Introduction to Harfbuzz

The HarfBuzz package contains an OpenType text shaping engine.

This package is known to build and work properly using an LFS 12.1 platform.

Package Information

HarfBuzz Dependencies



Cairo-1.18.0 (circular: build cairo and all its recommended dependencies, including harfbuzz, first, then rebuild harfbuzz if the cairo backend is needed), git-2.44.0, GTK-Doc-1.33.2, FontTools (Python 3 module, for the test suite), ragel, and wasm-micro-runtime



Recommended dependencies are not strictly required to build the package. However, you might not get expected results at runtime if you don't install them. Please do not report bugs with this package if you have not installed the recommended dependencies.

Installation of HarfBuzz

Install HarfBuzz by running the following commands:

mkdir build &&
cd    build &&

meson setup ..            \
      --prefix=/usr       \
      --buildtype=release \
      -Dgraphite2=enabled &&

To test the results, issue: ninja test.

Now, as the root user:

ninja install

Command Explanations

--buildtype=release: Specify a buildtype suitable for stable releases of the package, as the default may produce unoptimized binaries.

-Dgraphite2=enabled: This switch enables Graphite2 support, which is required for building texlive-20230313 or LibreOffice- with system harfbuzz.

-Ddocs=disabled: If GTK-Doc-1.33.2 is installed, the documentation is built and installed. This switch prevents that.


Installed Programs: hb-info, hb-ot-shape-closure, hb-shape, hb-subset, and hb-view (only if Cairo is installed)
Installed Libraries: libharfbuzz.so, libharfbuzz-cairo.so (only if Cairo is installed), libharfbuzz-gobject.so, libharfbuzz-icu.so, and libharfbuzz-subset.so
Installed Directories: /usr/include/harbuzz, /usr/lib/cmake/harfbuzz, and /usr/share/gtk-doc/html/harfbuzz (optional)

Short Descriptions


is used for gathering information about fonts installed on the system


gives the set of characters contained in a string, represented as single characters and/or single character names. Example: hb-ot-shape-closure /usr/share/fonts/dejavu/DejaVuSans.ttf "Hello World."


is used for the conversion of text strings into positioned glyphs


is used to create subsets of fonts, and display text using them


displays a graphical view of a string shape using a particular font as a set of glyphs. The output format is automatically defined by the file extension, the supported ones being ansi/png/svg/pdf/ps/eps. For example: hb-view --output-file=hello.png /usr/share/fonts/dejavu/DejaVuSans.ttf "Hello World."


is the HarfBuzz text shaping library


provides Cairo integration for the Harfbuzz text shaping library


provides GObject integration for the HarfBuzz text shaping library


provides ICU integration for the HarfBuzz text shaping library


provides API functions for performing subsetting operations on font files