[Pkg-fonts-devel] New release: GNU FreeFont

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at sil.org
Mon Mar 31 10:59:43 UTC 2008

Christian Perrier wrote:
> Quoting Steve White (stevan.white at googlemail.com):
>> You don't insist on building all your jpegs and png files from source
>> (I think).  Why do you insist on building ttf files?
> For instance to be able to have our source packages use patches such as
> the various ones you could use when you took ttf-freefont over?
> Debian is committed to its users' needs. One of these is one the
> building stones of Free Software: be able to modify the source code
> and adapt it to one's own needs.
> By offering our users the easiest possibility to modify the font
> packages we provide, we're respecting that item of the Debian social
> contract: we are committed to our users and free software.
> By doing that, we also comply to a commitment by Debian maintainers,
> contribute back our improvements to upstream developers.

Indeed, there are other scenarios where having full sources is
extremely useful. By font sources I mean not simply the final ttf but
also everything that can be useful for contributing/branching a font: 
the various data files, glyph databases, smart code for 
OpenType/Graphite, build scripts, pre-processing/normalisation script, 
documentation, design guides, rendering samples, etc.

For example:

- being able to read/write the textual version of smart font code
(OpenType or Graphite) and compile that into the font

- being able to read/write the textual version of hinting/gridfitting 

- being able to use scripts directly to process the sources (diffs,
revision control, etc)

- being able to strip down (and rename when needed) certain font
families for usage in the debian-installer.

- being able to run automated rest-suites to catch bugs

I think many will agree that fonts are software and not only shapes and 
that the comparison with jpg/png falls short.

> Speaking about TTF files, you're actually hit one of the weaknesses of
> many of our font packages: many of them are just providing random TTF
> files which our users can't modify themselves...

Well, I'd say that we're reversing that trend. It will probably take 
time but we are working towards getting more and more complete font 
sources released upstream and included.

> Providing TTF files that are buildable at package compilation time is
> not a requirement by the Debian policy. There's actually a grey line
> here and many Debian ttf-* packages are just what you suggest: random
> collection of unmodifiable TTF files.

They are not unmodifiable (you can open the ttf in your font editor) but 
will a designer have all the needed sources (the preferred form of 
modification) to be able to do the same job as upstream? This is where 
having more a more complete set of sources available to any designer 
branching is better.

IMHO it's worth considering a discussion to update the Debian policy in 
this regard: if upstream provides more complete sources then efforts to 
work on a FLOSS build path is a good investment for Debian as well as 
the upstream project.

I'll simply point out that Fedora has such a policy now in place:

> But *those* are the ones that
> need to be changed...not the packages that already allow font
> modifications such as ttf-freefont or ttf-dejavu (and many others
> maintained by the pkg-fonts team now).


Nicolas Spalinger
http:/ /pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org/

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 252 bytes
Desc: OpenPGP digital signature
Url : http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/pkg-fonts-devel/attachments/20080331/41dc6e17/attachment.pgp 

More information about the Pkg-fonts-devel mailing list