Optimal Use of Fonts on Linux

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Why Fonts on Linux Aren't Straight Forward ?
    2.1. X.org Font Subsystems
3. The Easy Steps to Enlighten Your Desktop
    3.1. Get a Better FreeType RPM
    3.2. Configure Your Desktop
4. Font Packages
    4.1. Bitstream Vera Fonts
    4.2. DejaVu Fonts
    4.3. Webcore Fonts
5. Producing Portable Documents
    5.1. Linux to Windows and vice-versa
    5.2. Linux to Linux
    5.3. Any to Any with OpenOffice.org and Bitstream Vera Fonts
    5.4. A Very Small Guide of Style
6. Create RPMs of Your Fonts
    6.1. Step 1: Prepare Your Environment to Build The Package
    6.2. Step 2: Prepare the Fonts Files to Package
    6.3. Step 3: Create a .spec File With This Template
    6.4. Step 4: Build It
7. Designer's Guide for Modern Good Looking Documents
    7.1. Families of Typefaces
    7.2. Classifications of Typefaces
    7.3. Ligatures, Small caps fonts and expert fonts
    7.4. Font Metrics and Shapes
8. Font Technologies
    8.1. Bitmap Fonts
    8.2. TrueType Fonts
    8.3. Type 1 Fonts
    8.4. Type3 Fonts
    8.5. Type 42 Fonts
    8.6. Type 1 vs TrueType -- a comparison
9. Getting Fonts For Linux
    9.1. True Type
    9.2. Type 1 Fonts and Metafont
10. Useful Font Software for Linux
11. Ethics and Licensing Issues Related to Type
12. References
    12.1. Font Information
    12.2. Postscript and Printing Information
A. Recompiling FreeType for BCI
B. Recompiling an RPM Ready for Your Distribution
C. We Need Your Help
D. About this Document

1. Introduction

You can have the coolest desktop widget theme, the most enlightened colors
combination, and a very nice background wallpaper. Your desktop still won't
look professional, clean, beautiful, and most important, comfortable, without
good fonts.

It is a common sense nowadays that good fonts are a key element for good
desktop usability, because we use to spend hours per day in front of
computers, writing documents, dealing with huge spreadsheets, making
presentations, browsing and chatting. So we are all the day reading text.

The font subsystem on Linux evolved a lot in the last years, from an old
naming, handling and option of fonts, to the support of True Type, Bistream
Vera, etc. As of release time of Fedora Core 2, components like [http://
www.keithp.com/~keithp/render/] Xft, [http://www.freetype.org] FreeType and
[http://www.fontconfig.org] FontConfig, and higher level software usage of
them has stabilized and is now considered mature. But Linux still has issues
with optimal font rendering, most of them related to software patents that we
describe in Section 2 below.

2. Why Fonts on Linux Aren't Straight Forward ?

Jump to Section 3 if you just want to fix your desktop fonts fast. Read this
section if you are interested in the details on how and why make it.

Fonts are used on the screen and for printing. These medias differ a lot in
DPI resolution: screens have 72 to 96 DPI, while modern printers use to have
300 DPI. So low-resolution medias as the screen need better font rendering
algorithms to workaround the media's limitations.

To get optimal fonts on the screen you need:

 1. Good fonts designed for low resolution media.
    True Type font technology evolved to be the best thing you can get
    nowadays. But for optimal screen beauty, you also need fonts that were
    designed for this purpose. We found that Tahoma and Verdana are the best
    fonts you can get for the screen.
 2. A good font renderer.
    Current Linux distributions include the excelent and very mature [http://
    www.freetype.org/] FreeType font renderer library.

A .ttf file contains information to draw the characters at any size, so you
eventually can convert a text into a scalable outline drawing (built from
line segments and quadratic bezier arcs) with tools like OpenOffice.org or

Font drawing algorithms are extremely complex because they have to decide
which pixels to highlight based on the mathematical equations inside the .ttf
file. When you need text in big sizes like 48 or 60, one or two pixels these
algorithms "forget" to highlight doesn't make much difference, but when you
need text at size 8pt or 11px, each pixel counts. And these use to be the
text size for KDE and Gnome widgets, text for web browsing, and almost
everything else we see on the screen.

To solve this problem more efficiently, beside of the mathematical equations
inside a .ttf file, a font designer (a human being with a font creation
software) also put some extra information to help the font renderer make
correct decisions for this small size text. This process is called
grid-fitting or hinting.

The point is: [http://www.freetype.org/patents.html] the technologies to
interpret this hinting information are patented by Apple, and they are
commonly called True Type Byte Code Interpreters (or simply BCI in our
document, from now on).

With reverse engineering, the Freetype Project has implemented a byte code
interpreter, but due to legal issues in some countries, some Linux
distributions disable it at compilation and packaging time. This is a list of
distributions that are known to enable or disable BCI. Please send us

Table 1. FreeType Bytecode Interpreter Status per Distribution
|Support   |No Native Support |
|Conectiva |Mandrake          |
|Gentoo    |Red Hat, Fedora   |
|SUSE      |                  |

FreeType tries to workaround this legal issues developing autohinting
algorithms, but in our tests, BCI algorithms gave us much better font
rendering results on the screen.

2.1. X.org Font Subsystems

At the present time, [http://www.x.org/] X.org and [http://www.xfree86.org/]
XFree86 use two font subsystems, each with different characteristics:

 1. The original (15+ year old) subsystem is referred to as the "core X font
    subsystem". Fonts rendered by this subsystem are not anti-aliased, are
    handled by the X server, and have names like:
 2. The newer font subsystem is known as "fontconfig", and allows
    applications direct access to the font files. Fontconfig is often used
    along with the Xft library, which allows applications to render
    fontconfig fonts to the screen with antialiasing. Fontconfig uses more
    human-friendly names like:
    Luxi Sans-10

Over time, fontconfig/Xft will replace the core X font subsystem. At the
present time, applications using the Qt 3 or GTK 2 toolkits (which would
include KDE and GNOME applications) use the fontconfig and Xft font
subsystem; most everything else uses the core X fonts.

In the future, Linux distributions may support only fontconfig/Xft in place
of the XFS font server as the default local font access method.

Note An exception to the font subsystem usage outlined above is              
     OpenOffice.org (which uses its own font rendering technology).          

3. The Easy Steps to Enlighten Your Desktop

You'll have to:

 1.   Update the FreeType library package on your system with one compiled
    with BCI support.
 2. Install the Webcore Fonts package (a.k.a. Microsoft fonts).
 3. Follow the instructions below on how to configure your desktop and common

3.1. Get a Better FreeType RPM

FreeType compiled with BCI presented much better screen font rendering

Get RPMs for your distribution here:

  * Fedora 6 RPMs.
  * Fedora 5 RPMs by Cody DeHaan.
  * CentoOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and 4, and Fedora 3 and 4 RPMs.
  * Mandrake RPMs through the Penguin Liberation Front website. The package
    name is libfreetype6.
  * Debian Sarge users have the BCI enabled FreeType from the "testing" and
    "unstable" package repositories. Next stable Debian version will include
    it as their default. The Debian package name is libfreetype6.

If you use one of these distributions, but on a platform that binary RPMs are
not being provided, you can easily compile your own (even if you don't have
any software compilation skills) following the instructions on Appendix B.

WE WILL ACCEPT CONTRIBUTIONS of distribution specific FreeType repackaging,
so if you can [mailto:avi at unix DOT sh] contact us, we appreciate.

If you are interested in repackaging your own FreeType, see how we repackage
the Fedora Core and Red Hat RPMs with BCI on the Appendix A as a reference.

3.2. Configure Your Desktop

General Guidelines

The main idea is to use good hinted fonts all around. As a general rule,
we'll use Tahoma 8pt for desktop widgets, LucidaTypewriter 8pt for monospace
text, and Verdana 8pt, 9pt or 10pt for fluent text reading or web surfing.
These are the default font sizes on a Microsoft Windows desktop, and they
look good on a 1024x768 screen. If you have a better screen resolution
(1280x1024, 1600x1200) our suggestion is to stick with these fonts but
increase their sizes.

We choose these fonts, specially Microsoft's Tahoma and Verdana, because they
look perfect at small sizes (8pt, due to their excellent hinting), providing
a more efficient screen utilization. They'll make your desktop look
beautiful, professional, clean and comfortable. These fonts were designed for
this purpose.

