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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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  • For publicity? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:41PM (#5137953)
    For publicity or for common good?
  • by KDan (90353) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:42PM (#5137968) Homepage
    "These fonts will be available to all developers and users, giving GNOME and other open source programs a great look right out of the box that has been lacking until now."

    They obviously haven't tried RH8.0 :-)

    Not that I'm complaining... the more fonts the better!!!

    Daniel
  • this is cool... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blinder (153117) <blinder DOT dave AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:42PM (#5137973) Homepage Journal
    ... for us design geeks who like to design on the linux platform... now if The Powers That Be would just develop something like Quark.... but I digress.

    Graphic design, its not just for the Mac any more :)
  • by Vengie (533896) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:48PM (#5138040)
    Please save the "ohh but its only 10 fonts" comments.
    The microsoft world does very well with ARIAL, COURIER, and TIMES NEW ROMAN.
    (Actually, most of the personal computing world does fairly well with these fonts)
    I used CHICAGO, TIMES and BOOKMAN exclusively for years on a Mac LCII.
    The crux of the issue is that these should be high quality fonts. THAT is a big deal. Kerning is a huge pain.
    "ae" vs "lk" vs "ld" vs "dl" vs "kl" -- spacing changes more than you think. Amen, hallelujah...now lets just see how they look.
  • by pyite69 (463042) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:50PM (#5138062)

    Sets of fonts that are the exact same size as the
    standard Microsoft fonts (e.g. Arial). This is
    one of the key problems when trying to export
    files from Open Office to an MS Word user - the
    fonts end up not matching correctly and things
    look funny.

    My $.02.
  • Re:For publicity? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by schmink182 (540768) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <281knimhcs>> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:52PM (#5138083) Homepage
    For publicity or for common good?

    Who care's. We have them either way.

  • by valisk (622262) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:52PM (#5138091) Homepage Journal
    If the license lasts longer than the patents mentioned then we are pretty much in the clear
  • by Unkle (586324) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:56PM (#5138128)
    The press release did not say that ONLY Gnome could use this, it just said that Gnome _would_ use it. And that other open source projects could use these fonts. The Gnome foundation, however, probably won't do the development for KDE.
  • Double Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:08PM (#5138217) Homepage Journal

    While the main story here is Bitstream's magnanmous gesture to the open source community, I could not help but notice Jim Gettys comments that showed how he viewed the action as important, too, to KDE, despite being on the GNOME board.

    "...Freetype, XFT2 and X Render extensions of the XFree86 project, Pango, KDE and Trolltechs QT, among many others." said Jim Gettys of HP and GNOME Foundation board member.
    I like to see the 2 desktop projects recognize their mutual needs and their mutual strengths.

    And I'm hoping that someday there will be a bridge between Bonobo and KParts, too.

  • Re:Most of us (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:08PM (#5138228) Journal
    >> I've got Adobe fonts, Bitstream fonts, Microsoft fonts

    Possibly not legally, and definately not Free. Some fonts that ship with MS Office are explicitly for use with MS Office, etc. They do have a free (cost) pack of fonts for use in alternate web browsers, but whether or not it's OK to use them for linux I'm not sure (I know Redhat doesn't enable them by default). I'm not positive, but I think there's something about them being free for use only to liscensees of windows. All of which is MS's perogative, since they are their fonts.

    Anyways, some Free (libre) fonts, if indeed they are *usable* and not garbage like 'Carebearz' or 'Stoner handwriting', make linux just a little bit more legitimate on the desktop than it did an hour ago. It still has lightyears to go, however.
  • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:13PM (#5138273)
    The problem isn't free fonts, the problem is high-quality and Free (as in freedom) fonts. Sure you can download I don't know how many free beer fonts from the net, but they are either 1) not freely redistributable or 2) for fun only; not optimized for actual ready or 3) low-quality.

    BitStream is donating high-quality AND Free fonts here! So soon we will get Linux distros with high-quality fonts out-of-the-box.
  • by Chasuk (62477) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:21PM (#5138323)
    You're right - you really don't understand. Yes, free fonts are available from multiple places, but most of them are shite.


    Lousy font rendering/choice is one of the last major hurdles in Linux desktop adoption. It stymied me until last year, when Redhat 8 made the Linux desktop viewable without me wanting to chunder.


    Yes, you are missing the point.

  • by pcardoso (132954) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:21PM (#5138329) Homepage
    Most free fonts are badly done. I don't question the look of the fonts themselves, but most don't have the international (accented) characters, so writing anything other than english is dificult.

    If these fonts feature a complete character set and are as high quality as anything you get from a fresh install of windows (except that ugly Comic Sans) and macOS, then we're in luck.

    Show a screenshot for some Linux program for a windows only user and the first thing he'll notice is that the fonts are ugly, if it's not a RH8.0 linux system. The font rendering in RH8 is very good.

