Fonts

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Sep. 9th, 2007 | 04:46 am

I've spent a lot of time thus far this weekend looking at various fonts and their licenses, in hopes that some could be included in an Art Studio Spin of Fedora. We're a bit thin on fonts included out-of-the-box, and I think for a lot of graphic designers having a nice variety of fonts to work with right away would be a plus.

With the help of Stephen Hartke's free fonts page, I came up with a list of fonts organized by license. Some fonts are already available in Fedora and many are not. These are the licenses I found in use for the free fonts out there (Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, I am just listing out the license information that I found based looking at the fonts and their documentation since this is pretty much the most important consideration when thinking about packaging something for Fedora):



See the full list of fonts by license and where to get them.

UPDATE: At the suggestion of an anonymous commenter, I went through the Open Font Library and found a couple additional Open Font License fonts as well as a bunch of Public Domain licenses. So the Open Font License list and preview have been updated with two additional fonts - Limberjack and Crassroots. Also, the number of public domain fonts grew so much that they've been split out from the 'misc' preview and now have a page of their own with all of the PD fonts from the Open Font Library.

UPDATE #2: Added Aurulent Sans to the OFL fonts. Added ttxt to the GPL with exception fonts. Added Verily to the Bitstream Vera licensed fonts. Added a new set of font previews for the Design Science License.

UPDATE #3: Added preview for the GUST Font License Licensed fonts. More updates to come as I sift through the super-helpful links people have been giving me! Keep 'em coming! :)
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Comments {41}

Thank you

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 11:59 am (UTC)
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Thank you for making this. I will use this for reference in the future when selecting fonts...

What strikes out is that Bitstream Vera (commonly default UI font) is actually quite *awful* when compared to some of the competition. A suggestion: Select the best SCREEN readable font of those for the default font for next Fedora. It is not from Bitstream family.

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Re: Thank you

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
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Please point us to competition with similar i18n coverage and permissive licensing as DejaVu. Toy ASCII-only fonts don't count

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mihmo

Re: Thank you

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
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I think his/her point was more that they believe Vera/DejaVu is more suited to print than screen (I don't know if that's true or not) and that a font better suited for the screen should be the default for the UI.

If there was a font that was more suited for screen but had less coverage than Vera/DejaVu, is there an issue filling in the holes in the more screen-friendly font with DejaVu? So everyone can read, but not everyone has to suffer the disadvantages of a non-screen font?

Also I wonder if it's only non-screen friendly in particular sections/areas of its letterforms...

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Re: Thank you

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 07:58 am (UTC)
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DejaVu is one of the few FLOSS fonts designed specifically for good screen-reading. That's why it's somewhat fat and round. You can compare it with SIL's fonts, which are outstandign technically on print media but are just too narrow to provide comfortable reading to users.

And no "filling the holes" doesn't work. "Filling the holes" means a significant percentage of our userbase would get a mashup of glyphs with inconsistent styling and weight, which is far worse than whatever people accuse DejaVu of.

Look, I'd love if there was competition do DejaVu. Its authors would love it too probably. But the fact is there is no other project near (in terms of quality, language coverage, openness) so you're all condemned to get DejaVu as default in Fedora and every other serious Linux distro in the near future.

It's really depressing. You read free font lists like yours with raving reviews, and when you check them out they all fail one way or the other.

My font evalutation matrix is:

1. is a font free? (permission to re-distribute and modify).
- Most usually fail on the modify bit, but you need it to fix user-reporter problems)
- Also a font may be formally free, but its build system tied to the original developper environment (apps and/or distro) so in practise it's no use to Fedora users
- GPL without exception is a no-go because of PDF embedding
- You need to check licensing with experts - a lot of free "fonts" contain illegally cut & pasted glyphs from other fonts

2. is it feature-complete (needs at least regular bold italic and bold-italic) because users expect them

3. is it i18n-proof?
- minimum coverage novadays is probably latin + greek + cyrillic, though one may make exceptions for fonts with very specific styles. OTOH they're a no-go as general-purpose fonts
- that includes support of smart opentype features like locl, necessary to substitude balkanic cyrillic forms to russian ones transparently
- sometimes you get latin + some_unicode_block coverage. The latin part is usually poor or a copy of a well-known font, so this kind of font is only useful to fill coverage holes temporarily

4. is it in a modern TTF/OTF format ?
- anything else won't be usable by a significant part of Fedora apps
- even OTF is bordeline because OO.o doesn't support it
- older formats usually fail at 3.
- older formats mean no active maintenance

5. does it have a responsive maintenance team ?
- no font is perfect
- you will get complains by users,
- even if the font is Free it's so much easier to have an upstream you can ask fixes of rather than doing them yourself
(this is where Liberation is failing big way)

6. is it screen-friendly ?
- that's not a blocker for inclusion ; it *is* a blocker to being made default
- usually forces a round style, not the one you're used to on paper
- usually means hinting which is very hard to do and few fonts bother with

Pass your font list through this filter, and you'll see precious little remains.