For window titles or text that will appear in bigger sizes, you may choose
whatever you want because bigger sizes hinting are not so relevant.

3.2.1. A Note About Anti-Aliasing

Anti-Aliasing is a technique used to reduce the "steeper" effect on
low-resolution medias, so it can be used to improve the quality of text on
the screen. It is also used to blur the imperfections of bad hinted fonts at
small sizes. For desktop widgets (usually with small size), some people think
it makes the desktop look dirty.

So a practical conclusion we found is to use Anti-Aliasing for sizes bigger
than 10pt, and use good hinted fonts for smaller sizes without Anti-Aliasing.
Currently the best hinted fonts you can find, as we cited before, are the
ones found in the Webcore font package.

3.2.2. KDE

To configure KDE, use the Control Center (kcontrol in the command line). This
is how I have it configured.

Figure 1. General KDE font configuration


So we basically chose Trebuchet 12pt as the window title font, the bitmap
font LucidaTypewriter 8pt for fixed size text, and Tahoma 8pt for everything
else, which includes menus, buttons, etc. The 2 first should follow your
taste, but Tahoma 8pt for all the rest is the optimal configuration, also
used by MS Windows 2000 and XP.

One other thing to note is that I disabled anti-aliasing for font sizes up to
9 points. Look at the entire dialog and see how all text is clearly rendered,
looks clean precise and professional.

Konqueror (KDE's browser and file manager) also needs font configuration for
beautiful web browsing and file management.

Figure 2. Konqueror File Management font configuration


We used the same Tahoma 8pt for rendering the list of files in Konqueror's
window, because Tahoma was simply designed with this purpose in mind, with 
8pt being its most important size, with no need of anti-aliasing to be clear
and beautiful.

Figure 3. Konqueror Web Browsing font configuration


And this is finally for web browsing. We are using Verdana as the general
font because it was simply designed for the purpose of fluent text reading on
the screen. And the old LucidaTypewriter when a web page requested a fixed
size font. Some may choose fonts like Courier or Bistream Vera Mono here.

We left all other fonts blank, to let the page choose it. But you may use 
Times New Roman as the Serif Font. Read more about serif fonts in Section

The sizes of the fonts for browsing are a bit personal and depends on how
healthy are your eyes, and the resolution of your screen. In my 1024x768
screen I use default size as 8pt, and I don't want web pages to use sizes
smaller than 7pt. In the end of the day, to set the size is not so effective
because modern web pages use to set them with absolute values. So it is more
practical to use the browsers View menu to "zoom" the page you are currently

One more thing to note is the Default Encoding. This is a quite complex
subject that deserves an entire HOWTO, but it is generally OK to leave it as
the Language Encoding. You may need to change it if you frequently browse
pages with non pure ASCII (international text) made by irresponsible
webmasters that still don't use UTF-8 for the web. But here also it may be
more practical to use the View menu to set the encoding for the current page
you are browsing.

3.2.3. Gnome

We'll use our generic rules here too: Tahoma 8pt for everything. Navigate
preferences menu to invoke the following dialog or just run 
gnome-font-properties from the command line.

Figure 4. Gnome Font Configurations


3.2.4. OpenOffice.org

As of Fedora Core 3 time, OpenOffice.org 1.1.2 has look (but not feel)
integration with KDE and Gnome. This means that your environment should tell
OOo how to use widget fonts. But we found it didn't really work. With further
investigation we found that only the non-AA configuration we made was not
propagated to OOo. So we used OOo's own dialogs to change it.

Figure 5. OpenOffice.org font configuration, using my KDE themes etc.


So we basically selected Tool, Options menu, and in the View section we
enable OOo to do anti-aliasing at font sizes beginning with 12 pixels
(approximately 9pt), and the result is what you can see above: clean and
comfortable widgets with Tahoma 8pt.

3.2.5. Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox follows the same Konqueror rules.

Figure 6. Firefox fonts for web browsing


So we Edit->Preferences and then   Fonts & Colors , and selected Verdana 14px
for general browsing and LucidaTypewriter 11px for monospace text.

Firefox is a Gnome application, so it will use Gnome's font settings for

Additionaly, a very interesting way to configure some font rendering aspects
of Firefox is described in a [http://mandrake.vmlinuz.ca/bin/view/Main/
FireFoxFonts] Mandrake Wiki.

3.2.6. Beautiful Alternatives Without Webcore Fonts

If you want to stay away from patents and proprietary fonts, the best way to
go is with Bitstream Vera Sans 8pt, Nimbus Sans 8 or 9pt, or Luxi Sans 8 or
9pt (also known as Sans, simply) for desktop widgets, and bigger sizes for
fluent text reading. You'll need Anti-Aliasing to blur the low quality of the
hinting of these fonts.

Here are some screen shots about the usage of these fonts on KDE. You should
pay attention on how the widgets text on this window are rendered.

Figure 7. Bitstream Vera 8pt with Anti-Aliasing


Figure 8. Luxi 8pt with Anti-Aliasing


Figure 9. Luxi 9pt with Anti-Aliasing


Figure 10. Nimbus 9pt with Anti-Aliasing


As you can see, the results aren't so good as Tahoma 8pt.

4. Font Packages

4.1. Bitstream Vera Fonts

Bitstream donated to the open world their Vera set of fonts, which are good
quality and include a sans, sans serif and monospace fonts. This fonts are
not very well hinted but can be used for desktop widgets, programming, fluent
text reading and web surfing. Here is a screen shot:

Figure 11. Bitstream Vera Fonts


At these sizes, these fonts look great, specially with anti-aliasing. But
unfortunately their bad hinting can be noted at small sizes.

  Bitstream Vera fonts are included by default in all modern Linux

4.2. DejaVu Fonts

The [http://dejavu.sourceforge.net/] DejaVu fonts are modifications of the
Bitstream Vera fonts designed to extend this original for greater coverage of
Unicode. It is being included by default in all modern Linux distributions,
and everywhere you were thinking to use Bitstream Vera, DejaVu is another
option with a more complete Unicode set.

Figure 12. The DejaVu Fonts


4.3. Webcore Fonts

The [http://avi.alkalay.net/software/webcore-fonts] official distribution of
these fonts for Linux include tarballs and RPMs for several distributions.

Also known as the Microsoft fonts, these are the best fonts available to be
used on the screen. Very well hinted for small sizes makes them perfect for
desktop widgets, fluent text, etc.

They are Verdana, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Arial, Trebuchet, Comic Sans, 
Impact and others. Here is a screen shot of them:

Figure 13. The Webcore Fonts


As we said before, Tahoma and Verdana were designed for the screen, but they
are getting overused for many other purpose.

Our objective here is to provide links where you can get good quality RPMs,
debs, etc for your distribution. These packages are provided by independent
contributors, so if you have the skills to build them for your distribution,
please [mailto:avi at unix DOT sh] contact us and send the URL for your

Packages for distributions:

  *   [http://avi.alkalay.net/software/webcore-fonts] Red Hat and Fedora
    RPMs. This is the orignal package, and it is reported to work in many
    other distributions.
  *   [http://rpm.borgnet.us/10.1/] Mandrake signed [http://rpm.borgnet.us/
    10.1/media/RPMS/noarch/] RPMs by [mailto:sgrayban AT borgnet DOT us]
    Borgnet (Scott Grayban).
  * Debian Sarge (currently stable) and Etch (soon to be stable) both contain
    a package called [http://packages.debian.org/stable/x11/msttcorefonts]
    msttcorefonts which contains the MS core fonts. Most Debian users running
    a GUI will probably install it.
  * Please send us more, such as Slackware and Debian packages.

After installing this font package you'll also note a better rendering of web
pages, because professional web designers use to use them for their pages.

Some people say these fonts are free only for persons who have a Microsoft
Windows license.

5. Producing Portable Documents

Yes, we know you had created rich documents, presentations, spreadsheets and
web pages that looked great in your computer, but when opened in your
friend's machine they looked completely unformated. So lets discuss here some
good practices we found to avoid these annoying drawbacks.

5.1. Linux to Windows and vice-versa

If you need to exchange documents with Windows users, you should use Windows
fonts. This is the general rule. So you should install the Webcore Fonts
package and take care to use only Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc, on
your docs.

The combination of these fonts with the cross-platform, high quality [http://
www.openoffice.org] OpenOffice.org suite, gives you a truly productive
teamwork tool.

