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Posted Oct 15, 2010 5:53 UTC (Fri) by sytoka (subscriber, #38525)
Parent article: The Ubuntu font and a fresh look at open font licensing

What about all the beautiful font we have in TeX / LaTeX ? Are they open, free ? Why not reuse them after re-encode in another format ?

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Posted Oct 15, 2010 11:15 UTC (Fri) by rsidd (subscriber, #2582) [Link]

The Computer Modern fonts, if that's what you're referring to, are free. So are many other TeX fonts. They are good for printing, but render poorly on the screen, and in some cases are only available as bitmaps or Metafont source. Metafont is scalable in theory, but the algorithm is slow so it is used to generate bitmaps in practice. It is also completely incompatible with postscript or truetype. The more common CM fonts have postscript Type1 versions available, and these are what are usually used these days, but they too are designed for printing, not for screen rendering.

In contrast, Microsoft's Verdana was originally designed specifically for screen-rendering, and the Bitstream Vera / DejaVu family likewise. Prior to Vera, Linux users had the options of bitmap X fonts, which were fine but not scalable; or the "standard" Type1 font versions from URW (Times, Helvetica, etc) which looked fuzzy (when antialiased) or blocky (when not antialiased) on screen. Vera changed that, and (under the name DejaVu) remains the standard on most linux systems. Also, linux users commonly install the MS "core fonts", but these aren't included with distros and their legal status may be unclear (Microsoft no longer offers them for free download).

From what I have seen, the Ubuntu font renders very nicely on the screen.


Posted Oct 15, 2010 12:58 UTC (Fri) by yosch (guest, #4675) [Link]

The CTAN and fresh distributions like TeX Live do include a number of high quality libre/open fonts such as StixFonts, AMSfonts, Libertine, Inconsolata, Asana Math and various families released by GFS and SIL.

Some come with the needed glue files to work in the earlier TeX systems but thankfully newer generations of TeX engine (XeTex, pdfTex, LuaTex, etc) handle TrueType/OpenType formats natively. Well-worth checking out.


Posted Oct 15, 2010 15:34 UTC (Fri) by davecrossland (guest, #70649) [Link]


Posted Oct 19, 2010 13:48 UTC (Tue) by Seegras (guest, #20463) [Link]


On a related note, XeLaTeX has just about the best OpenType-support I've ever seen.

\fontspec[Ligatures={Common, Rare}]{Baskerville}

Eat this, OpenOffice.

How come, by the way, DejaVu isn't available as OTF?


Posted Oct 22, 2010 8:22 UTC (Fri) by yosch (guest, #4675) [Link]

Actually, Libre/ is nicely catching up in terms of smart font features and advanced typography:

The past releases offer better support for OpenType and there is also a very useful Graphite Font Extension for by Keith Stribley from ThanLwinSoft to allow greater control over the integrated Graphite renderer.

László Németh presented his impressive work on using Graphite's font features capabilities in OOo via a branch of the Linux Libertine open font called Magyar Linux Libertine G and a dedicated Typography tool extension. The development was supported by Foundation, Hungary.


Posted Oct 19, 2010 14:02 UTC (Tue) by davecrossland (guest, #70649) [Link]

DejaVu was published with quadratic (TTF) outlines and no OpenType features; an OTF is a font with cubic outlines and perhaps some OpenType features.


Posted Oct 22, 2010 8:07 UTC (Fri) by yosch (guest, #4675) [Link]

It's worth pointing out that the LM fonts are another indicator of the big complexities of getting font licensing done right and somewhat a warning for the problems inherent in trying to build your own community-specific model.

AFAICT very experienced and prominent people in the the TeX community went through a tough time struggling with various aspects of the licensing issues.

These fonts are now under the project-specific Gust Font License and the LPPL:

Notice the following conclusion describing the now deprecated project and organisation-specific licenses created in the interim on

"The Historical Part

As of September 15, 2006 the licenses described hereunder are not in use. This part of the site will be left as is for historical reasons. Perhaps some day “A Cautionary Tale: Think Thrice Before Trying to Create Your Own License” might be written and then it will become clear why GUST no longer thinks that GFSL and GFNSL are adequate licenses."

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