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Bitstream To Donate 10 Fonts To Free Software World 410

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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  • thank god! (Score:1, Informative)

    by smd4985 ( 203677 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:41PM (#5137965) Homepage
    i very much would like to use a linux distro full time, but i just can't stand the state of linux fonts right now. redhat 8.0 does have some nice fonts but generally the fonts used in the mozilla browsing experience just suck! i hear you can get fully anti-aliased fonts working on linux but it seems to be a bit of a chore....
  • Re:thank god! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:43PM (#5137980)
    If you're using RH8, you already have AA fonts. Mozilla might not have them, tho - that'll be rectified in future releases of Mozilla.
  • by Knacklappen ( 526643 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:47PM (#5138031) Journal
    Don't confuse font type with the way the font is displayed. Linus is not very good at displaying the fonts, unfortunately. Anti-aliasing is far off the Windows standard. However, even the best font would be affected that way. So, getting professional help with designing new fonts for Linux is great news. Just read this story [] and attached comments again, in case you do not agree at once.
  • by morbuz ( 592480 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:51PM (#5138070)
    "The donation of these fonts to the free software community is the final piece that will give full functionality to projects like 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.
  • by King Babar ( 19862 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:54PM (#5138111) Homepage
    Anyway, here's the only screenshot of the newly free fonts I could find. Now, in an attempt to be nice to this guy's server, I'll make you cut and paste this one:

    Pretty decent stuff, in my opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:55PM (#5138116)
    See? []
  • Psst -- LCD users... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgroarty ( 633843 ) <brian.mcgroarty@gmail . c om> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:57PM (#5138137) Homepage
    LCD users... wanna make those Bitstream scalables look really really nice?

    If you're running XFree86 4 and Xft as your font manager, add this to your XftConfig:

    match edit rgba = rgb; (some esoteric LCDs may need "bgr" instead.)

    Sub-pixel font rendering! Yes, it has a little visible color artifacting, but it gives you the same wonderful effect that you get with Windows XP ClearType and Mac Jaguar sub-pixel rendering.

    On my Viewsonic vp201mb, I can see fonts beautifully a couple point sizes smaller than I can see them with antialiasing alone.

  • by fault0 ( 514452 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:00PM (#5138159) Homepage Journal
    Six months ago, I'd would have agreed with you that font rendering (especially AA) in X was not up to font rendering in Windows. However, since then, Xft2 has come out, which offers even better sub-pixel antialiasing support than Microsoft Cleartype. I'm currently running xft2+XFree86 4.2.99 on gentoo, and the fonts look better on my lcd than in WindowsXP.
  • by cowbutt ( 21077 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:05PM (#5138191) Journal
    LCD users... wanna make those Bitstream scalables look really really nice?

    Enabling sub-pixel rendering on Trinitron-esque monitors also seems to work out well as they use a regular rectangular pixel layout, similar to LCD panels. I didn't expect it to work because CRTs don't have the same 1:1 relationship that LCDs have when running at their native resolution, but...


  • Re:What's the point? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:14PM (#5138277)
    The big deal is that all fonts are not created equal. While some free fonts are high quality, many of them aren't. Bitstream is one of the best-known producers of fonts, and its fonts are all known for their quality.

    Another point is that, depending on what the fonts are, they may make it possible to work in Linux, and have people on other platforms see your work the way that you intended them to see it.

    Neither of these reasons may be personally important to you if you're not a designer. But consider the fact that, if these fonts allow designers to work in Linux, then they represent a small step forward in the Linux desktop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:16PM (#5138300)

    I have released a set of fonts under the GPL (10 or so) my latest "Dustismo" is a good all purpose sans serif, with more then 350 glyphs. get them all at

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:19PM (#5138315)
    The microsoft world does very well with ARIAL, COURIER, and TIMES NEW ROMAN.

    Indeed, and according to Fontilus Bitstream were the people who made these fonts.

    I think people don't realise how hard it is to make good fonts. Arial is a huge project in and of itself, simply getting the fonts looking good at all sizes is hard, and then you need glyphs for other languages and alphabets.