5.2. Linux to Linux

The fonts available on modern Linux distributions, to produce good quality
documents are the following:

Table 2. General Linux Free Fonts
|Fonts                |
|Bitstream Charter    |
|Bitstream Vera family|
|Century Schoolbook   |
|Luxi family          |
|Nimbus family        |
|URW Palladio         |
|URW Bookman          |
|URW Chancery         |
|URW Gothic           |
|Utopia               |

Using these fonts you'll be able to safely exchange and print documents
between different modern Linux distributions.

There are other fonts available on your Linux system, but we did not list
them here because they are low-quality (obsolete) bitmap fonts, to be used on
the screen, and not for documents.

5.3. Any to Any with OpenOffice.org and Bitstream Vera Fonts

The title says it all. OpenOffice.org's all platform packages include the 
Bitstream Vera package. So if you'll take care to use only these fonts, your
documents will open nicely in any other OpenOffice.org installation.

As a side note, OpenOffice.org excels in portability. In any platform, OOo
looks and works the same, and it takes special care with your documents
layout. It is simply a great tool.

5.4. A Very Small Guide of Style

To make your documents have a professional look, you should choose the
correct font for the document purpose. Our current culture standardized that
serif fonts (Times, etc) are the right choice for books and magazines. Now
sans-serif fonts (Arial, Helvetica, Verdana) are gaining space and some may
feel these fonts provide a more modern look, because of their lack of serifs.
We have seen them being used in printed articles and commercial proposals.

For web pages, Arial and Helvetica or specially Verdana, are definitively the
right choice.

For further more deep information, please refer to Section 7, by Donovan
Rebbechi on typography, about cultural and social facts that influenced font
designing evolution, and what are being produced today by designers.

6. Create RPMs of Your Fonts

Do not just throw .ttf files someplace on your system. It makes migrations
more difficult, and makes a big mess in your computer. Package management
software like RPM lets you easily install your fonts in an organized standard
way, manage font upgrades, and make massive font distribution a piece of

Here we'll provide templates and instructions for you to easily build RPM
packages of your fonts. We'll accept contributions with instructions to build
different types of packages.

6.1. Step 1: Prepare Your Environment to Build The Package

To build RPMs, you need a special structure of directories and some
configurations on your environment. You should do everything as a regular
user, in all steps. In fact, we recommend that you do not do this as root.

To create this directories, do this:
bash$ cd ~                                                                   
bash$ mkdir -p src/rpm                                                       
bash$ cd src/rpm                                                             
bash$ cp -r /usr/src/redhat/* .                                              
bash$ ls                                                                     
BUILD/  RPMS/  SOURCES/  SPECS/  SRPMS/                                      

(the "~" is an alias to the current user's home directory name, and the
command line knows it should interpret it this way)

Of course this is on a Red Hat system, but the important point is to have the
following directories under src/rpm:

  *   BUILD/
  *   RPMS/noarch/
  *   SRPMS/

Then, you'll have to create the .rpmmacros file in you home directory, with
this single line content:
%_topdir        YOUR_HOME_DIR_HERE/src/rpm                                   

And you should substitute YOUR_HOME_DIR_HERE with the absolute name of your
$HOME directory. So as an example, my .rpmmacros file contains this line:
%_topdir        /home/aviram/src/rpm                                         

6.2. Step 2: Prepare the Fonts Files to Package

Now you must think about a name for your font collection. To make things easy
in this documentation, we'll use the name myfonts from now on. Then you must
create a directory named ~/src/myfonts/myfonts (yes, myfonts two times) and
put all your .ttf files right under it. So you'll have something like:
bash$ cd ~/src                                                               
bash$ find myfonts/myfonts/                                                  

6.3. Step 3: Create a .spec File With This Template

To build an RPM package you'll have to create a .spec file that provides
instructions to the package builder on how to organize the files, package
description, author, copyright, etc. We provide a template [template.spec]
here that you can use to start your work. The template looks like this:

Example 1. The .spec file template
Name: myfonts     (1)                                                                                                        
Summary: Collection of My Funny Fonts   (2)                                                                                  
Version: 1.1   (3)                                                                                                           
Release: 1                                                                                                                   
License: GPL    (4)                                                                                                          
Group: User Interface/X                                                                                                      
Source: %{name}.tar.gz                                                                                                       
BuildRoot: %{_tmppath}/build-root-%{name}                                                                                    
BuildArch: noarch                                                                                                            
Requires: freetype                                                                                                           
Packager: Avi Alkalay <avi unix sh>    (5)                                                                                   
Prefix: /usr/share/fonts                                                                                                     
Url: http://myfonts.com/     (6)                                                                                             
%description    (7)                                                                                                          
These are the fonts used in our marketing campaign, designed by our marketing agency specially for us.                       
The package includes the following fonts: Font 1, Font 2, Font 3, Font 4.                                                    
%setup -q -n %{name}                                                                                                         
mkdir -p $RPM_BUILD_ROOT/%{prefix}                                                                                           
cp -r %{name}/ $RPM_BUILD_ROOT/%{prefix}                                                                                     
rm -rf $RPM_BUILD_ROOT                                                                                                       
        if test -x /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.fonts ; then                                                                      
                # This is a SUSE system. Use proprietary SuSE tools...                                                       
                if test "$YAST_IS_RUNNING" != "instsys" ; then                                                               
                        if test -x /sbin/SuSEconfig -a -f /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.fonts ; then                               
                                /sbin/SuSEconfig --module fonts                                                              
                                echo -e "\nERROR: SuSEconfig or requested SuSEconfig module not present!\n" ; exit 1         
                if test -x /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.pango ; then                                                              
                        if test "$YAST_IS_RUNNING" != "instsys" ; then                                                       
                                if test -x /sbin/SuSEconfig -a -f /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.pango ; then                       
                                        /sbin/SuSEconfig --module pango                                                      
                                        echo -e "\nERROR: SuSEconfig or requested SuSEconfig module not present!\n" ; exit 1 
                # Use regular open standards methods...                                                                      
                ttmkfdir -d %{prefix}/%{name} \                                                                              
                        -o %{prefix}/%{name}/fonts.scale                                                                     
                umask 133                                                                                                    
                /usr/X11R6/bin/mkfontdir %{prefix}/%{name}                                                                   
                /usr/sbin/chkfontpath -q -a %{prefix}/%{name}                                                                
                [ -x /usr/bin/fc-cache ] && /usr/bin/fc-cache                                                                
} &> /dev/null || :                                                                                                          
        if [ "$1" = "0" ]; then                                                                                              
                cd %{prefix}/%{name}                                                                                         
                rm -f fonts.dir fonts.scale fonts.cache*                                                                     
} &> /dev/null || :                                                                                                          
        if test -x /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.fonts ; then                                                                      
                # This is a SUSE system. Use proprietary SuSE tools...                                                       
                if test "$YAST_IS_RUNNING" != "instsys" ; then                                                               
                        if test -x /sbin/SuSEconfig -a -f /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.fonts ; then                               
                                /sbin/SuSEconfig --module fonts                                                              
                                echo -e "\nERROR: SuSEconfig or requested SuSEconfig module not present!\n" ; exit 1         
                if test -x /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.pango ; then                                                              
                        if test "$YAST_IS_RUNNING" != "instsys" ; then                                                       
                                if test -x /sbin/SuSEconfig -a -f /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.pango ; then                       
                                        /sbin/SuSEconfig --module pango                                                      
                                        echo -e "\nERROR: SuSEconfig or requested SuSEconfig module not present!\n" ; exit 1 
                # Use regular open standards methods...                                                                      
                if [ "$1" = "0" ]; then                                                                                      
                        /usr/sbin/chkfontpath -q -r %{prefix}/%{name}                                                        
                [ -x /usr/bin/fc-cache ] && /usr/bin/fc-cache                                                                
} &> /dev/null || :                                                                                                          
%changelog    (8)                                                                                                            
* Sun Apr 15 2007 Avi Alkalay <avi unix sh> 1.1                                                                              
- Added support to SUSE on installation scriptlets                                                                           
* Thu Dec 14 2002 Avi Alkalay <avi unix sh> 1.0                                                                              
- Tested                                                                                                                     
- Ready for deployment                                                                                                       
* Thu Dec 10 2002 Avi Alkalay <avi unix sh> 0.9                                                                              
- First version of the template                                                                                              

You must change the following items to meet your package characteristic's
(leave everything else untouched):

(1) Put the name of your package or font collection here.
(2) Put a brief summary about your package here.
(3) The version of the package.
(4) The usage license of your package here.
(5) The name of the person responsible for this package here.
(6) URL to get more info about this package or fonts here. This entire line
    can be removed if there is no URL to point to.
(7) A more detailed description about this fonts here.
(8) The evolution history of this package here. Must follow this layout.

