small screenshot -DeeT's Linux Nethack Fonts Page small screenshot

Updated: March 3, 2003
I love to play the game Nethack on my Linux box, but I'm fussy about the user interface. I prefer to play on a console window and generally do not like X windows or the tiles, yet I want the glyphs to at least somewhat resemble the objects they represent.

My way of solving the problem was to create a special Linux console font for playing nethack, and to patch the game to load and use the font. This provides an alternative interface which is poised somewhere in between IBMgraphics and tiles in terms of detail.

Here are some screenshots to give you a good idea what the game looks like...

before, and after.

Click the thumbnails to see the full-sized screen shots. There is a shop on the level with tons of items, so you can see lots of the graphical symbols for objects.

I have seen the graphical tiles available for nethack, but I've never been happy with them. For one thing, I like seeing the whole map all the time. For another, the tiles to me look like a bad picture rather than a good symbol, if that makes any sense. On the other hand, I find plain ASCII symbols distracting. To me, a percent sign is too abstract, a picture of bloody bones is too graphic, but a little knife-spoon-and-fork symbol is just right.

With the console mode font, each cell is still a primitive "glyph" representing something in the game, and the gameplay still feels like good old nethack. But a dog looks like a dog... sort of!

If you're interested in trying some of this stuff out, read on.

cse Font Editor

In order to create the special font I would need to play the game, I made a simple Linux console mode font editor, which is now in the public domain. You can learn more about it and grab it for yourself at the cse Linux Font Editor page.

The font editor is not required to play nethack with my special font. You would only need it if you want to change the font to suit your taste.

Nethack Patches

I've put together a "patch kit" to modify the nethack source to support the special Linux console mode font. You can grab the Nethack Linux Font Patch Kit here. Included are complete instructions on how to patch version 3.4.1 of nethack, the latest as of this writing. Also included are patches for 3.3.1, in case anyone wishes to patch that version.

Nethack Source Code

The best place to locate nethack sources is the Official Nethack Home Page.

Possible Enhancements

I am also thinking of releasing a binary version of nethack for RedHat Linux 7.0 with the patches already in place. Please email me if you have any interest in this.

Go [back] to -DeeT's Hacks Page.

David B. Thomas (