    It's hard. 10 fonts is an amazing gift, if they are of high quality. I think they will be, Bitstream are good.

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:22PM (#5138330)
    I'm a doofus. Monotype Corporation made Arial.
  • Re:thank god! (Score:2, Informative)

    by palmito ( 571305 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:22PM (#5138333)
    The fonts problems on linux really blow away many people from using linux, but with a little configuring you can get them to look just as nice as in windows. Currently there are many enhancements happening in the linux font rendering.
    But as everything nowadays, the developers are having patent issues. The deal is that in order to have nice looking fonts (at least with the current fonts that are available) you have to use the BCI (Byte Code Interpreter), wich is patented, so many distros do not distribute freetype compiled with the BCI turned on (some distros don't care about it and turn the BCI on anyway, I assume this is what happens with redhat). And even when BCI is turned on, some distros really do a lousy job when configuring the fonts.
    I have mozilla running with fonts exactly like they look in windows (i did compare the fonts using vmware and they really are exactly the same) but I did have to configure many things. If you are willing to do this too check the Gentoo Forums []. Unlike what happens on other Linux distros comunities, the gentoo users don't give up until they've got it like they want (and don't mind sharing their work), so you'll probably won't have a hard time getting help in the gentoo community.
  • STIX Fonts (Score:5, Informative)

    by white-mj ( 313374 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:26PM (#5138368)
    Have you heard about STIX?

    The STIX [] fonts are going to cover all of Unicode.

    Maybe I'll never again see "?" for every non-ASCII character. Now, *that* will be useful.

    From their site:

    The STIX mission will be fully realized when:

    * Fully hinted PostScript Type 1 and OpenType font sets have been created.
    * All characters/glyphs have been incorporated into Unicode representation or comparable representation and browsers include program logic to fully utilize the STIX font set in the electronic representation of scholarly scientific documents.
  • Re:thank god! (Score:3, Informative)

    by damiam ( 409504 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:28PM (#5138389)
    Mozilla does support AA, you just have to enable it with a hidden preference []. Debian (and probably some other distros) does that by default.
  • Vera Font Family (Score:3, Informative)

    by arn@lesto ( 107672 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:32PM (#5138430) Homepage

    The 10 fonts are all from the same family "Vera". Hopefully they look good enough on the screen and on paper that people won't mind using them.

    There are at three major styles "Serif", "Sans" and "Mono", with three minor styles "regular", "italic" and "bold". Thats 9 fonts. I would guess the 10th is a set of symbols.

    I haven't been able to find samples of the family on either bitstreams site or so I would also guess that the font is renamed for copyright purposes from something else.

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:38PM (#5138465)
    If you're using Redhat 8 or Gnome 2.2 you can control subpixel font rendering from the fonts control panel. Remember that Xft is obsoleted now, so don't use this trick if you're on a very modern distro that uses fontconfig
  • Re:thank god! (Score:3, Informative)

    by FrostedWheat ( 172733 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:18PM (#5138703)
    redhat 8.0 does have some nice fonts but generally the fonts used in the mozilla browsing experience just suck!

    Try installing the XFT version of Mozilla [] .

    It's very easy to install, and looks amazing! It pains me to use any other browser on any platform. And I used to *hate* Mozilla's fonts.

  • by DuBois ( 105200 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:20PM (#5138723) Homepage
    As the first manager of support for Fontographer, I can attest to the fact that it takes a lot longer to make a quality font than you might think if you've just fiddled with Fontographer a bit. You can make a simple, low quality font in a couple of hours. To make a publication-ready font probably takes a month at least; three months for one that is completely hinted with all the Eurpean characters, etc. etc. etc. etc.

    But Your Mileage May Vary, and it's been awhile since I've actually made a font (1993 was the last time I went throught the complete process).

    If you want a complete Unicode font, well, then all bets are off, since those can be huge.

  • by jg ( 16880 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:21PM (#5138727) Homepage
    Ok, folks, here a bit more information for you.

