[Pkg-fonts-devel] Policy on packaging fonts?

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at sil.org
Wed Jun 10 15:37:04 UTC 2009

Rogério Brito wrote:
> Hi there.
> I read the pages related to Debian packaging of fonts in wiki.d.o and I
> feel that there are some things missing from the policy.

Yes, this is a loose policy which needs updating.
Studying how existing open fonts are team-maintained in our svn
repository is probably more useful in the meantime.

> Namely, I want to get a non-free font called URW GaramondNo8, available
> from CTAN, that is available in pfb format and I would like to know which
> packaging convention I should use for the package.

This font is still under the Aladdin Public license? Pretty sad :-(

> I see that truetype fonts use a ttf- prefix and (my memory may be failing
> me here) opentype fonts use an otf- prefix. Should I use the ps- prefix for
> a Postscript font? I don't think that pfb- is a good prefix, but I'm don't
> think that the ps- prefix is a good choice too.

Good point.

According to the last font review
(http://pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org/review/) we don't have any pfb-* or
ps-* packages and all the PostScript fonts in the archive are in
packages with naming such as t1-*  *tex*, xfont-scalable-* or their own
names outside of any naming convention.

I agree with you that ps would be preferable to pfb.
But what do you think about "t1-" as a prefix?

The trouble with the ttf/otf prefixes is that various smart OpenType
fonts are distributed in a .ttf file format. We actually only have a few
OpenType font packages using otf in their name.

I have a proposal in the works for a unified naming convention of our
font packages. Users will still find them even if the naming isn't close
to perfection, though.

> BTW, my intention is to have some kind of Garamond font in Debian that is
> available to both X and TeX (I *am* a heavy TeX user).

Yeah, TeX is a delight.

You may well already know about this but in any case there are newer
TeX engines like pdftex and XeTeX ( http://scripts.sil.org/XeTeX ) which
allows you to use current font formats (TrueType/OpenType) without the
various special accompanying files.

If another OpenType font in the particular style you want exists with
appropriate DSFG-compliant licensing then Debian users could enjoy it in
their .tex sources via these new engines (now part of TexLive).

> I have working packages here, but I don't know how I should proceed with
> the best packaging practices regarding fonts.
> Also, some points that I should be addressed on the policy are:
> * what is the preferred way of providing packages that ship fonts that are
>   not ttf or otf?

This is still very much in flux. What do others in the team think?
Some consistency with existing packages would be nice although not
really essential.

> * should/must a font register with defoma?

AFAIK Paul has been handling the defoma situation, he would have the
answer to this one.

> * should/must a font register with dh_installtex?
> * should/must a font register with dh_installxfonts?

Not really sure.

> * should/must a font register with fontconfig?

AFAICT there's already provision in debhelper for fontconfig to refresh
its cache by default.

> * what are the naming convetions that a font package should follow?

This will be discussed in the future proposal but right now we've
somewhat followed $type-$foundry-$fontfamilyname.

> * what about bitmap fonts, some of which are very good for use on the
>   terminal?

The review currently doesn't include pcf or psf files. Some of the
ttf/otf fonts have embedded bitmaps. And some of us use a OpenType font
on our terms :-) What did you have in mind with this question? Where you
referring to console-setup?

> * what about incomplete font families (e.g., that don't provide, say, a
>   bold version)?

Short from working to add the missing weight, I'd say a mention in the
package description is fine.

> * what about clone fonts of very famous fonts (for instance, I have already
>   found and stored on my computer the following fonts: *P*aramond,
>   Garam*A*nd, *B*aramand, *I*Garamond, among others).

Well, looking up if their origin is legit (not a direct derivative of a
restricted font) is a start.

> * what about fonts that are converted from one format to another (say, ttf
>   -> pfb)?

AFAIK these conversions are not lossless but more akin to a branch of
the original font and may need quite a bit of work to get it right.

> These are some questions that have been in my mind during the last few days
> and that I would love to see addressed in a formal way.

All very good questions for which I hope to find more time to answer in
detail soon. Hope that helps anyway.

> Please, keep me CC'ed, as I'm not subscribed to the list.
> Thanks, Rogério Brito.


Nicolas Spalinger, NRSI volunteer
Debian/Ubuntu font teams / OpenFontLibrary

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