BTW DejaVu should be filled under "vera license" in your list

Reply | Parent | Thread

mihmo

Re: Thank you

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
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re: DejaVu's screen suitability, that's why I said I'm really not sure it's the case, because it seems a very screen-friendly font to me but I'm no font expert :)

Anyhow, I saddened by your seemingly negative reaction to this list of fonts. I think our goals are simply quite different. I'm not giving any raving reviews to these fonts in terms of your goals! I understand most of the fonts listed here are not complete in terms of i18n/general glyph coverage. But that's not the most important metric for an artist-focused spin. A variety of glyphs, rather than consistency across the full set, is more important in this case.

I have not and will not profess that this font list is suitable for your purposes. As I stated in the original post, "I think for a lot of graphic designers having a nice variety of fonts to work with right away would be a plus."

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Re: Thank you

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
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I quite like your font list, on the contrary. It's a very worthwhile effort and should probably be given an official page in the Fedora wiki to synchronize font packaging efforts. Also a font can be quite useful and worthy of Fedora inclusion without being suitable as the distro default font.

I was reacting to the "why is Fedora using a Vera derivative as default, it's bad, there are numerous better alternatives" comment. Fedora is using a Vera derivative because there's precious little other choice right now. I wrote my long and ugly default font checklist, to help everyone make his opinion on the subject.

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mihmo

Re: Thank you

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
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Also! I've no issues with DejaVu and have not and do not propose to change it as the default in this spin! :)

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Re: Thank you

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 11:33 am (UTC)
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DejaVu/Vera is a screen font and developed that way (and as maintainer of DejaVu, I can know it :-) ). Just don't forget to turn off the Freetype autohinter (which is the default in Fedora) and use the hinting from the font. That autohinter is really giving us headaches since it makes our font look much worse on screen.

Ben Laenen

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OFLB

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
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also take a look at http://openfontlibrary.org

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mihmo

Re: OFLB

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
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you know i couldn't connect to it all day yesterday and now i suddenly can. great :)

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Re: OFLB

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 11th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC)
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The OFLB also publishes Euterpe: a font covering the Unicode Musical block:
http://openfontlibrary.org/media/files/Eimai/191

Useful for artists wanting to typeset their music too:)

Designed by eimai of Dejavu fame.

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two comments

from: Luis Villa [tieguy.org]
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)
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GPL without exception is a bit messy; the implication is that your document would be GPL if you used that font. At least some lawyers would disagree and argue that the document is not really a derivative work of the font, but ideally you don't want to involve your users in that argument.

DSL is FSF-approved, so it shouldn't be a problem to ship those (though of course check with your legal department :)

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GPL fonts, FUN

from: tooto.myopenid.com
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
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GPL without font exceptions is *very* messy. Its ok as long as you use it for things like word documents, as the font isn't embedded, but PDF's with the font embedded are defiantly GPL ;-(, and things like converting the font to outlines is messy middle ground. See here: http://nashi.altmuehlnet.de/pipermail/scribus/2005-April/010622.html for a more in-depth look, with different outcomes for referencing, embedding, outlining or subseting. Fun!

tomh

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mihmo

Re: GPL fonts, FUN

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
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I wonder why folks license fonts under GPL then. I wonder if they realize the consequences - they may just be trying to be friendly to FOSS folks. I think for some of the fonts that are GPL without the exceptions, if the fonts are compelling enough, it might be worth trying to get in touch with the authors and see if they wouldn't reconsider the license if they heard the reasons for why GPL without the exceptions is actually unfriendly to their users in quite a few ways.

Thank you so much for the link to the in-depth explanation of the disadvantages of GPL without font exceptions on fonts; this will definitely be a big help for me when I attempt to come up with a persuasive argument for those authors!

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Re: GPL fonts, FUN

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
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Yep, it's definately worth getting in touch with some designers and encouraging them to think again about the best way to distribute their creation with a license specifically designed for fonts. It should make sense for users and designers willing to branch/contribute back...

Did you come across The Go for OFL campaing resources yet? It's a community campaign designed to help with that:
http://unifont.org/go_for_ofl/

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mihmo

Re: GPL fonts, FUN

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
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No, I didn't come across that! Yet another awesome link, thanks!!!

