Core fonts packaging guidelines writer WANTED

Nicolas Mailhot nicolas.mailhot at
Thu Nov 29 09:12:52 UTC 2007


As most of you know server-side fonts accessed through the core X11
protocol (aka core fonts) were superceded by client-side
(fontconfig...) fonts in the past years.

We've finally acknowledged this fact in Fedora 8 by removing xfs and
the brutal check that killed user X sessions if more fonts were
misconfigured (the dreaded "can not find font 'fixed'"). IIRC this was
an OLPC request and I fully support this decision.

As a result the burden of keeping core fonts working moved from the
distribution as a whole to the group of people maintaining and using
the small group of legacy applications that still use them.

It seems this change was not integrated properly and several core font
packages slipped in Fedora 8 in a broken state without anyone noticing
(not through evil intent, just because the affected packages are old
crufty and the people that stridently defend core fonts use were
doing something else). For the calendar-impaired, that was before the
Fonts SIG started its activities.

To fix this situation, I call for one or several core font users to
rise to the occasion:

A. Please join the fonts SIG

B. Please write well-though core fonts packaging guidelines consistent
with the objectives of people already doing fonts work for other font
backends. That means in particular not having core font utilities
dependencies in font packages

Several possible technical solutions have already been posted on the
list, such as:
1. pre-generating fonts.* files at %build time or
2. duplicating the solution used for the fontconfig backend. That means:
  a. dynamically generating  fonts.* files in conditionnal scriptlets
(if core font tools are present on system), and
  b. have one package responsible for walking the configured core font
directories and re-generating fonts.* files when installed, and make
core font apps depend on it (so things still work if a core font
using app is installed after fonts packages are)

There may be other solutions, it's up to the core fonts community to
choose one.

Do not fall in the facility of brutaly making font packages depend on
mkfontdir, as a lot of font packages are not exposed only via the core
X11 protocol and most of their users do not want the core font stack
installed. (OLPC is such a group).

C. Please discuss your guidelines on the Fonts SIG list and among core
fonts users so we have consensus. Then get your guidelines

D. Please audit all the existing core fonts packages and make them
conform to the resulting core font guidelines, so we don't get
accidental breakage like right now

Anyone stepping in to do this will have my complete support, and I
hope the one of the whole distribution.

Otherwise Jens has indicated he may end up writing core fonts
packaging guidelines, but frankly given the level of abuse we've seen
from core font users lately I'd understand if he passed. And in the
end core fonts users would be better served by guidelines written by
less busy people who actually use the core fonts backend.

This will be my last statement on the subject. Thank you for your

Nicolas Mailhot

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