Setting up Hebrew Android fonts on your AVD emulator


There are several good guides for installing Gilad Ben-Yossef’s excellent Hebdroid fonts on physical Android devices, but those don’t really work with the Android SDK’s emulator - changes to the system directory aren’t persistent. Here’s how to get around that:

First, a few downloads. You’ll need:

  1. The android emulator (presumably you already have this, if not, you can get it at
  2. The hebdroid fonts
  3. unyaffs, which will extract the system.img file
  4. A snapshot of yaffs2, which will create our new system.img file. This is actually today’s snapshot from the git repository, which worked for me. For later versions, take a look at the git repository.

Building unyaffs is simple enough, or you can use the prebuilt version from the site. Building mkyaffs2image is also quite easy - just untar the snapshot, and run make in the utils directory. Put both of these utilities somewhere in your $PATH for convenience.

Now we can get to work. First, locate your system.img file. It should be within your Android SDK directory, under platforms/android-3/images (or whatever version you’re emulating). We’ll extract that - create a temporary directory, say /tmp/system.img.hebdroid, and cd to it. Then run:

unyaffs /path/to/system.img

The whole /system filesystem should be extracted. Now extract the ttf files from into the fonts directory, replacing the original font files. To pack everything back up, run:

mkyaffs2image /tmp/system.img.hebdroid system.img.hebdroid

Now, I recommend putting renaming your original system.img to system.img.orig, and using symlinking system.img.hebdroid as your new system.img (the emulator does indeed follow symlinks), but you can basically do whatever you like. You may have to recreate your AVD, but everything should work. Happy hacking!