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Bitstream To Donate 10 Fonts To Free Software World 410

Posted by timothy
from the some-gnus-is-good-gnus dept.
21mhz writes "Posted on FootNotes: The GNOME Foundation and Bitstream Inc. announce long-term agreement to bring high quality fonts to Free Software. Ten fonts will be released for use under a special open license agreement, giving advanced font capabilities to all free and open source software developers and users. Read the full press release for more details." Modification and re-release (under a different name) is explicitly allowed, too.
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Bitstream To Donate 10 Fonts To Free Software World

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  • It's only 10 fonts. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gentoo Fan (643403) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:42PM (#5137969) Homepage
    Also, if it's open source, why it is "long term"? They said "special license" but they didn't post the license itself.
  • Most of us (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:44PM (#5137987)
    I've got lots of fonts already; I've got Adobe fonts, Bitstream fonts, Microsoft fonts, etc.. I just wish that the default configuration on my Red Hate 8 box didn't make them all look like crap.

    Honestly, I'm glad that Bitstream is a good enough community player to donate these. Only problem is our community is served a whole lot more by quality than it is by quantity.
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EmeraldSpirit (643151) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:49PM (#5138045)
    I guess I just don't understand the big deal here. You can get free fonts from multiple places - why is this nothing more than a bit of free publicity for the company? And since the article didn't state which fonts - how would one know that its going to be useful? They put out this article - get the publicity - and all they have to do is give away really arcane or unused fonts. Am I missing the point?
  • by mpconnelly (255054) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:51PM (#5138072)
    If these fonts were bundled with Mozilla and similar browsers, we could have more variety in our web pages (i.e. not just Arial, Courier, and Times Roman) without font-embedding (which never worked very well anyway).

    Now if only we could see these fonts... There's no match for Vera on the Bitstream font search.
  • How similar... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dyj (590807) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:52PM (#5138079)
    are the fonts with common TrueType fonts such as Times New Roman, Ariel, and Courier? It would still be annoying if one does not have good substitutes for these common fonts in the free software world.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:13PM (#5138272) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I've always thought that the big advantage of Windows antialiasing is that it turns off when the text is small enough. Every time I try to enable the antialiasing in FreeBSD/Linux, I discover that the mechanism to disable antialiasing below a certain pixel size is either broken or nonfunctional. Antialiasing small text makes it fuzzy and hard to read.

    As a caveat, some people always hate antialising. Even in Windows they dive right for the "Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts" checkbox. All programs that antialias should include a simple method for disabling it, or you are going to annoy some of your users.
  • Re:What's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:15PM (#5138293) Homepage
    The font is the Vera family; there's links in other comments to pictures.

    And yes, it _is_ a big deal. Slapping together a half-decent font able to show the 7-bit ascii characters in a few sizes isn't all that much work. Making a high-quality, well designed font that will work over the entire iso8859-1 (or even Unicode) with proper hinting and good visibility over a large range of sizes and resolutions, takes a _lot_ of time and effort.

  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:20PM (#5138322) Homepage Journal
    I didnt see the fonts listed. Does the fonts released include "zapfdingbats" and "lucida sans"? I can add lucida via MS fonts, but zapfdingbats is copyrighted, and not avail for download. (Except for Adobe Typeset on windows.)

    Many production X Window software seem to use these 2 fonts, and xfree doesnt include them. No loss, but I see the error all the time, on many applications. (Do a google search, it is a common problem)

    aka..
    Font specified in font.properties not found [-b&h-lucida sans-medium-r-normal-sans-*-%d-*-*-p-*-iso8859-1]
    Font specified in font.properties not found [-urw-itc zapfdingbats-medium-r-normal--*-%d-*-*-p-*-sun-fon tspecific]
  • How many glyphs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord of the Fries (132154) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:23PM (#5138346) Homepage
    The press release says the Vera font. What I really want is a well populated decent looking scalable unicode font. Will this be just iso-1? or well populated across all of unicode?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:25PM (#5138361)
    I don't know the exact history of TTF's, but didn't Apple develop them?

    Apple seems to have benefitted from the free software community by utilizing KHTML for it's new browser. Could it return the favor by donating some of it's TTF's for use in Linux/Xfree?

  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:35PM (#5138453) Homepage
    Apple seems to have benefitted from the free software community by utilizing KHTML for it's new browser. Could it return the favor by donating some of it's TTF's for use in Linux/Xfree?

