Draining the font swamp

Denis Jacquerye moyogo at gmail.com
Sun May 20 23:09:28 BST 2007

On 5/19/07, Matt Zimmerman <mdz at ubuntu.com> wrote:
> There has been some confusion and dissatisfaction over the treatment of
> fonts in Ubuntu for a some time now, and no common understanding of how to
> improve the situation.  I spent a little time thinking about this today, and
> would like to present some questions whose answers I hope will help us to
> make some progress.
> Please correct me where I've misunderstood, as I've only done some cursory
> research here.
> We seem to have:
> - Loads of fonts, in various formats (TrueType, Type-1/PostScript, PCF
>   bitmap, Metafont, others?) supporting various character sets, of varying
>   quality
A fresh Ubuntu install comes with around 100 fonts, many of which or
totally useless to most people who use only one or two scripts. What's
even worst is that many are even useless for people who just want
basic fonts in several scripts. Right now fonts packages mix screen
fonts, print fonts, decorative fonts, experimental fonts.
There's a bug sitting around about the issue
I really think font packages should be split by font families and/or
by font category.
Fonts packages should be split and their general utility should be assessed.

For example, arab eyes fonts should be split in at least 2 or 3
packages: basic, extra and decorative ; or dejavu split in 2 packages:
standard and experimental/condensed.

> - Which fonts are any good, and for which languages (no easy answer here)
For some languages the answer is already there since there isn't much choice.
The basic requirements are screen fonts, i.e. fonts good enough to be
used for the interface or basic reading, as well as widely standard
The second type of fonts is good for printing, and offer more
aesthetic variety, these should be installed by default with the
appropriate language support. They could be cut off if we want to cut
down the number of total fonts on a language neutral install.
Optionaly, decorative fonts that one would use rarely could be
available as individual packages (or grouped in meta-packages).

> - Which criteria are important for selecting which font to use in which
>   context (language, character set, ...)

We need a smarter font selector as well as some kind of font organizer
for people with large collections of fonts (currently anyone).
Fontconfig can tell if a font is useful in a language, the font
organizer should use that information for the user. The font selector
should limit the list of displayed fonts to what's been recently used
and what's considered useful in the locale, with a more font option
for all the others.

There are some good ideas at http://www.unifont.org/fontdialog/

That's what I think would make more sense.

Denis Moyogo Jacquerye

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