BigBlue Terminal: An Oldschool Fixed-Width Pixel Font

BigBlue Terminal is a monospaced pixel font, designed for use in fixed-width textual environments (consoles/terminals, text/code/hex editors and so on).  It follows the metrics and dimensions of Windows' old Terminal font (at the 9pt/12px size), but the appearance is closer to the classic IBM PC text mode character sets.

At 8x12 pixels, Terminal is nicely compact and useful, but also kind of ugly.  Instead, BigBlue Terminal is closely based on IBM's 8x14 EGA/VGA charset -- I just like it better.  Basically, that font has been squeezed and modified to fit into a 8x12-pixel cell.  For the extended 'Plus' version, many additional Unicode characters have been added to support international scripts and symbol sets.

BigBlue Terminal Font Specimen

The font comes in three variants,

  • BigBlue TerminalPlus: TrueType font, multi-language Unicode character set
  • BigBlue Terminal 437TT: TrueType font, codepage 437 (DOS/OEM-US)
  • BigBlue Terminal 437BM: Windows bitmap font (.FON), codepage 437 (DOS/OEM-US)

Grab the whole thing here.  And, since we're all appropriately oldschool here, the archive also includes a bonus DOS version!

See README.TXT for the boring technical stuff.  I'm releasing this under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license (and yes, 'attribution' means attribution -- you're not free to pass this work off as your own).


VileR says:

Thanks for the heads up on UniVGA16... better than those other TrueType versions of the VGA font floating around :) And yeah, in BigBlue Terminal the character cell is only 3/4 as tall as UniVGA16, so it's more compact (like Terminal itself). Can be an advantage if you want to fit more text into a given space, though.

Anyway, I'm going to release a few more fonts based on oldschool PC character sets, so stay tuned...

Blackcrack says:

Hi :)

Bubu, paperlapapp, if you post an link, then please the original and not something where have linked also.., his/this Big Blue Terminal Font must not hide anywhere !
It's also nice.. !

Thank you VILeR for you offer !
i like it !

best regards

Anonymous says:

I'm curious what settings are needed to make this look right in DOSBox. For some reason when I run it disables the option to maintain the aspect ratio so stretches to my 16:9 screen (which is just horrible.)

VileR says:

Anonymous: BLUETERM.COM produces a 640x480 text mode, which should be 4:3 without any aspect correction. I'm guessing you mean full-screen mode, though- that can be a pain to scale right (depending on your video drivers and renderer), but playing with the DOSBox "output=" config option may give you better luck.

Also, forcing the correct ratio (aspect=true) in text modes has only become supported in recent SVN builds of DOSBox; perhaps that might help... along with changing 'fullresolution=' and forcing a scaler, e.g. "scaler=normal2x forced".

Hope this helps. It is a shameful disgrace that to this day, there is no universal "scale resolution X to Y using algorithm Z" solution that works across all environments with arbitrary hardware. ;)

Anonymous says:

Hi VileR,
would be cool, if you would be a Member of Forum ;)
i guess, nobody have something against if i invite you :)
[joke]naturally with a 1:1 u+d-r for posting in the Forum lol[/joke]

best regards

Krypt says:

And now this mod is included as part of the game Oo
So, congrats, your font is used in game as optional font for terminals

Francisco says:

This font bring me some old memories. Any plans for providing bold and italic weights? I can't adopt it without that :(

VileR says:

@Francisco: I don't think they'd work very well, since the 8x14 EGA/VGA font (which this one is based on) wasn't made with bold/italic variants in mind.  Visually it's already 'bold' (vertical strokes are twice as wide as the horizontal ones), so an even heavier version wouldn't be very readable; if you've ever tried to display Windows' FixedSys in bold you probably know what I mean.

Francisco says:

Oh... that's sad. It's really a great font but it would be really unusable when editing markdown, as I use vim conceal features that replace markdown for actual bold text and italics.

Christian says:

Oh... And I have started a new project called the PlusTerminal Project. I will hire YOU, VileR to develop PlusTerminal.

deejayy says:

I just found this font in Textreme editor (which is fun, but practically useless). Thinking about, what is the problem with the Classic Console Font?
Yeah, it is not that compact, but you mentioned "those other TrueType versions of the VGA font floating around", curious about your impressions.

VileR says:

@deejayy: If I remember correctly, one of my issues with the Classic Console font was that it wasn't recognized as "DOS/OEM" by Windows, which is necessary for viewing codepage 437 ASCII stuff and such.  Of course that's not a very common use-case.  Still, good work on it - it's pretty faithful (which means it doesn't need to be compact), and it was one of the first I found :)

Francisco says:

I'm finally using this font now and with help of fontconfig configuration I can pick italic and bold (which I rarely use) from other fonts, IBM Plex Mono italic couples nicely with it, I couldn't find a great bold font, but JetBrains Mono ExtraBold is OK.

There's one thing I dislike on this font is that the greek lambda character looks too much like an "a".

Francisco says:

Would also be great to have more (or less) math symbols, at least those lacking counterparts, e.g. there's set intersection but no set union, so I'm having each coming from different fonts.

Piston Software says:

This is a great font. I support.

Anonymous says:

Thanks much for this! Ever since I moved to high PPI screens it has been difficult to find a typeface that isn't completely broken or unusably small.

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