This file must be named as the name of the package - myfonts.spec in our
example. And you must put it under the main directory of the package. So in
the end we'll have something like this:
bash$ cd ~/src                                                               
bash$ find myfonts                                                           

6.4. Step 4: Build It

We are almost ready to go. Next steps:
bash$ cd ~/src                                                               
bash$ tar -czvf myfonts.tar.gz myfonts                                       
bash$ rpmbuild -ta myfonts.tar.gz                                            

Done (after seeing a lot of messages about the building process). So we
basically created a .tar.gz containing all our font files and myfonts.spec,
and then we used rpmbuild on it, that will look for myfonts.spec inside the
archive and follow its instructions.

You'll find the generated RPM under ~/src/rpm/RPMS/noarch/ directory, and
this is the file you'll deploy and install. Under ~/src/rpm/SRPMS/ you'll
find the source RPM file, which you should backup if you need to regenerate
the deployable RPM again in the future. When you'll need it, you should do:
bash$ rpmbuild --rebuild myfonts-1.0-1.src.rpm                               

And the RPM file will be generated again.

For more information and advanced RPM packaging, read the [http://www.rpm.org
/max-rpm/] Maximum RPM book, available in many formats in the [http://
www.rpm.org] rpm.org site.

7. Designer's Guide for Modern Good Looking Documents

Here, we discuss some typography basics. While this information is not
essential, many font lovers will find it interesting.

7.1. Families of Typefaces

Typically, typefaces come in groups of a few variants. For example, most
fonts come with a bold, italic, and bold-italic variant. Some fonts may also
have small caps, and demibold variants. A group of fonts consisting of a font
and its variants is called a family of typefaces. For example, the Garamond
family consists of Garamond, Garamond-italic, Garamond-bold, Garamond
bold-italic, Garamond demi-bold, and Garamond demi-bold-italic. The Adobe
expert Garamond font also makes available Garamond small caps, and Garamond
titling capitals.

7.2. Classifications of Typefaces

7.2.1. Fixed versus variable width

There are several classifications of typefaces. Firstly, there are fixed
width fonts, and variable width fonts. The fixed width fonts look like
typewriter text, because each character is the same width. This quality is
desirable for something like a text editor or a computer console, but not
desirable for the body text of a long document. The other class is variable
width. Most of the fonts you will use are variable width, though fixed width
can be useful also (for example, all the example shell commands in this
document are illustrated with a fixed width font). The most well known fixed
width font is Courier.

7.2.2. To serif or not to serif ?

Serifs are little hooks on the ends of characters. For example, the letter i
in a font such as Times Roman has serifs protruding from the base of the i
and the head of the i. Serif fonts are usually considered more readable than
fonts without serifs. There are many different types of serif fonts.

Sans serif fonts do not have these little hooks, so they have a starker
appearance. One usually does not write a long book using a sans serif font
for the body text. There are sans serif fonts that are readable enough to be
well suited to documents that are supposed to be browsed / skimmed (web
pages, catalogues, marketing brochures). Another application that sans serif
fonts have is as display fonts on computer screens, especially at small
sizes. The lack of detail in the font can provide it with more clarity. For
example, Microsoft touts Verdana as being readable at very small sizes on

Notable sans serif fonts include Lucida Sans, MS Comic Sans, Verdana, Myriad,
Avant Garde, Arial, Century Gothic and Helvetica. By the way, Helvetica is
considered harmful by typographers. It is somewhat overused, and many books
by typographers plead users to stay away from it.

7.2.3. The old and the new -- different types of Serif fonts Old Style

Old style fonts are based on very traditional styles dating as far back as
the late 15th century. Old style fonts tend to be conservative in design, and
very readable. They are well suited to writing long documents. The name ``old
style'' refers to the style of the font, as opposed to the date of its
design. There are classic old style fonts, such as Goudy Old Style, which
were designed in the 20th century. The old style class of fonts has the
following distinguishing features:

  * Well defined, shapely serifs.
  * Diagonal emphasis. Imagine drawing a font with a fountain pen, where
    lines 45 degrees anticlockwise from vertical are heavy and lines 45
    degrees clockwise from vertical are light. Old style fonts often have
    this appearance.
  * Readability. Old style fonts are almost always very readable.
  * Subtlety and lack of contrast. The old style fonts have heavy lines and
    light lines but the contrast in weight is subtle, not stark.

Notable Old Style fonts include Garamond, Goudy Old Style, Jenson, and Caslon
(the latter is contentious -- some consider it transitional)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moderns (or didone)

The moderns are the opposite of old style fonts. These fonts typically have
more character, and more attitude than their old style counterparts, and can
be used to add character to a document rather than to typeset a long piece.
However, nothing is black and white -- and there are some modern fonts such
as computer modern and Monotype modern, and New Century Schoolbook which are
very readable (the contrast between heavy and light is softened to add
readability). They are based on the designs popular in the 19th century and
later. Their distinguishing features include:

  * Lighter serifs, often just thin horizontal lines.
  * Vertical emphasis. Vertical lines are heavy, horizontal lines are light.
  * Many moderns have a stark contrast between light and heavy strokes.
  * Modern typefaces with high contrast between light and heavy strokes are
    not as readable as the old style fonts.

Bodoni is the most notable modern. Other moderns include computer modern, and
Monotype modern (on which computer modern is based).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Transitional

Transitional fonts fit somewhere in between moderns and old style fonts. Many
of the transitional's have the same kind of readability as the old styles.
However, they are based on slightly later design. While a move in the
direction of the moderns may be visible in these fonts, they are still much
more subtle than the moderns. Examples of transitional's include Times Roman,
Utopia, Bulmer, and Baskerville. Of these, Times leans towards old style,
while Bulmer looks very modern.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Slab Serifs

The slab serif fonts are so named because they have thick, block like serifs,
as opposed to the smooth hooks of the old styles or the thin lines of some of
the moderns. Slab serif fonts tend to be sturdy looking and are generally
quite readable. Many of the slab serifs have Egyptian names -- such as Nile,
and Egyptienne (though they are not really in any way Egyptian). These fonts
are great for producing readable text that may suffer some dilution in
quality (such as photocopied documents, and documents printed on newspaper).
These fonts tend to look fairly sturdy. The most notable slab serif fonts are
Clarendon, Memphis and Egyptienne, as well as several typewriter fonts. Many
of the slab serif fonts are fixed width. Conversely, most (almost all) fixed
width fonts are slab serif.

7.2.4. The Sans Serif Revolution

Surprisingly, the rise of sans serif fonts is a fairly recent phenomenon. The
first well known sans serif fonts were designed in the 19th early 20th
century. The earlier designs include Futura, Grotesque and Gill Sans. These
fonts represent respectively the ``geometric'', ``grotesque'' and
``humanist'' classes of sans serif fonts.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grotesque

The grotesques where so named because the public were initially somewhat
shocked by their relatively stark design. Groteques are very bare in
appearance due to the absence of serifs, and the simpler, cleaner designs.
Because of their ``in your face'' appearance, grotesques are good for
headlines. The more readable variations also work quite well for comic books,
and marketing brochures, where the body text comes in small doses. Grotesques
don't look as artsy as their geometric counterparts. Compared to the
geometrics, they have more variation in weight, more strokes, they are
squarer (because they don't use such circular arcs). They use a different
upper case G and lower case a to the geometrics. While they are minimalistic
but don't go to the same extreme as the brutally avant-garde geometrics.

