[Pkg-fonts-devel] RFC: Planning an Intial Font Policy

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at sil.org
Wed Nov 10 12:38:38 UTC 2010

On 10/11/10 04:12, Paul Wise wrote:
> 2010/11/10 Rogério Brito <rbrito at ime.usp.br>:
>> What about us writing an initial proposal for a font policy, formalizing
>> what we have done so far, and where we want to get?
> Sounds good.

Yes, that would be useful. My time is limited but I will send some notes
and thoughts I have jotted down somewhere on this soon.

> We should take a look at the Fedora fonts policy:
> http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Fonts_packaging_policy

Yes, our friends @ Fedora have done great work improving the overall
font situation in that particular environment and documenting their
policies. Even if we choose to do things in a more Debian-specific way
it certainly is good inspiration :-)


>>  What about
>>  typefaces that are in the public domain with no easy way to trace the
>>  original designer?

IMHO we should stay clear of these fonts often of dubious origin and
raising a lot of hairy issues for little overall gain. Better focus on
the truly libre/open fonts. I think there's enough work already focusing
on fonts with identified origins, authorship and cleaning up left-over
bugs our archive via the review: http://pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org/review/

> My vote goes for the Fedora scheme with a fonts-/font- prefix.

I agree, mine too.

>>  How should we name the packages of fonts like, say, a font comissioned by
>>  Microsoft, published by the Free Software Foundation and actually drawn by
>>  Vincent Van Gogh, under, say, the OFL 1.1? And what about (since the OFL
>>  1.1 allows) to make a derivative work? Who should be kept in the names,
>>  and who should not?
> In the modified Fedora scheme, this would be font-someproject or maybe
> font-fsf-someproject.

Giving some prominence to the name of the foundry is useful. (or
possibly name of the author if it's a one-man foundry).
Specific authors and commissioning organisations can always be indicated
in the descriptions/documentation/etc.

>>  What about the Karl Berry Naming Scheme?
> That seems to be mainly for old filesystems with character limits
> (FAT16/DOS). I don't think such systems are very relevant to Debian.

Yes, only relevant to a former age of TeX now thankfully superseded.

>> * Where should we install the fonts?
>>  * /usr/share/fonts/$format/$foundry-$name/$filename?
>>  * /usr/share/fonts/$format/$foundry/$name/$filename?
>>  * /usr/share/fonts/$format/$format-$foundry-$name/$filename?
> The bikeshed shall be painted /usr/share/fonts/$format/$package/$filename

Yes, the synchronisation between folder name and package name is useful
to have IMHO. IIRC some fonts currently live at the root of
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/ which is less than ideal.

>> * In the package long descriptions, what about adding some metadata to the
>>  long descriptions so that the user knows if a given font has serifs or
>>  not? If it gives us an italic shape? If it gives us a bold weight? Demi
>>  bold? Light? Extra light? Oblique?
> Sounds reasonable as long as the information is short.

Yes, I agree.

>>  What about if the font has support for some uncommon OpenType feature (or
>>  any cool feature of whatever advanced feature that our format-du-jour
>>  happens to have)?
> Sounds reasonable as long as the information is short.

We could certainly launch a review project of all our font descriptions
to make them more coherent and useful to our users. A post-squeeze project?

A migration to DEP-5 for more of our packages would also be very useful.

>> * How about reporting the scripts that the fonts are supposed to contain?
>>  Some of the information that we include in the long descriptions could, in
>>  principle, be automatically fed to debtags to make searching for fonts
>>  easier.
> I think we need to add such information to app-install-data (or create
> font-install-data) so that PackageKit and the like can automatically
> install appropriate fonts and users can search available fonts based
> on this metadata. Fedora has already done this and stores the
> information in the equivalent of Packages files IIRC. I don't think we
> should bloat the Packages files though. We could probably add
> generation of this to the pkg-fonts debfontreview script. We need to
> talk to the maintainers of PackageKit, aptitude, synaptic, etc to see
> what features they would consider appropriate. Obviously we would
> likely want the autoinstall stuff that Fedora has.

This sounds like a great long-term goal :-)

Maybe a fontaine json export from the current review can be a starting

Thanks for all your font-related efforts,

Nicolas Spalinger, NRSI volunteer
Debian/Ubuntu font teams

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