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

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at sil.org
Fri Nov 12 09:52:19 UTC 2010

On 11/11/10 18:52, Dave Crossland wrote:
> Dear Nicolas,
> On 12 November 2010 00:35, Nicolas Spalinger <nicolas_spalinger at sil.org> wrote:
>> On 10/11/10 21:25, Dave Crossland wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> On 10 November 2010 20:00, Nicolas Spalinger <nicolas_spalinger at sil.org> wrote:
>>>> The few fonts we currently build from
>>>> source are the exception. Placing a strict requirement on this
>>>> now is very counter-productive.
>>> Could someone kindly explain to me, as a newbie here, why fonts that
>>> have a non-free build path are packaged in main and not contrib? :-)
>> Ha, nice try!  (oh, the delicious irony of asking that kind of question
>> from a hosted service that AFAICT is not exactly Franklin Street
>> Statement-friendly... from your new MacBook maybe? SCR.)
>> There have been plenty of discussions on this both IRL and in the
>> pkg-fonts team (see the archives)...
>> And yet you regularly come back to this. What is your point exactly?
> You seem agitated by my question. I attempted to ask it in a kind and
> respectful way, and I am sorry if it came across as in some way
> aggressive or negative. That was not my intention at all.

And my reply was probably not as kind as it could have been. And it
looks like I have read too much into your question. My apologies if this
was discouraging to you. But you have to admit there's room for doubt
and misinterpretation of your motives given previous discussions and
actions around this.

> I have forgotten the details of previous discussions, and so I ask
> again. Thank you for your patience with me in re-explaining :-)

We all have a conveniently selective memory, don't we :-)

I don't have the resources and the spare time to discuss things over and
over...  (I hope to spend more time focusing on actual commits than
long-winded discussions and big promises).

> My limited understanding of Debian is that when a free package has a
> non-free dependency it is put in 'contrib' not 'main.' It seems free
> fonts with non-free dependencies are put in 'main.' I am not
> suggesting that already packaged fonts ought to be put in contrib, but
> I would like to understand why existing packages are packaged as they
> are.

Run-time dependencies and build-deps follow other scenarios for font
software. TTBOMK for a long time Debian has had to rely on restricted
non-modifiable fonts (like some fonts in X, Luxi, etc). Over the years
as the situation has thankfully changed, the desirability of quality
unrestricted fonts has not led an official policy to reject all fonts
which were not made by designers using only libre software in main. If
you look through contrib/non-free there is little sign of the presence
of fonts. There are practical reasons involved. Some amount of
reasonable "compromise" to the usual component split given the special
nature of font software, its production mechanisms and upstream
community: a phased approach to bring us closer to libre/open fonts if
you like. I think this strategy has paid off and the situation is much
better now. So implying we now pull all the quality fonts we have gone
through great effort to get into the archive is self-defeating!

Most font standards themselves have been made by proprietary companies!
Things can't turn around completely overnight.

But we're working on it, aren't we. Or we are if we do more than just
talking and making big promises...

There are still various bugs exposed by our review that we can fix:

> I am asking this because I am about to start packaging a large number
> of libre fonts, most of which have proprietary build paths, and I want
> to know the full details about how I might package them, and the whys
> for the hows.

Now that's a lot clearer.

A quick reminder: a separate package per font family. As I indicated
various times a huge package containing lots of fonts from different
upstreams is a big no-no. (A similar policy exists in Fedora).

>> Trying to push for all the fonts to be
>> pulled from the Debian archive to better fit your views on licensing?
>> What would we gain from this exactly?
> I did not suggest all the fonts to be pulled from the Debian archive;
> nor did I push for it. I simply asked to explain why the fonts are
> packaged as they are.

Our premise was that these various open fonts are a very good thing to
have for Debian users and they are worth packaging, they already provide
sources in the form of ttf object files (and thankfully increasingly
more extended sources) their licensing satisfies the DFSG, and ftpmaster
has accepted them in main. (DFSG #2 is satisfied since it does not
explicitly require a build path).

I think others in the pkg-fonts team (and some other font maintainers
who may not participate directly in the team) agree with me on this.

Your question was casting an unfortunate doubt on all that, if
involuntarily (as you can imagine volunteers never really enjoy their
work and motivation being questioned especially by people with big
corporate backing...).

>> Now if I may ask, how's the fully reproducible self-contained build-path
>> coming on for your own fonts? And the corresponding packaging for
>> Fedora? Considering the growth in coverage and complexity ahead?
> I haven't documented the build path of my fonts, but you can be
> assured that it is all using published libre software. I have not done
> any Fedora packaging yet either. I hope you will ask me specific
> questions about both to help me clarify my own thinking before I do
> them, and I hope you will also explain in detail what I could improve
> when I do them :-)

OK, although I have already given you various suggestions on this.

> Cheers
> Dave


Nicolas Spalinger, NRSI volunteer
Debian/Ubuntu font teams

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