1. Ah, here’s something… I was changing my sans serif font preferences, which changes the text around the symbols — but the symbols are inside a <span class=”texhtml”>…</span>, and span.texhtml sets font-family to serif. So maybe I just need a different serif font defined. Since Konqueror gets it right, I’d guess there’s a suitable serif font available, I just have to find it. I hope.


    1. If it’s a system-wide font problem, that may not help. I do recall fonts in Linux being kind of a byzantine subject, though.


  2. I have been trying to figure out what those symbols actually are. My best guess is that they are Arabic presentation forms, that is, glyphs designed to indicate the form of an Arabic letter when it appears at a specific place in a word (you need a lot of those to render Arabic text correctly). There are some that look kind of like those, though it’s hard to tell because the screencap is so small.


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