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I’m getting the error message “Fontconfig error: Cannot load default config file” when launching Stata. What does that mean?

Title   Fontconfig error: Cannot load default config file
Author Chinh Nguyen, StataCorp

When launching Stata, the following error message appears:

 Fontconfig error: Cannot load default config file
 No fonts found; this probably means that the fontconfig
 library is not correctly configured. You may need to
 edit the fonts.conf configuration file. More information
 about fontconfig can be found in the fontconfig(3) manual
 page and on http://fontconfig.org

This error will appear when Fontconfig is not configured on your system. Stata uses GTK+-2.0 for its graphical user interface. GTK+-2.0 requires Fontconfig for its font management. Stata has the GTK+-2.0 libraries and dependencies such as Fontconfig statically linked into Stata, but Fontconfig requires a configuration file that describes where the fonts are installed on the system.

Recent versions of Unix operating systems typically have some version of GTK+-2.0 installed, so Fontconfig will already be configured. If you find that /etc/fonts/fonts.conf already exists on your system, do not overwrite it. However, if this is the case, you should not have received the error message and should contact Stata technical support instead.

If /etc/fonts/fonts.conf does not exist on your system, download the appropriate fonts.conf file for your system from the following table to your computer. To download, right-click on the appropriate link in the table below, and select Save as. Be sure to save the extension as .conf. (Your browser may try to read or save the file as an XML document, which will result in an error.)

Linux fonts.conf
Sun Solaris (for older versions of Stata) fonts.conf
IBM AIX (for older versions of Stata) fonts.conf
HP-UX (for older versions of Stata) fonts.conf

Then follow the steps below:

  1. Log in with superuser access.
  2. Create the directory /etc/fonts.
  3. Move fonts.conf into /etc/fonts.
  4. Make sure fonts.conf has its file permissions set so that it is readable by all.

Note: IBM AIX users should create the directory /opt/freeware/etc/fonts and copy fonts.conf into there.