    Other than the fact that Apple have released very little stuff they developed themselves, they'd have been better off giving FreeType an unlimited license to TrueType hinting, instead of forcing them to develop an auto-hinter. It wouldn't have even cost anything, I don't know how much they make out of these royalties but I doubt it's much. Yet they do not.

  • Fonts and copyright (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ortholattice (175065) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:38PM (#5138470)
    It seems to be little-known fact that fonts and typefaces are not protected by copyright. The only thing that can be copyrighted is any software underlying the generation of fonts, such as software that interprets hints and presumably the hints themselves. This is how e.g. TrueType fonts achieve some copyright protection. However if you're willing to live with a set of fixed point sizes you can freely copy and use the bitmaps they place on the screen, to create your own font collection, as I understand it. (This is my take on what I've read; IANAL.)

    There is a movement underfoot called TypeRight [typeright.org] advocating copyright protection for fonts. The site also explains some of the copyright issues.

    It interesting that the lack of copyright protection has apparently not hindered the creation of a wide variety of fonts.

  • by SlowMovingTarget (550823) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:39PM (#5138474) Homepage
    Applying antialiasing to screen fonts makes them harder to read. See
    Joel on Software for the complete argument: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/printerFriendly/arti cles/fog0000000041.html [joelonsoftware.com]
  • by King Babar (19862) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:44PM (#5138505) Homepage
    OK, so I haven't seen it anywhere yet, but a logical guess as to the set of *10* fonts we are likely to see would be:
    • Bitstream Vera Sans
    • Bitstream Vera Sans Italic
    • Bitstream Vera Sans Bold
    • Bitstream Vera Sans Bold Italic
    • Bitstream Vera Serif
    • Bitstream Vera Serif Italic
    • Bitstream Vera Serif Bold
    • Bitstream Vera Serif Bold Italic
    • Bitstream Vera Sans Mono
    • Bitstream Vera Sans Mono Bold

    That said, the notion of a "Bitstream Vera" font is rather obscure on the net according to google. There *is* a set of multilingual fonts that go under the "Vera Humana" name; maybe Bitstream bought or adapted these? So where are the font experts when you need them? :-)

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bicho (144895) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:55PM (#5138563)
    Its not only the quality.
    I really hope at least two of them are near-complete set of unicode/utf-8 fonts

    That'd be great!

    and maybe an application oriented to the creation of vectorized fonts for linux would be cool too, but thats another slightly related story
  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:00PM (#5138600) Homepage Journal

    This is a very nice gesture by Bitstream. The one thing I don't like is the constant harping in the press release that this will finally make Linux look good.

    Of course, the Gnome Foundation can hardly say anything else, as they would otherwise ruin the good PR for Bitstream, but frankly, I don't think anything is wrong with the fonts right now, with the exception of distros picking dumb defaults, and idiots with a two-day course in using Frontpage building websites. Try surfing the web with 'Use own fonts' on in Galeon, and then viewing the same pages with the specified fonts. If you want a headache, that'll give it to you (sadly, Open Source oriented sites are not free of this evil neither. On default settings NewsForge is unreadable because it picks a sans-serif font in small type, a typographical no-no if there ever was one for a site where the information is supposed to be primarily textual).

    After picking the right fonts, I have never felt the need for anti-aliased fonts on my desktop. My text is clear and sharp at 1280x1024, and even my laptop at 1024x768 on 14.4inch screen looks fairly good. Certainly nothing like the headache-inducing nightmare some of the people on this thread want us to believe.

    Of course, that I get a nice desktop look with using Adobe fonts for all my settings just proves the point I made in the second paragraph. And the fact that these fonts come standard with X reinforces it.

    Still, a big thank you to Bitstream is in order. Whatever the motives, this was a good thing.

    Mart
  • by dmeranda (120061) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:20PM (#5138722) Homepage
    This is a VERY welcome bit of goodwill by Bitstream, especially considering how IP paranoid most font foundaries usually are. I do hope that they encode the fonts to allow embedding and subsetting (as many "free" fonts in the past have inadvertantly dissallowed that). Also I hope these fonts contain the full Unicode repertoire (as much as makes sense), and not just the Latin-1 subset.

    But I am still anxiously awaiting Adobe to release free versions of their Base PDF fonts. Adobe always makes a big deal about the PDF format being "open" (albeit completely controlled by them). But the one MAJOR non-open component of PDF are the non-open base fonts! Sure the font metrics, aka AFM files, are free (but they hide them very well in the bowels of their ftp site), but not the font outlines.