    1) We hope a preliminary version of the fonts will be available next week for download, but no redistribution. They still need some work; consider this a beta test.

    2) We hope finished fonts will be available in a month or so, after Jim Lyles (the font designer) has finished them up. We need a few changes: the font family Vera is derived from (Prima) has "0" and "O" too hard to distinguish, and similarly for "1" and "l", given our often technical audience.

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

    When finished, they will go under a copyright which allows you (roughly) to fold, spindle, and mutilate the fonts, so long as you change the name to something else, and you can sell them so long as you don't sell them by themselves. You can sell them with any software whatsoever. You can freely redistribute the fonts anywhere, anytime, unmodified under that name.

    The sale provision is that Bitstream does not want other font vendors to just drop the fonts into their font sale mechanisms and sell them, something they are giving away.

    I can't say I blame them.

    3) the coverage of these fonts is roughly western european; there is the possibility of some fonts in the future with wider coverage, but as that those fonts are not yet complete, I don't want to say much more, as their availability is much less certain.

    4) You can get a good idea of what the fonts look like and what the coverage is by the following URL (once the slashdot effect allows Bitstream to recover). rc htext=Prima

    Now you know where the name Vera comes from :-).

    5) the agreement also covers potentially adding characters to the family under the Bitstream Vera name, but Bitstream (and Gnome) reserve the right to approve the additions: we want to *know* when we open fonts of these names that we have what we expect. Feel free to hack to your hearts content under other names, however.

  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:35PM (#5138819) Homepage
    I don't know how small you consider "small." By default, the Windows TrueType renderer ignores hints at sizes lower than 8 points. It's sort of pointless to try to gridfit pixels at that level.

    Perhaps you meant 8 pixels? Either way, that's absolutely the domain where hinting is most useful.

  • by Theom ( 567303 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:54PM (#5138984)
    Enjoy []
  • Re:STIX Fonts (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:25PM (#5139245)

    The STIX Fonts Project is an effort by a group of publishers of scientific, technical, and medical journals to create a comprehensive set of fonts that contain essentially every character that might be needed in a technical article published in any scientific discipline.

    STIX definitely won't cover all of Unicode, but they should have all the characters and ligatures for good typography in languages written with Cyrillic, Greek and Latin variants. Of course they will also have all the mathematical symbols. Unfortunately Unicode decided that mathematics was its own script worthy of encoding thus blowing away their principles of character identification. For example, the Fractur script which was previously treated only as a variant of the Latin alphabet is now also encoded in its own block, but for mathematical use only. Nevermind the invisible function application character . . . Unicode text is still inadequate and needlessly complex to encode abstract mathematics. Hopefully someone will take the STIX fonts and create some beautiful mechanism for typsetting mathematics from a non-textual abstract representation suitable for symbolic manipulation.

  • Re:Ugh, horrible (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:31PM (#5139313)
    Probably FreeType. FreeType sucks with the default settings. Looks much better with the hacked "patent-violating" version installed on my Mandrake 9 box (like 2-3 times better - it's shocking). And though nobody has ever discussed it, FreeType fucks up kerning like there's no tomorrow. The font support in X windows is still the thing that keeps me running back to Windows XP - though it's much closer to usable, my anti-aliased Phoenix/Mozilla fuck up the text when scrolling (lines of pixels lost), kerning is screwed up (particularly OpenOffice - there must be something wrong with the way it uses FreeType).

    Linux apps will keep sucking as long as each and every app does font rendering its own goddamned way. The app should tell the server what fucking text to render and where, and the server should anti-alias it and render it, and we should toss out the old apps that use the antiquated X rendering system to draw glyphs in the X client. Then just focus on making Xft/FreeType rock.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:40PM (#5139423)
    I believe Monotype made Times New Roman too. Actually, they hold the Times trademark.
  • by yomegaman ( 516565 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @08:55PM (#5140058)
    Wow, all three of your points are incorrect. Adobe didn't 'hijack' Postscript, in fact they invented it in the first place. Secondly, PDF files are not really all that similar to Postscript, except that they are both page description formats. And lastly, PDF is actually less 'proprietary' than Postscript. This was the reason why Apple ported the NeXT stuff over from Display Postscript to Quartz (really Display PDF), so that they wouldn't have to pay a license fee to Adobe. Postscript was a godsend in its day, but PDF is much better.
  • Re:thank god! (Score:3, Informative)

    by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @09:41PM (#5140380)
    If you're using RH8, you already have AA fonts.