Notable grotesques include the overused Helvetica, Grotesque, Arial, Franklin
Gothic, and Univers.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Geometric

The Futura font came with the manifesto: form follows function. The geometric
class of fonts has a stark minimalistic appearance. Distinguishing features
include a constant line thickness (no weight). This is particularly
conspicuous in the bold variants of a font. Bold groteques and humanist fonts
often show some notable variation in weight while this rarely happens with
the geometric fonts. Also notable is the precise minimalism of these designs.
The characters almost always are made up from straight horizontal and
vertical lines, and arcs that are very circular (to the point where they
often look as though they were drawn with a compass). The characters have a
minimal number of strokes. This gives them a contemporary look in that they
embrace the minimalistic philosophy that would later take the world of modern
art by storm. A tell tale sign that a font is a geometric type is the upper
case ``G'', which consists of a minimalistic combination of two strokes -- a
long circular arc and a horizontal line. The other character that stands out
is the lower case ``a'' -- which is again two simple strokes, a straight
vertical line and a circle (the other ``a'' character is more complex which
is why it is not used). Notable geometrics include Avant Garde, Futura, and
Century Gothic.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Humanist

As the name might suggest, humanist fonts were designed with a goal of being
less mechanical in appearance. In many ways, they are more similar to the
serif fonts than the geometrics and the grotesques. They are said to have a
``pen drawn'' look about them. They tend to have subtle variation in weight,
especially observable in bold variants. The curve shapes are considerably
less rigid than those of the geometrics. Many of them are distinguishable by
the ``double story'' lower case g, which is the same shape as the g used in
the old style serif fonts. The humanist typefaces are the easiest to use
without producing an ugly document as they are relatively compatible with the
old style fonts.

7.2.5. Compatible Typefaces

Grouping typefaces is not easy, so it pays to avoid using too many on the one
page. A logical choice of two typefaces consists of a serif and a sans serif.
[http://www.monotype.com/newmedia/type101_ex.htm] Monotype's Typography 101
page provides a category-matchup. They conclude that the moderns and
geometrics form good pairs, while the old styles and humanists also go
together well. The transitionals are also paired with the humanists. The slab
serifs are paired with the grotesques, and some variants of the slab serifs
are also said to match the geometrics or humanists.

From reading this, one gets the impression that their philosophy is
essentially to match the more conservative serifs with the more moderate sans
serifs, and pair the wilder modern serifs with the avant garde looking (pun
unavoidable) geometrics.

7.3. Ligatures, Small caps fonts and expert fonts

7.3.1. Ligatures

Properly spacing fonts brings with it all sorts of issues. For example, to
properly typeset the letters ``fi'', the i should be very close to the f. The
problem is that this causes the dot on the i to collide with the f, and the
serif on the head of the i to collide with the horizontal stroke of the f. To
deal with this problem, font collections include ligatures. For example, the
``fi'' ligature character is a single character that one can substitute for
the two character string ``fi''. Most fonts contain fi and fl ligatures.
Expert fonts discussed later often include extra ligatures, such as ffl, ffi,
and a dotless i character.

7.3.2. Small caps fonts

Small caps fonts are fonts that have reduced size upper case letters in place
of the lower case letters. These are useful for writing headings that require
emphasis (and they are often used in LaTeX). Typically, when one writes a
heading in small caps, they use a large cap for the beginning of each word,
and small capitals for the rest of the word (``title case''). The advantage
of this over using all caps is that you get something that is much more
readable (using all caps is a big typographic sin).

7.3.3. Expert fonts

Expert fonts consist of several extras designed to supplement a typeface.
These include things like ligatures, ornaments (much like a mini-dingbats
collection designed to go with the typeface), small caps fonts, and swash
capitals (fancy, calligraphic letters).

7.4. Font Metrics and Shapes

Font metrics define the spacing between variable width fonts. The metrics
include information about the size of the font, and kerning information,
which assigns kerning pairs -- pairs of characters that should be given
different spacing. For example, the letters ``To'' would usually belong in a
kerning pair, because correctly spaced (or kerned), the o should partly sit
under the T. Typesetting programs such as LaTeX need to know information
about kerning so that they can make decisions about where to break lines and
pages. The same applies to WYSIWYG publishing programs.

The other important component of a font is the outline, or shape. The
components of the fonts shape (a stroke, an accent, etc) are called glyphs.

8. Font Technologies

This section contains both non-usefull (nowadays) and usefull information
about how font technology evolved, caracteristics of some of them, and the
market dynamics that choosed the most widelly used ones.

Nowadays you probably won't find anymore Type 1, Type 3 and Type 42 fonts.

The bottom line is: today the de-facto font standard is True Type, Linux has
strong support to it with the FreeType library, and sometimes you may need
some bitmap fonts for screen, but never for printing.

8.1. Bitmap Fonts

A bitmap is a matrix of dots. Bitmap fonts are represented in precisely this
way -- as matrices of dots. Because of this, they are device dependent --
they are only useful at a particular resolution. A 75 DPI screen bitmap font
is still 75 DPI on your 1200 DPI printer.

There are two types of bitmap fonts -- bitmap printer fonts, such as the pk
fonts generated by dvips, and bitmap screen fonts, used by X and the console.
The bitmap screen fonts typically have a bdf or pcf extension. Bitmap screen
fonts are most useful for terminal windows, consoles and text editors, where
the lack of scalability and the fact that they are unprintable is not an

8.2. TrueType Fonts

TrueType fonts were developed by Apple. They made the format available to
Microsoft, and successfully challenged Adobe's grip on the font market. True
type fonts store the metric and shape information in a single file (usually
one with a ttf extension). Recently, font servers have been developed that
make TrueType available to X. And PostScript and ghostscript have supported
TrueType fonts for some time. Because of this, TrueType fonts are becoming
more popular on linux.

8.3. Type 1 Fonts

The Type 1 font standard was devised by Adobe, and Type 1 fonts are supported
by Adobe's PostScript standard. Because of this, they are also well supported
under linux. They are supported by X and ghostscript. Postscript fonts have
traditionally been the choice of font for anything on UNIX that involves

Typically, a UNIX Type 1 font is distributed as an afm (adobe font metric)
file, and an outline file, which is usually a pfb (printer font binary) or
pfa (printer font ascii) file. The outline file contains all the glyphs,
while the metric file contains the metrics.

Type 1 fonts for other platforms may be distributed in different formats. For
example, PostScript fonts for windows often use a different format (pfm) for
the metric file.

8.4. Type3 Fonts

These fonts are distributed in a similar manner to Type 1 files -- in groups
of afm font metrics, and pfa files. While they are supported by the
PostScript standard, they are not supported by X, and hence have limited use.

8.5. Type 42 Fonts

Type42 fonts are actually just TrueType fonts with headers that enable them
to be rendered by a PostScript interpreter. Most applications, such as
ghostscript and SAMBA handle these fonts transparently. However, if you have
a PostScript printer, it may be necessary to explicitly create Type42 font

8.6. Type 1 vs TrueType -- a comparison

Despite the historical feuding between the proponents to Type 1 and TrueType
fonts, both have a lot in common. Both are scalable outline fonts. Type 1
fonts use cubic as opposed to quadratic curves for the glyphs. This is in
theory at least a slight advantage since they include all the curves
available to TrueType fonts. In practice, it makes very little difference.

TrueType fonts have the apparent advantage that their support for hinting is
better (Type 1 fonts do have hinting functionality, but it is not as
extensive as that of TrueType fonts). However, this is only an issue on low
resolution devices, such as screens (the improved hinting makes no
discernable difference on a 600dpi printer, even at small point sizes.) The
other point that makes this apparent advantage somewhat questionable is the
fact that well hinted TrueType fonts are rare. This is because software
packages that support hinting functionality are out of the budget of most
small time designers. Only a few major foundries, such as Monotype make well
hinted fonts available.

In conclusion, the main differences between TrueType and Type 1 fonts are in
availability and application support. The widespread availability of TrueType
fonts for Windows has resulted in webpages designed with the assumption that
certain TrueType fonts are available. Also, many users have large numbers of
TrueType fonts because they ship with the users Windows applications.
However, on Linux, most applications support Type 1 fonts but do not have the
same level of support for TrueType. Moreover, most major font foundries still
ship most of their fonts in Type 1 format. For example, Adobe ships very few
TrueType fonts. My recommendation to users is to use whatever works for your
application, and try to avoid converting from one format to another where
possible (because the format conversion is not without loss).

9. Getting Fonts For Linux

9.1. True Type

9.1.1. Commercial Software

True type fonts are very easy to come by, and large amounts of them are
typically included in packages like Microsoft Word and Word Perfect. Getting
Word Perfect is an easy way to get an enormous amount of fonts (and if you're
really cheap, you could buy a legacy version of Word Perfect for windows. The
fonts on the CD are readable.)

9.1.2. Luc's Webpage

  [http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/originalfonts.html] Luc Devroye's webpage has
links to several sites with free fonts available. What's unique about these
fonts is that a lot of them are really free, they are not ``warez fonts''.

9.1.3. Web sites with TrueType fonts

There are several web sites offering freely available downloadable fonts. For
example, [http://www.freewareconnection.com/fonts.html] the freeware
connection has links to a number of archives.

