[Pkg-fonts-devel] Bug#851339: Bug#851339: Bug#851339: Bug#851339: fonts-firacode: package in Debian with non-Debian build dependencies

Fabian Greffrath fabian at debian.org
Tue Jan 17 14:29:38 UTC 2017

Paul Wise wrote:
> The issue isn't that they currently use proprietary software to
> convert to OTF format. The issue is that there is no Free Software in
> Debian main that can build the OTF from source. This is a clear
> violation of Debian policy and that indicates the package needs to be
> in contrib.

But the OTF format itself is just as suitable a source format for fonts as
any other format. Why is it so important what upstream has chosen? It is
not that font composition is a human-readable-to-binary-one-way-road like
compilation C source files into object code or HTML documentation to PDF.

> In this case, if you look at the commits to the github repo, there is
> a clear canonical source format and that is the proprietary Glyphsapp
> format that can only be converted to OTF by the proprietary Glyphsapp
> software.

Thought experiment: Would it feel more "correct" if I forked the firacode
upstream project, converted their OTF files into fontforge's SFD format,
checked these into a GIT repo and then distributed these?

> I would vastly prefer the correct source of PNG images to be
> distributed in source packages and the PNG images created at build
> time to the current, fairly horrible, situation. Choice of source
> format is up to upstream though.

Another thought experiment: We have a fairly prominent example of
binary-only Type1 fonts available in the gsfonts package. They are
licensed under the GPL, so there is even a "preferred form for
modification" term that applies to them. Nobody knows how URW++ created
these fonts and what tools they used, nevertheless a number of viable
forks have been developed from them, among them GNU FreeFont and TeX Gyre.
Now, what would happen if URW++ suddenly revealed that they used
proprietary software to create the fonts and that the files that we have
are not the canonical sources. Why should it make a difference at all?

 - Fabian

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