    Come on Adobe, please follow Bitstream's lead and release your base PDF fonts! You can't claim PDF is open until you release the fonts. (Perhaps the same goes for Postscript which has a larger set of Base/Mandatory fonts?)
  • by Dustismo (643898) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:25PM (#5138754) Homepage
    cheapskatefonts.com [cheapskatefonts.com] All released under GPL, all designed by yours truely.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:30PM (#5138786)
    If the license lasts longer than the patents mentioned then we are pretty much in the clear

    Unfortunately, fonts can be COPYRIGHTED!!!

    Yes, you too can own a life+70 year (or 90-year corporate) monopoly, compliments of your bought-and-paid for congress critters and a cowardly Supreme Court that chooses quarterly economic expediency over constitutionality. You too can own a government entitlement to a very long-term monopoly on the very shape of the letters of the Roman alphabet.

    A friend of mine does computer consultancy for law firms, among them a thug, excuse me, lawyer, who makes his living enforcing a copyright on a particlar font (I don't recall which one). How does this enforcement work? Not through the courts, as one might expect, but more in terms of a protection racket shakedown: "remove your fonts and pay us X for past violations, keep your fonts and pay us X+Y for a license of some specified term, or we'll make your defense cost more than your net worth."

    Copyright AND patents are destroying the freedom of information exchange, and will likely obliterate it within our lifetimes unless some serious reform is undertaken, something that does not appear too likely in todays political climate, which has recently come to resemble corporate fascism more than even a semblance of democracy...but that is a discussion for another day.

    In other words, the licensing terms and term are important, and if this proves as benevolent as it first appears, this is a very, very good thing for free software.
  • by diatonic (318560) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:44PM (#5138896) Homepage
    Quark still doesn't have a Mac OS X version... I'd rather see Adobe InDesign for Linux (not with a crappy Wine port the way Corel ported the CorelDRAW suite.)

    Port you apps to Linux Adobe, and I'll be a loyal customer for life :)

    .:diatonic:.
  • Re:Most of us (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:45PM (#5138907) Homepage
    I use slackware, with the and the fonts look just fine. What you could try doing is this:

    1) copy c:\windows\fonts\*.ttf into (say) /usr/share/fonts/ttf
    2) get ttmkfdir (search freshmeat) and do ttmkfdir > fonts.dir; cp fonts.dir fonts.scale
    3) add the line FontPath "/usr/share/fonts/ttf" to the files section of /etc/X11/XF86Config
    4) restart X
    5) if it's Profit!!! then I'm missing out on something.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:30PM (#5139300)
    First, thanks to you and Bitstream for your work!

    >There is also some work on hinting, etc, to finish up.

    It's good to know we'll be getting a set of manually hinted fonts. But what about those of us (possibly the majority?) who have TrueType bytecode hinting disabled in our FreeType builds? Do these glyphs render well when hinted with FreeType's autohinter?

    It would be a shame for the fonts to work well only when the patented bytecode interpretter is enabled in FreeType...

  • by jg (16880) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:37PM (#5139388) Homepage
    The fonts look pretty good even with the Freetype hinter turned off: part of the reason why is that we do anti-aliasing these days. And the autohinter in freetype continues to improve (which also avoids the patents).

    And Linux is even more important/likely to get to serious volume in parts of the world where the TrueType patents do not apply: they are only US and Britain.
  • by rh2600 (530311) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @08:02PM (#5139587) Homepage
    A typeface is a family of lettershapes. These lettershapes are grouped in versions (bold, italic, condensed etc) and were originally placed in little cases. Usually a type setter had two cases, one for capitals and underneath one for non-capitals, this is where we get upper and lower case.

    Now, one particular typeface such as Optima, may have many fonts such as a bold font, italic etc. In fact many type foundries have their own versions of a particular typeface. TrueType and OpenType can compile these into one font file (just to make things more confusing).

    So my point is this: While bitsream is licensing ten fonts, it is really only one family. There does seem to be both serif and sans serif versions, so it will probably feel like two or three quite different typefaces.
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @06:51AM (#5141963)
    the kerning on those looks terrible

    Yes, actually it looks like no kerning at all. Kerning is usually a function of the application, not the OS. Word, for instance, in different versions had working or broken pair kerning. That's one reason you use a DTP app (Ventura, Pagemaker, etc) instead of a word processor.

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