9.1.4. Foundries

Several foundries sell TrueType fonts. However, most of them are quite
expensive, and for the same money, you'd be better of with Type 1 fonts. I'll
discuss these more in the Type 1 fonts section. The one place that does do
sell TrueType fonts at low prices is [http://www.buyfonts.com] buyfonts.
Please read the section on ethics before you buy cheap fonts.

9.2. Type 1 Fonts and Metafont

9.2.1. Dealing With Mac and Windows Formats

Many foundries ship fonts with Windows and Mac users in mind. This can
sometimes pose a problem. Typically, the ``Windows fonts'' are fairly easy to
handle, because they are packed in a zip file. The only work to be done is
converting the pfm file to and afm file (using pfm2afm).

Macintosh fonts are more problematic, because they are typically made
available in .sit.bin format -- stuffit archives. Unfortunately, there is no
tool for Linux that can unpack stuffit archives created with the newer
version of stuffit. The only way to do it is run Executor (Mac emulator), or
try running stuffit in dosemu or Wine. Once the sit.bin file is unpacked, the
Macintosh files can be converted using t1unmac which comes with the t1utils

Unfortunately, some vendors only ship Type 1 fonts in Macintosh format
(stuffit archives). However, according to font expert [http://
cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/] Luc Devroye, all major foundries make Type 1 fonts
available for Mac and Windows.

9.2.2. Free Stuff

  [http://www.ctan.org] ctan have a number of good fonts, many of which are
free. Most of these are in Metafont format, though some are also Type 1
fonts. Also, see [http://www.bluesky.com] Bluesky who have made available
Type 1 versions of the computer modern fonts. (The computer modern fonts are
of excellent quality -- to purchase anything of comparable quality and
completeness will cost you around $500-. They are comparable to the premium

  [http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/originalfonts.html] Luc Devroye's webpage has
links to several sites with free fonts available. What's unique about these
fonts is that a lot of them are really free, they are not ``warez fonts''.

URW have released the standard PostScript fonts resident in most printers to
the public domain. These fonts are quite good.

The [ftp://ftp.cdrom.com/pub/os2/fonts/] Walnut Creek Archive has several
freely available fonts, and shareware fonts. Some of these are obvious
ripoffs (and not very good ones). If a font doesn't come with some kind of
license, chances are it's a ripoff. Also [http://www.winsite.com/win3/fonts/
atm/] Winsite have several Type 1 fonts (in the fonts/atm subsection of their
windows 3.x software). Unfortunately, several of these have afm files which
have mistakes and are missing all kerning pairs (you can fix the afms by
editing the "FontName" section of the afm files. It should match the fontname
given in the font shape file. Of course, adding kerning pairs is a topic
beyond the scope of this document.)

  [http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/] Luc Devroye's webpage includes several free
fonts he designed, as well as a lot of links, and fascinating discussion on
the topic of typography. This site is a ``must-visit''. There are also
several links to many foundries.

9.2.3. Commercial Fonts Value vs Premium: Why Should I buy Premium Fonts ?

So you're wondering -- why do some fonts cost a lot and others are cheap?
These fonts are the ``standard PostScript fonts'' resident in most PostScript
printers. Also the famous Why should I buy the more expensive ones? My take
on it is that for a casual user, the value fonts (such as those on the
Bitstream CD) are just fine. However, if you're using the fonts for ``real
work'', or you're just a hard core font junkie, then the better quality fonts
are a must-have -- and most of the quality fonts are either free (for
example, Computer Modern), or they are upmarket commercial fonts.

The advantage of the cheaper fonts is self evident -- they are cheaper. The
quality fonts also have their advantages though.

  *   Ethical issues: The cheaper fonts are almost always ripoffs. Type
    design takes a long time and and experienced designer. Fonts that are
    sold for less than $1-per font were almost certainly not designed by the
    vendor. CDs with insane quantities of fonts on the are almost always
    ripoffs (the possible exceptions being collections from major foundries
    that cost thousands of dollars). Usually, the ripoffs lack the quality of
    fonts from respectable founries.
  *   Completeness: The higher quality fonts (notably from Adobe) come in
    several variants, with some nice supplements to provide the user with a
    more complete font family. There are often bold, italic, and demibold
    variants, swash capitals, small caps, old style figures, and extra
    ligatures to supplement the font. More recently, Adobe have a multiple
    master technology which gives the user (almost) infinite variation within
    one font family.
  *   Quality: A lot of the freely available fonts or the cheap ripoffs lack
    fairly essential features such as kerning pairs and decent ligatures.
    They are basically cheap copies. In contrast, reputable designers take a
    lot of trouble to study the original design, and rework it to the best of
    their ability.
  *   Authenticity: The person who designed Adobe Garamond (Robert Slimbach)
    actually studied the original designs of Claude Garamond. In fact
    reputable foundries always carefully research their designs, rather than
    just swiping something off the net, and modifying it with Fontographer.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Value

  * An excellent place to go for a CD packed with several Type 1 fonts of
    reasonable quality is [http://www.bitstream.com] Bitstream. Bitstreams
    more noted products include their [http://www.bitstream.com/products/
    world/font_cd/bits_collection.html] 250 font CD and their [http://
    www.bitstream.com/products/world/font_cd/500_cd.html] 500 font CD (the
    latter goes for $50- at the time of writing). These are fairly good
    quality fonts, and are a fairly good starting point for the casual user.
    The fonts used in Corel's products are (mostly) licensed from bitstream.
  *   [http://www.matchfonts.com/] Matchfonts offer more modestly priced
    fonts -- they are distributed in ``packs'' of about 8 fonts for $30. This
    includes some nice calligraphic fonts. All fonts seem to be offered in a
    usable format (the windows ATM fonts come in a .exe file. Don't let the
    extension fool you -- it's just a zip archive). These are not ripoffs as
    far as I can tell.
  *   [http://www.buyfonts.com] EFF sell TrueType fonts for $2- per hit. They
    also have ``professional range'' PostScript and TrueType fonts for $16-
    per typeface.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Premium

  * Adobe have several high quality, fonts available at [http://www.adobe.com
    /type/] Adobe's type website. Some of these are expensive, but they have
    several more affordable bundles -- see [http://www.adobe.com/type/
    collections.html] Adobe Type Collections. Adobe have some of the most
    complete font families on the market, for example, [http://www.adobe.com/
    type/browser/P/P_912.html] Garamond, [http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/P
    /P_180.html] Caslon, and their [http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/C/
    C_4e.htm] multiple masters (Myriad and Minion, used on their website are
    among the nicer of their multiple masters.)
  *   [http://www.bertholdtypes.com] Berthold Types Limited is a major
    foundry, who offer several quality fonts. Some of them are resold through
    Adobe, all are directly available from Berthold. Same price ballpark as
  * ITC develop several quality fonts (including some of the ones Corel ships
    with their products) at [http://www.itcfonts.com] http://
    www.itcfonts.com. They offer family packages for about $100-180 US. Their
    fonts, come in both Type 1 and TrueType format. It's better to choose the
    ``Windows'' package, because Mac formats are difficult to handle on
  *   [http://www.linotypelibrary.com] Linotype are a well known foundry who
    offer fonts by legendary designers including Herman Zapf. (yep, the guy
    ``Zapf Chancery'' is named after. He also designed Palatino.)
  *   [http://www.monotype.com] Monotype develop most of the fonts shipped
    with Microsoft products. One of the older and well respected foundries.
  *   [http://www.portal.ca/~tiro/] Tiro Typeworks sell good quality, if
    somewhat expensive typefaces. Their typefaces are very complete, for
    example, they include complete sets of ligatures, and smallcaps, titling
    fonts, etc. UNIX is listed as one of the OS options -- which is a welcome
    surprise after seeing the words ``Windows or Mac'' too many times.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- More Links

For links to a bunch of other foundries, see [http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/]
Luc Devroye's page

10. Useful Font Software for Linux

There are several font packages for Linux. Many of them are obsolete, or you
really will never have to use them.

