In praise of free fonts

by Edd Dumbill


alt="GNOME 2 using FreeSans" border="1" />

Good-looking fonts on Linux are one of the most difficult things
to get right. Many Linux desktops are left looking
pretty chunky and spidery when compared to Mac OS X or Win XP
for font rendering.


Recently, the Render and Truetype extensions to XFree86
and the support
for antialiased fonts in GNOME and KDE have brought a hopeful
end in sight. Many users however, are forced to use the fonts
that came with their (unused, of course) Windows CD, or the
redistributable but non-free Microsoft Core Fonts.
Not ideal from the perspective of free software.


Happily, this situation is changing. I recently came across
the Free UCS Outline Fonts
project, which aims at producing a set of free outline fonts covering the
ISO 10646/Unicode Universal Character Set. Installing them
via the ttf-freefont package on my Debian GNU/Linux
system, I was impressed by the quality of the typefaces:
including a monospaced, sans and
serifed font.


Even more impressive is the commitment to the
Unicode character set: the aim of the project is to cover
not only the most familiar Latin character sets but also
Korean, Arabic, Hebrew, Armenina, Georgian, Ethiopian, Thai,
Japanese and more. Combined with the native Unicode support
of GNOME 2, this sounds very promising for the future of
internationalized user interfaces on Linux.


The screenshot on this page shows my GNOME 2 desktop using the FreeSans
font. In fact, this font is about the only one on Linux I've found
that offers a similar feel to the sans font used on Mac OS X. Congratulations
and thanks to Primoz Peterlin for his work on these fonts!




Share your tips for good looking Linux fonts here.


2 Comments

anonymous2
2002-10-04 10:41:20
ttf-freefonts package?
I am using debian testing, but can't seem to see that package. Or is it in unstable only, or via additional apt-get src?
Edd Dumbill
2002-10-04 11:26:16
ttf-freefonts package?
Only in unstable at the moment, see http://packages.debian.org/unstable/x11/ttf-freefont.html