    Now if only I didn't have to install the fonts all over the place for GTK1, GTK2, QT, TCL/TK and all the other toolkits so they can see the same fonts....
  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:32PM (#5138434) Homepage Journal
    I'm currently running xft2+XFree86 4.2.99 on gentoo, and the fonts look better on my lcd than in WindowsXP.

    The big difference, In Windows any application will use AA fonts by default. In Linux, your application needs to have AA compiled in via a supported method. Gentoo does this better, as its a source based distro, you configure it yourself. Redhat has to precompile the source with AA enable (via its supported methods).

    Lots of dependencies on Linux, makes it is much more difficult to enable and use AA fonts. Also helps if you know what methods to enable, and configurations. (I dont have them, do you? Is your method the best? Is it a hack? Was it the correct supported procedure? Did it break anything?) Ugh. Good job for Redhat for trying to make it easy for the average/newbie linux user.
  • by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:43PM (#5138497) Homepage
    Hmm. Not that I don't appreciate Bitstream's gift, but ugh, the kerning on those looks terrible -- especially the serif font. Look at the s in "Bitstream" -- it's smashed right up against the first t and a jarringly long way from the second. And the e seems to have a lot of space on both sides.
  • by Eightlines (536572) <brent@eightlines.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:47PM (#5138522) Homepage
    Amen. I think the cynicism in these messages is uncalled for. Bitstream at one time produced a great product that embedded fonts into the website while making sure they were restricted to the domain they were posted on. They've shown awareness of Type Designers copyright priveledges. They led the way to a W3C proposal. And now I have to read comments about the possibility of the fonts being released being "crappy"?

    Months ago another font article was written about MS pulling their fonts from their site. The /. crowd wrote that more people should create fonts and release them to the opensource community. Now that we are getting them this is what you respond with?

    10 Fonts (not typefaces, fonts - there is a difference) that are properly designed can take years to produce. There is no science behind fonts, its an art. Its something type designers take very seriously and its a whole different geek culture. Sure we have Arial, Courier, Helvetica, but one typeface is not good in all cases. Think about how many different typefaces you have seen in Newspapers, TV, Film, etc. For each their own purpose. If people can learn to apply the styles of good typography to their projects then we all benefit through better legibility, readability, and aesthetic means.

    Personally, I really hope one of the fonts is Stone.
  • About time!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ponos (122721) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:49PM (#5138532)

    This is excellent news, indeed.

    Good fonts are (a) very hard to design,
    (b) rare, (c) expensive and (d) tremendously
    important for the feeling of your desktop.

    No matter what you say, it takes a special
    kind of artistic ability to make good fonts.

    This news is much more important than a 10%
    speedup or a "new gadget" type of feature.

    P.

    P.S. Also note, that a "full" font includes
    italics, bold, small capitals and quite a few
    symbols. Many free fonts are incomplete in
    that respect.

  • by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:52PM (#5138546) Homepage
    Seriously, I'm perplexed. I understand that making a really nice, readable font is a lot of work -- I've even played around with Fontographer. Getting the kerning and hinting and everything right is both tedious and difficult. But is it actually next to impossible? Is it harder than making a whole Unix-like kernel from scratch? Or the whole rest of a Unix-like OS?

    At the very least, why doesn't someone like Red Hat or even IBM hire a top-notch font designer and have him/her just make a few? How long does it take someone with good skills to make a good, basic font? A year? Six months? Two years?
  • by King Babar (19862) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:03PM (#5138616) Homepage
    Hmm. Not that I don't appreciate Bitstream's gift, but ugh, the kerning on those looks terrible--especially the serif font.

    Yes, but you should take heart that this is just what the first guy who just punched text into AbiWord on his notebook got. We will see better.

    I mean, right now you'd have to think that there are hints not being used here, or being used in a particularly sucky^H^H^Hboptimal fashion. So the "ts" problem you note is much worse in Vera Serif 16 than in the 24.

    What gives me great hope is the look of the Vera Mono Sans font. Now, there's a font, people. Before you pick apart the licensing or whine about not getting Centaur or what not, have a look at this. I, I, might even have to end my love affair with Lucida Sans Typewriter (sniff).

  • Re:How similar... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WWWWolf (2428) <wwwwolf@iki.fi> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:04PM (#5138621) Homepage

    Erm... Times New Roman, Arial and Courier New already have high-quality equivalents in OSS world: Times, Helvetica and Courier. There versions that come with XFree86 are crap, but there are high-quality Type1 versions of them available, made by URW. You can get them from the GIMP web page [gimp.org].

    Okay, I'm not a typographer (just play one on Slashdot), so I think those just look good enough. =)

  • Ideology (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a (568518) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:10PM (#5138657) Journal
    For publicity or for common good?