  * chkfontpath is a utility for manipulating the xfs configuration file.
  *   [http://www.tug.org/applications/fontinst/index.html] fontinst is a
    LaTeX package designed to simplify the installation of Type 1 fonts into
  *   [http://www.freetype.org] Freetype is a TrueType library that comes
    with most Linux distributions
  *   [http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/] Ghostscript is the software that is
    used for printing on Linux. The version of ghostscript that ships with
    Linux is GNU ghostscript. This is one version behind the latest release
    of Aladdin ghostscript (who release their old versions under the GPL)
  *   [http://pegasus.rutgers.edu/~elflord/font_howto/pfm2afm.tgz] pfm2afm is
    a utility for converting windows pfm font metric files into afm metrics
    that can be used for Linux. This is based on the original version
    available at CTAN, and includes modifications from Rod Smith to make it
    compile under Linux.
  *   [http://www.lcdf.org/~eddietwo/type/] mminstance and t1utils are two
    packages for handling Type 1 fonts. mminstance is for handling Adobe's
    [http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/C/C_4e.html] multiple master Type 1
    fonts. t1utils is a suite of utilities for converting between the
    different Type 1 formats.
  *   [http://quadrant.netspace.net.au/ttf2pt1/] ttf2pt1 is a TrueType to
    Type 1 font converter. It is useful if you have applications that require
    Type 1 fonts.
  *   [ftp://ftp.dcs.ed.ac.uk/pub/jek/programs/ttfps.tar.gz] ttfps converts
    .ttf TrueType font files into Type42 files.
  *   [http://pegasus.rutgers.edu/~elflord/font_howto/ttfutils-0.2.tar.gz]
    ttfutils A package of utilities for handling TrueType fonts. This package
    requires ttf2pt1. Useful if not essential.
  *   [ftp://ftp.metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/X11/xutils/] type1inst is an
    essential package for installing Type 1 fonts. It greatly simplifies the
  *   [ftp://ftp.metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/X11/fonts/] xfstt is a TrueType
    font server for Linux. It's useful, but xfs is probably a better choice.
  *   [http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/jec/programs/xfsft/] xfsft The xfsft font
    server. Note that this is included in xfs.
  *   [http://hawk.ise.chuo-u.ac.jp/student/person/tshiozak/x-tt/] x-tt is a
    font server designed to handle Korean and Japanese fonts.

11. Ethics and Licensing Issues Related to Type

Font licensing is a very contentious issue. While it is true that there is a
wealth of freely available fonts, the chances are that the fonts are
``ripoffs'' in some sense, unless they come with a license indicating
otherwise. The issue is made more confusing by intellectual property laws
regarding typefaces. Basically, in the USA, font files are protected by
copyright, but font renderings are not. In other words, it's illegal to
redistribute fonts, but it's perfectly legal to ``reverse-engineer'' them by
printing them out on graph paper and designing the curves to match the
printout. Reverse engineered fonts are typically cheap and freely available,
but of poor quality. These fonts, as well as pirated fonts are often
distributed on very cheap CDs containing huge amounts of fonts. So it's not
always easy to tell if a font is reverse engineered, or simply pirated. This
situation creates an enormous headache for anyone hoping to package free
fonts for Linux.

Perhaps one of the most offensive things about the nature of font piracy is
that it artificially debases the value of the work that type designers do.
Pirated fonts invariably are bundled en masse onto these one zillion font
CDs, with no due credit given to the original designers. In contrast, what is
commendable about several legitimate font foundries is that they credit their

There are many differing opinions on this issue. See [http://
www.typeright.org] typeright for an explanation of the case in favour of
intellectual property rights. Also, see [http://www.ssifonts.com/] Southern
Software, Inc for another opinion -- but don't buy any of their fonts! Their
Type 1 fonts (poorly reverse-engineered Adobe fonts) do not have AFMs, and
are thus unusable.

  [http://www.faqs.org/faqs/fonts-faq/part2/] The comp.fonts FAQ also
discusses the issues of fonts and intellectual property, as does [http://
cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/] Luc Devroye's homepage. These references are somewhat
less extreme in their views.

12. References

12.1. Font Information

  *   [http://cg.scs.carleton.ca/~luc/] Luc Devroye's homepage contains
    enough information about fonts and other things to sink a ship. This guy
    designed a bunch of free fonts, and his homepage has a lot of interesting
    links, information and commentary.
  *   [http://www.scribus.org.uk/] Scribus is an Open Source desktop
    publishing project. The project web site provides a list of high quality
  *   [http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/5682/postscript.html] Jim
    Land's homepage contains a lot of links to sites on PostScript and fonts.
  *   [http://www.faqs.org/faqs/fonts-faq/] The comp.fonts FAQ is the
    definitive font FAQ.
  *   [http://www.moisty.org/~brion/linux/TrueType-HOWTO.html] The
    (preliminary) True Type HOWTO -- an incomplete HOWTO dated June 1998.
    Included in this list for completeness.

12.2. Postscript and Printing Information


  *   [http://www.adobe.com/print/postscript/main.html] Adobe's Postscript
    page is the definitive site on the PostScript standard.
  *   [http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/] Ghostscript's home page has a lot of
    information, and all the latest printer drivers.
  *   [http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/5682/postscript.html] Jim
    Land's homepage contains a lot of links to sites on PostScript and fonts.
  *   [http://www.hex.net/~cbbrowne/printing.html] Christopher Browne's
    Printing FAQ