    The current Slackware has them too. So does Mozilla, but you have to compile it with --enable-xft (IIRC), but check out fixes here [].

  • by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @09:47PM (#5140409)
    I'm a doofus. Monotype Corporation made Arial.

    You are - Monotype also made times new roman, and courier - at least on my XP and 2000 machine they did.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @10:09PM (#5140544)
    If you are looking for professional level publishing on Linux, be sure to check out Scribus.

    Scribus is a completely free (as in freedom) publishing program that works very much like Quark.

    Check it out here: []
  • by Carme ( 232239 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @10:48PM (#5140756)
    Yeah; pity you're completely wrong when you say that Verdana is a pixel font (and that Tahoma is not)

    Tahoma was designed by Matthew Carter, formerly of BitStream. He was commissioned by Microsoft to create a set of screen-friendly fonts, Verdana and Georgia being his output.

    Verdana is based of the Tahoma outlines (and looks almost identical, has been widened slightly, and hinted differently. It's true to say that it is specifically designed to look good on-screen; it's a complete fallacy to say it's a pixel font.
  • by marm ( 144733 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @05:30AM (#5141798)

    It seems to be little-known fact that fonts and typefaces are not protected by copyright.

    That's because this is not quite correct. You should read the site you link to more closely.

    There are two separate areas of copyright on a computer font, relating to the design (the shape of the letters), and the vector data - and name - that describes this design.

    In the US, the design of a typeface cannot be copyrighted, but the data and name that describes this design can be. Thus, for instance, Monotype can claim copyright over their implementation of Arial, so if you simply copy the .ttf font file without their permission, you are in breach of copyright law. However, if you print out each character of the font extra-large and then scan and trace the shapes to make a new font with a different name, you are okay - in the process of tracing the shape, you have created an original work. This is why there are so many cheap knock-offs of popular typefaces with subtly different names to the original. Funnily enough given the nature of this story, Bitstream are notorious for doing this.

    I don't think your idea of creating bitmaps from a scalable font to avoid copyright would pass muster, because you have merely translated the copyrighted data from one form to another - no different to converting the font from TrueType to Type1, for instance. You haven't created an original work.

    Note that this rather strange situation only applies to the US - just about everywhere else that enforces copyright allows designers to copyright typeface designs as well as the data that describes the design, so if you make a knock-off of a non-US designer's typeface, you might find yourself in hot water.

    Interestingly, the situation dates from the early years of American independence when all the commonly-used typeface designs were owned by foreigners and there was a shortage of skilled typographers to create distinctive American typefaces. To get around this problem, the fledgling US Patent Office simply declared typeface designs uncopyrightable, thus sparing US printers some stiff royalties. Ahhh the irony...

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

    True, but it should be noted that almost all the important typefaces of the last 200 years have been designed outside of the US... Times, Helvetica, Gill Sans, Futura, Eurostile, Rotis, Palatino, these typefaces are the backbone of modern design, and none of them came from the US.

  • copyright (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @06:18AM (#5141901)
    Unfortunately, fonts can be COPYRIGHTED!!!

    No they can't, not in the US anyway. []: "The US Copyright Office still officially refuses to accord protection for typeface designs."
    There are licensing and trademark issues, but not copyright. As the poster said, the lawyer works on intimidation, not actually getting judgements. (Unless the DMCA has radically changed this, which is possible as it seems to have all kinds of unintended consequences.)

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @07:21AM (#5142060)
    Following up myself: go to Bitstream's catalogue [], where you can select a font and "testdrive" it. This renders your text. The kerning there is fine.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!