    I doubt it's because of similar ideology. :-)

    "Setting the standard for excellence in font technology, Bitstream
    holds numerous key patents in the U.S. that cover the
    creation of portable fonts for the Internet. Building
    on this experience, Bitstream has released
    ThunderHawk, a breakthrough technology for the
    wireless Web."


    Not a big deal right now, but I see friction in the upcoming years as more people come in contact with the Open Source world and cultures clash -- the current corporate view of intellectual property and legal systems for supporting it in the United States don't fit very well with it...

    Ah, well. I shouldn't be such a downer right after such a good event. Thank you, Bitstream!
  • by Jester99 (23135) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:22PM (#5138740) Homepage
    How many fonts do you really use in your daily life? I probably use five for 95% of my time on a computer.

    Furthermore, no license today really addresses fonts; open source licenses tend to make provisions for source code and computer programs, or else "open content", e.g., printed words. It would kind of seem natural to craft a new license that addresses font issues.
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:24PM (#5138750) Journal
    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.

    Almost certainly little or nothing. MS already has an unlimited license. However, it has a good deal of worth to Apple in that it adds value to their system in the publishing field -- higher quality font rendering. It's a lovely barrier to entry, and gives Apple an excellent leg up over its competitors (BSD, Linux, etc). I doubt Apple will be giving out licenses any time soon.
  • Linux gets fonts? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:22PM (#5139209)
    I thought Linux was a kernel...
  • by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:30PM (#5139302) Homepage
    Those look pretty nice -- I'll probably put some of 'em in the next BU Linux distro. But how about a really nice basic serifed text font? Something that can be the default font in a web browser?
  • by nagora (177841) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:41PM (#5139430)
    I mean, I can check out the ClearType algorithm for myself, and it's very sound and rigorously defined. What's the new one? Which journals has it been published in? Or is it just a hack?

    Or you could just look at the result, DUH!.

    If for some reason you think the theory is more important than the result, read the source code.

    TWW

  • by riceboy50 (631755) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @08:04PM (#5139610)
    I agree that anti-aliasing works very well under gentoo which generally has the bleeding edge newest packages. I always thought fonts sucked under linux but that was when I was still stuck in Red Hat. Once I found the light (Gentoo) everything was better. Just MHO. My advice for people who want nicer display, Red Hat 8 has a proprietary desktop environment now called "Bluecurve", but for the more adventurous here, you must try Gentoo and set up AA. I even imported all my windoze fonts and they work great.
  • by nlinecomputers (602059) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @08:57PM (#5140063)
    I am writing this on XP. Why? Because although I use Linux for my server and have Linux desktops I can't make the break with MS totally. Why because Linux fonts are so ugly and hard to read that I get eye strain.

    I think alot a potential users are turned off by the sloppy appearance of Linux on the screen.

    This is but one step in the direction of having Linux more accepted on the desktop. Redhat understands this. That is why Bluecurve was created. It still isn't good enough but it is better. If Openoffice and Mozilla out of the box can use these new fonts then you might have something to kill Windows with.

    Just my worthless .02 cents.
  • pfaedit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marm (144733) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @09:36PM (#5140334)

    I have to say that what Linux really needs is a free top-notch vector font editor, something along the lines of Fontographer.

    You mean, like pfaedit? [sourceforge.net] It's almost a carbon copy of Fontographer, and very good it is for editing fonts too.

    The tools (pfaedit) have been usable for about 18 months though, but still no-one is having a serious go at fixing fonts. I don't think people realise just how much time and effort goes into a font. My day job is as a graphic designer, I draw things all day, mostly using vector graphics, so I like to think I have a handle on what I'm doing and I can draw with curves quicker than most. In a past life I put together a couple of typefaces for a corporate client, and this is from my experience of that (I used Fontographer to begin with, then switched to Fontlab later on because Fontographer can't do TrueType hinting worth a damn - I do wish pfaedit had cloned Fontlab).

    To go from nothing but an idea to a set of outlines covering iso-8859-1, that's about 4-5 days of solid full-time work - for a fairly simple sans-serif font in regular weight - add another day each for bold, italic and bold italic, add some more on if it's a more complicated style of typeface. Getting the kerning (spacing between characters) right is another couple of days work if you want it perfect.

    Then, the nightmare part - hinting. Hinting... let's just say it's about as fun as pulling teeth without anaesthetic. To get good results on-screen, you need to allow about 2-3 hours - per character. If you want it to work correctly on more than one platform, double that. Fortunately lots of characters in the iso-8859-1 set are compound, formed of a letter and various accents and so forth, so you can just copy and paste these, but still you can easily end up spending several weeks on it - and it's the most unrewarding, boring and soul-destroying work I've ever done. Then repeat for bold, italic and bold italic.

    It's all very well saying that people will re-hint dodgy fonts for fun, but you try it and see how long you last before giving up and going back to something rewarding, like writing an IRC client or GIMPing together a new wallpaper. I hope FreeType's autohinter everntually gets good enough that we can just give up on hinting.

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