[Pkg-fonts-devel] Bug#797627: ITP: fonts-hack -- Typeface designed for source code

Paul Wise pabs at debian.org
Mon Sep 7 06:15:32 UTC 2015

On Mon, Sep 7, 2015 at 7:02 AM, Fabian Greffrath wrote:
> Am Freitag, den 04.09.2015, 23:40 +0200 schrieb Paride Legovini:
>> What do you think? What are more precisely the Debian requirements
>> for the build process of its packages?
> I think we should approach this with pragmatism.

I think we should talk to upstreams and find out how they produce
their fonts, then work with them to ensure they are using best
practices; distributing their source materials in a VCS repository and
offering automatic methods for creating binary font files from their
source materials.

> In the end, fonts are  - like graphics - a piece of artwork distributed
> in a binary format which is just as editable as any other arbitrarily
> chosen file format. There is no canonical "source format" for fonts
> that could be considered their "prefered form for making
> modifications". This differentiates fonts (and graphics) from e.g.
> binary blobs which are just obfuscated source code.

In the end, some graphics formats are more expressive and easier to
edit than other formats, just like with ELF files and C code. For
example it is almost impossible to adjust the blend mode of one layer
in a multi-layer bitmap after rendering it to a final PNG file. It is
almost impossible to adjust a curve in a vector image after rendering
it to a bitmap image. For fonts the same is less true due to the tools
making it easy to reverse engineer and edit binary fonts. There are
tools to reverse engineer and edit ELF binaries too, but the DFSG
isn't about practical editability but about equality of access to
forms of a work. People downloading source packages from Debian should
have equal access to font source materials as upstream. The source
materials could be everything from design ideas through sketches,
automatic hint generation, automatic weight generation, auto-subset
scripts, UFO files or whatever the designers used to arrive at a final
product. Of course that is an ideal world and today most font
designers don't nessecarily publish or even keep their actual source
materials AFAIK. We should talk to font designers and ask them how
they produce fonts because it all depends on how upstream approaches
the production of their font.

> So, as long as the license premits this, I think that redistributing
> font files as they come should be considered alright. For example, I do
> exact this in the fonts-croscore and fonts-crosextra-* packages.

I agree for some cases (fonts-mph-damase for eg) but I think the
answer is case dependent and we need to talk to upstream up-front to
find out.



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