    Stands for Adobe Font Metric. These files store information about the
    width and spacing associated with the font, as opposed to information
    about the font shape.
    Also referred to as font smoothing is a technique used to render fonts on
    low resolution devices (such as a monitor). The problem with rendering
    fonts is that the fonts consist of outlines, but the device renders in
    dots. The obvious way to render a font is to color black any pixel inside
    the outline, and leave all other dots. The problem with this is that it
    doesn't adequately address the pixels that are on the outline. A smarter
    algorithm would be to color the boundary pixels gray. Anti-aliasing
    essentially involves doing this.
Bitmap Fonts
    These fonts are simply a collection of dots. Each character of the font
    is stored as a dot matrix. Because of this, bitmap fonts are device
    dependent, so you can't use the same bitmap fonts on a screen and a
    printer. Examples of bitmap screen fonts include old .pcf and .bdf fonts
    used by X. Examples of printer bitmap fonts include TeX's PK fonts.
    A group of 8-bit glyphs. For example, the ISO-8859-1 (a.k.a. Latin-1)
    contain the regular latin chars for west european languages, ISO-8859-8
    contain the hebrew chars, ISO-8859-5 have the cyrillic chars, etc. The
    concept is now obsolete due to the advent of Unicode. Linux' base C
    library (libc) contain the technology to convert text from one charset to
    another and to/from Unicode.
Dots Per Inch or DPI (DPI)
    Monitors typically display at 75-100 DPI, while modern printers vary from
    300-1200 DPI.
Expert Font
    Are collections of additional characters that supplement a font. They
    include small caps fonts, ornaments, extra ligatures, and variable width
    digits. Many of Adobe's fonts have expert fonts available.
Font Server
    A background program that makes fonts available to an X server like X.org
    or XFree86.
    A glyph is a fancy word for a shape. It is a component that makes up an
    outline font. For example, the dot on the letter "i" is a glyph, as is
    the vertical line, as are the serifs. Glyphs determine the shape of the
    The ISO-8859 standard includes several 8-bit extensions to the ASCII
    character set (also known as ISO 646-IRV). There are many subdefinitions
    as ISO 8859-1 (or Latin 1), ISO-8859-2 (or Latin 2) etc. Still widely in
    use, specialy on the Windows platform, they standars are being replaced
    by the more universal and complete strandards called Unicode, specialy
    its UTF-8 charset. With any ISO 8859 charsets a single text document can
    not have several languages mixed together as Hebrew with Portuguese, Arab
    with French, Croatian with some scandinavian language, Japanese with
    English, etc. Refer to "latin1" Linux man page for more info.
ISO-8859-1 or Latin 1
    The ISO-8859-1 standard (or simply Latin 1) is a charset that define the
    128 higher chars as being the ones used by western european countries for
    languages as portuguese, spanish, french. The 128 lower chars are ASCII.
    It includes chars like "Г§", "ГЎ", "Г‰", "Гј", "Г®", but does not include
    the "€" (euro currency char) which was included in the ISO-8859-15
    update. This charset is kind of obsolete and UTF-8 should be used instead
    for plain text, web pages or complex documents.
    In variable width fonts, different pairs of characters are spaced
    differently. The font metric files store information regarding spacing
    between pairs of characters, called kerning pairs.
    A ligature is a special character that is used to represent a sequence of
    characters. This is best explained by example -- when the letter "fi" are
    rendered, the dot on the "i" collides with the "f", and the serif on the
    top left of the "i" can also collide with the horizontal stroke of the
    "f". The "fi" ligature is a single character that can be used in the
    place of a single "f" followed by a single "i". There are also ligatures
    for "fl", "ffi", and "ffl". Most fonts only include the "fi" and "fl"
    ligatures. The other ligatures may be made available in an expert font.
    A graphics language used for creating fonts. Metafont has a lot of nice
    features, the main one being that fonts created with metafont need not
    just scale linearly. That is, a 17 point computer modern font generated
    by metafont is not the same as a magnified 10 point computer modern font.
    Prior to Adobe's multiple master technology, metafont was unique with
    respect to having this feature. Metafonts main advantage is that it
    produces high quality fonts. The disadvantage is that generating bitmaps
    from the outline fonts is slow, so they aren't feasible for WYSIWYG
PostScript (PS)
    a programming language designed for page description. PostScript was a
    trademark of it's inventor, Adobe. However, it is also an ISO standard.
    Postscript needs an interpreter to render it. This can be done via a
    program on the computer, such as ghostscript, or it can be interpreted by
    some printers.
Sans Serif
    Fonts without serif (sans is French for ``without''). These fonts have a
    stark appearance, and are well suited for writing headlines. While
    textbook typography mandates that serif fonts be used just for headlines,
    they can have other uses. There are sans serif fonts designed for
    readability as opposed to impact. Short punchy documents that are skimmed
    (such as catalogues and marketting brochures) may use them, and recently,
    Microsoft have made available the Verdana font which is designed for
    readability at small sizes on low resolution devices. Well known sans
    serif fonts include Lucida Sans, MS Comic Sans, Avant Garde, Arial,
    Verdana, Century Gothic.
    Fonts with little hooks (called serifs) on the ends of the font. The
    serifs usually help make the font more readable. However, serifs are
    quite difficult to render on low resolution devices, especially at small
    font sizes (because they are a fine detail), so it is often true that at
    small sizes on low resolution devices, sans serif fonts (such as 
    Microsoft's Verdana) prove more readable. Another issue is that there are
    sans serif fonts (like the moderns) that are not designed for writing
    long documents.
Slab Serif
    A certain class of font whose serifs look like slabs (eg: flat lines or
    blocks) and not hooks. Slab serif fonts are often, but not always very
    readable. Because the serifs are simple and strong, they give one the
    feeling that they have been punched into the page. Well known examples of
    slab serifs are Clarendon, New Century Schoolbook, and Memphis.
Type 1
    A type of font designed by Adobe. These fonts are well supported by
    almost all linux applications, because they have been supported by the X
    server architecture and the PostScript standard for a long time.
    Postscript fonts are distributed in many different formats. Typically, a
    UNIX PostScript font is distributed as an afm (adobe font metric) file,
    and an outline file, which is usually a .pfb (printer font binary) or
    .pfa (printer font ascii) file. The outline file contains all the glyphs,
    while the metric file contains the metrics.
    Similar to Type 1. The file extensions are similar to Type 1 fonts (they
    are distributed as .pfa and afm files), but they are not supported by X,
    and because of this, there are not very many linux applications which
    support them.
    Before the advent of Unicode, each char was represented by a single byte,
    which let us have a range of 256 chars. The char for hex code 0xe2 in the
    Latin-1 charset maps to an "Гў" (circumflex "a"), while in the ISO-8859-7
    (greek) charset it maps to the "ОІ" (beta) letter. Unicode introduced
    multibyte characters with the objective of having each char of every
    culture and civilization on earth mapping to its unique multibyte hex
    code. So in our example "Гў" is 0x00e2 and "ОІ" 0x03b2.
    UTF-8 is a Unicode encoding that uses only one byte for the ASCII
    characters, two for the characters in the Latin-1 (ISO-8859-1) charset
    with values higher to 128, and tree or fourth bytes in other cases. An
    UTF-8 file that contain text in the english language is byte-identical to
    its Latin-1 and ASCII versions. If other characters are used in this same
    file, each of these characters will be multibyte, prefixed by some UTF-8
    escaping bytes. Modern applications as OpenOffice.org produce UTF-8
    documents. UTF-8 must be the charset of choice when you create plain
    text, HTML, etc. files. Modern Linux installations use UTF-8 for their
    environment in any country with any language and is currently the de
    facto standard for to represent text. A system adminstrator must have
    very good reasons to not use UTF-8.

A. Recompiling FreeType for BCI

"Hinting" is a TrueType specific feature, that is generally considered to be
a useful technique that improves the appearance of TrueType fonts.
Unfortunately, there are some licensing and patent issues involved with this,
and it is disabled by default in the freetype sources! And also quite likely
that if you are using vendor supplied binaries, it is disabled there as well.

To enable this feature, the FreeType sources need to be rebuilt.

On Any System

Look for include/freetype/config/ftoption.h file in the freetype source tree,
and then search for:

/* #define TT_CONFIG_OPTION_BYTECODE_INTERPRETER */                          

And very simply, just uncomment it to make it look like this:

#define TT_CONFIG_OPTION_BYTECODE_INTERPRETER                                

On Red Hat Systems (Fedora Included)

Red Hat users can rebuild the FreeType source RPM package by toggling one
setting at the top, and accomplish the same thing (other distributions RPMs
use similar methods):

%define without_bytecode_interpreter    1                                    

And change to:

%define without_bytecode_interpreter    0                                    

Other vendors may have a similar, easy-to-use mechanism.

Then rebuild and install the finished binaries. Be sure to restart X as well
since the freetype code is already loaded into memory by X.

B. Recompiling an RPM Ready for Your Distribution

If your distribution appears in the list on Section 3.1 but you can't find
the binary package for your platform (for example x86_64), you can easily
create the RPM compatible with your system following this steps:

 1. Have installed compiler and development packages on your system
 2. Download the source RPM file (.src.rpm extension) for your distribution
    from Section 3.1. For example, on Fedora 5, the correct source package is
    [] this one.
 3. As root, do this command:
    bash# rpmbuild --rebuild [the .src.rpm file you just downloaded]         
 4. Find the binary RPMs for your platform at /usr/src/rpm or /usr/src/
 5. Send them to us so we can publish them on this documentation.

C. We Need Your Help

Yes, we always need help, so please [mailto:avi _AT_ unix :dot: sh] send an
e-mail to Avi Alkalay with what you have to contribute. These are some

  * The most important: maintaining high-quality packages of a FreeType build
    with Bytecode Interpreter enabled, for the various versions of your
    distribution (as we are doing for Fedora).
  * Providing high-quality packages of Webcore fonts for your distribution.
  * Help on making Table 1 more accurate.
  * Providing instructions similar to Section 6 for other types of packages
    as .debs, Slackware, etc.
  * Translations of this document.
  * Anything else you can add to this document.

D. About this Document

Copyright 2004, Avi Alkalay, Donovan Rebbechi, Hal Burgiss.

This document is a unification of the two former font HOWTOs available at
[http://tldp.org/] TLDP.org: [http://www.pegasus.rutgers.edu/~elflord/
font_howto/] Donovan Rebbechi's original Font-HOWTO, and [http://burgiss.net/
ldp/fdu/] Hal Burgiss' original Font Deuglification HOWTO.

  * Donovan Rebbechi wrote part of the Glossary and sections starting from 
    Section 7
  * Hal Burgiss wrote Appendix A with some updates by Avi Alkalay
  * Section 2.1 was borrowed from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Release Notes
  * Everything else written by Avi Alkalay

Many things changed on Linux' font infrastructure since the former HOWTOs
were published, so all obsolete parts were removed.

This document must be distributed under the terms of [http://www.gnu.org/
copyleft/fdl.html] GNU Free Documentation License. Please translate, adapt,
improve, redistrubute using the original XML DocBook source right below. Let
me know if you want me to put a link to your translation/adaptation/
improvement here.

This document is published in the following locations:

  *   [http://avi.alkalay.net/linux/docs/font-howto/] Official site, with
    better fonts and layout [[http://avi.alkalay.net/linux/docs/font-howto/
    font-howto-20070415.tar.gz] XML (DocBook) Source]
  *   [http://en.tldp.org/HOWTO/Font-HOWTO/] TLDP [[http://www.ibiblio.org/
    pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO/other-formats/html_single/Font-HOWTO.html] single
    page] [[http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO/other-formats/pdf/
    Font-HOWTO.pdf] PDF]

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