[LONG] State of the Fedora Fonts SIG

Nicolas Mailhot nicolas.mailhot at laposte.net
Sun Mar 16 15:24:22 UTC 2008

Hi all,

Since it's Fedora 9 feature freeze/beta release time, I thought it would
be good to take a look at what happened during the Fedora 8 cycle on the
fonts front and make an advancement summary. This is mostly the same
thing as in the release notes but much more detailed and contributor,
not user oriented.

A. Infrastructure/background work

1. a Fonts SIG was created, with the associated infrastructure
   wiki : http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/SIGs/Fonts
   mailing lists : http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/SIGs/Fonts#ML

2. Font packaging documentation was written,reviewed and approved by FPC
(the fonts spec template was added to rpmdevtools and will be available
whenever a new rpmdevtools release is made hint hint)

3. Legal rules for fonts within Fedora were clarified, 

4. A long list of potential packageable floss fonts was written
   (Given the usual font licensing mess, that's no small feat, many
thanks to Máirín Duffy who contributed most of it)

5. Work is under way to identify upstream font-related problems that
affect Fedora, in the hope Fedora developers can contribute to their
fixing, and Fedora users can comment in the upstream issues trackers and
make them a priority upstream

B. Distribution changes

1. As a result of the licensing rules clarification, some historic
RHL/Fedora fonts were dropped (Luxy, Syriac fonts, etc)

Hunky was dropped from the release for lack of userbase (early Bitstream
Vera derivative, since then completely deprecated in favour of DejaVu)

2. New font tools (xgridfit…) were packaged, others (fontforge) updated

3. New fonts were packaged
   Greek Font Society fonts (13 fonts, Greek and Latin support)
   Stix (math and engineering symbols)
   Tiresias (low-vision latin fonts)
   Samyak and Sarai fonts (indic support)
   Thaifonts-scalable (Thai support)
   The WenQuanYi Zen Hei (Chinese sans-serif font)
   Inconsolata (monospace font)
   Silkscreen, Yanone Kaffeesatz (art fonts)
   efont (bitmap terminal font)

4. Efforts were expended to classify fonts in comps a bit better

5. The two main distribution fonts, DejaVu and Liberation were updated
to new versions increasing unicode coverage. DejaVu replaced DejaVu LGC
as default font set at the beginning of the Fedora 9 cycle. Since I know
this is all very nebulous, here are some numbers

   Fedora 8 sans-serif default fonts at release time:
      DejaVu LGC Sans: 3768 glyphs (2.19)
      Liberation Sans:  668 glyphs (0.2)
      DejaVu Sans:     4959 glyphs (2.20)
      (would prempt the two others, but not installed by default)

  Current Fedora devel ans-serif default fonts:
      DejaVu Sans:     5270 glyphs (2.24)
      Liberation Sans:  668 glyphs (1.0, many fixes in the 0.2 glyphs)

C. What remains to be done (short-term)

1. Package more fonts.

   We now have a font packager-friendly environment. With clear
packaging guidelines and a huge font wishlist, packaging work now mostly
consists in contacting upstreams to make them release files in
packageable state (with license, versions, etc) and filling in the
standard font spec template.

   Thus we mainly need motivated packagers. The work is not hard, if
time consuming, and there's no way the current team can do it all by
itself. Spreading the load would help a lot.

2. Get bugs fixed upstream

  Unfortunately Linux problems are somewhat low on the radar or projects
like Firefox and Mozilla, and problems of Linux users that didn't copy
Windows fonts even lower. We need more people to comment/vote on the
issues referenced in 

I could write a lot more, but this is long enough so it will have to do.
Do not hesitate to send comments or ask questions on on the SIG list.


Nicolas Mailhot
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