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I think it's great to have a variety of fonts to choose from, but given that I already specified my region during the install, it seems odd that the Western fonts are by far the minority -- crowded out by Bengali, Khmer, Tagalog, Runic, and countless other far-flung or even historic scripts.

It is not so convenient to have all these (to me) useless fonts, as they make the "fonts" list in any text app incredibly noisy and long. It is also not entirely simple to get rid of them (it requires you to know where system fonts are stored, that you dare to use root, and have some idea of which fonts are which).

I just wonder why the default selecting is that diverse? This did not used to be the case; perhaps there's a "font selection" step I'm just not seeing during the installation phase?

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    The why is simple: Ubuntu targets to work out of the box. With a huge user base in India (see Ubuntu statistics) and assumingly analyzing what packages get downloaded frequently, the standards might have been adapted. – Fiximan Nov 7 '19 at 14:36
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I can't address the "why" and don't see any way of avoiding the installation of all these fonts. But I use the following code to remove fonts I don't need. Obviously, you may not want to remove all of the fonts I remove. So edit as per your needs:

sudo apt purge \
  fonts-beng-extra \
  fonts-beng \
  fonts-deva-extra \
  fonts-deva \
  fonts-gargi \
  fonts-gubbi \
  fonts-gujr-extra \
  fonts-gujr \
  fonts-guru-extra \
  fonts-guru \
  fonts-indic \
  fonts-kacst-one \
  fonts-kacst \
  fonts-kalapi \
  fonts-khmeros-core \
  fonts-knda \
  fonts-lao \
  fonts-lklug-sinhala \
  fonts-lohit-beng-assamese \
  fonts-lohit-beng-bengali \
  fonts-lohit-deva \
  fonts-lohit-gujr \
  fonts-lohit-guru \
  fonts-lohit-knda \
  fonts-lohit-mlym \
  fonts-lohit-orya \
  fonts-lohit-taml-classical \
  fonts-lohit-taml \
  fonts-lohit-telu \
  fonts-mlym \
  fonts-nakula \
  fonts-navilu \
  fonts-noto-cjk \
  fonts-orya-extra \
  fonts-orya \
  fonts-pagul \
  fonts-sahadeva \
  fonts-samyak-deva \
  fonts-samyak-gujr \
  fonts-samyak-mlym \
  fonts-samyak-taml \
  fonts-sarai \
  fonts-sil-abyssinica \
  fonts-sil-padauk \
  fonts-smc-anjalioldlipi \
  fonts-smc-chilanka \
  fonts-smc-dyuthi \
  fonts-smc-karumbi \
  fonts-smc-keraleeyam \
  fonts-smc-manjari \
  fonts-smc-meera \
  fonts-smc-rachana \
  fonts-smc-raghumalayalamsans \
  fonts-smc-suruma \
  fonts-smc-uroob \
  fonts-smc \
  fonts-taml \
  fonts-telu-extra \
  fonts-telu \
  fonts-thai-tlwg \
  fonts-tibetan-machine \
  fonts-tlwg-garuda-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-garuda \
  fonts-tlwg-kinnari-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-kinnari \
  fonts-tlwg-laksaman-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-laksaman \
  fonts-tlwg-loma-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-loma \
  fonts-tlwg-mono-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-mono \
  fonts-tlwg-norasi-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-norasi \
  fonts-tlwg-purisa-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-purisa \
  fonts-tlwg-sawasdee-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-sawasdee \
  fonts-tlwg-typewriter-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-typewriter \
  fonts-tlwg-typist-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-typist \
  fonts-tlwg-typo-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-typo \
  fonts-tlwg-umpush-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-umpush \
  fonts-tlwg-waree-ttf \
  fonts-tlwg-waree \
  fonts-yrsa-rasa

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