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Check Scribus

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
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Hi Máirín,

did you have a look at the Scribus (http://www.scribus.net/) mailing list? I don't follow the list too closely, but many people there are professional typographers and obviously also aware of licensing issues. There also seems to be one person involved in the creation of quality free fonts. I couldn't find his fonts while scanning your list, so you might consider asking on the list for even more information on the topic.

Your work is greatly appreciated,

michael

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mihmo

Re: Check Scribus

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
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I have not - I did get some interesting pointers from their wiki but I didn't think to check the mailing list so I will! Thanks for the suggestion! :)

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simosx

Plane 1 fonts

from: simosx
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
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There are some fonts created by George Douros, at
http://greekfonts.teilar.gr/
These include mostly scripts from Plane 1 (ancient scripts, music notation, etc). The license is somewhat similar to public domain. You may want to contact him to ask if it is possible to distribute with an alternative license.

The StixFonts project has been working over ten years to produce quality fonts to be used in academic publications. Quite surprisingly, it is expected they will release them some time this month,
http://www.stixfonts.org/
I cannot find the license details on their website now; afaik, it was a compromise license that enabled derivatives as long as the existing glyphs are not altered/removed.
The importance of StixFonts is that they cover extensive math symbols from Plane 1.

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mihmo

Re: Plane 1 fonts

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:54 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the information!! I will certainly check those out.

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Unicode coverage?

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
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Well, much more important question, than just "how do they look" is "how big part of the Unicode do the fonts cover"...

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mihmo

Re: Unicode coverage?

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
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If you check Stephen Hartke's summary of the fonts, he lists the coverage... many get into Cryllic and Greek but there isn't much Asian and Middle Eastern glyph coverage.

However, these are what I could find, but I am a native English speaker. If folks who are speakers of languages that these fonts don't cover so well know of fonts that are cool and openly licensed that they'd like to see considered for Fedora, I would love it if they could point me to them. Since I don't know any Middle Eastern languages, for example, I think it's probably difficult for me to track down such fonts since I supposed pages talking about such fonts would be written in those languages? And I'd be no use at evaluating the quality of said fonts anyway.

Also, my aim right now is not fonts with the widest coverage, but any fonts at all that may be acceptable for use in Fedora at this point. The goal is to have a wide breadth, not necessarily depth, of fonts for the Art Studio spin (although of course those fonts with the depth of coverage like DejaVu will be included!) Decorative and titling-only fonts I think are quite suitable for this purpose as well though, as they generally tend to be useful tools for the graphic artists this spin is targeting.

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mihmo

Re: Unicode coverage?

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
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Er I should say East-Asian I suppose! Sorry for being a dumb American :)

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timothy

Thanks for this list!

from: tlord
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 04:13 pm (UTC)
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This is a really useful list even as it stands -- looks like it took quite a bit of work.

Sadly, it reminds me of what a pain fonts are to deal with under Linux -- it's to the point that I don't bother to change much of the defaults (thankfully, to my mind fairly generous) available to each program.

(Note: I have no clue as to how fonts are handled in Windows of any version -- could be just as annoying / confusing. When I last installed fonts on a Mac was probably about 10 years ago; I understand they're've been some changes since ;))

Your sample sheets have inspired me to at least *try* getting a few more fonts on my Ubuntu (really LinuxMint) system.

Thanks!

timothy


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simosx

Re: Thanks for this list!

from: simosx
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
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Trying out fonts in Linux distributions is quite easy.
To install you need to place into your home directory, inside a subdirectory called ".fonts".
You can then view the fonts in Applications/Accessories/Character Map.
You can enable the new fonts from System/Preferences/Fonts.
In Windows, when you select a font for the UI, it uses just that font; therefore, if some letters are missing, it does not show something.
However, in Linux, fonts are "merged" together to achieve a wider coverage of the available characters in Unicode. This might be a bit confusing, however it should not affect you if you are only interested in the Latin script (english). Otherwise, you need to delve into /etc/fonts/.

Depending on your monitor (LCD TFT, low DPI), the new fonts may not appear perfect. This happens in small font sizes, so if you increase the font size or use a CRT monitor, you are generally ok. You can also tinker the font settings to make better. Desktop fonts (such as Deja Vu) have special information called hinting that makes it better to view in low DPI conditions.

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mihmo

Re: Thanks for this list!

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
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Much of the work was already done for me by Stephen Hartke, Luc Devroye, and of course the font authors themselves :)

Actually I haven't even explored Luc's page too deeply, there may be some other fonts that could be used there.

Simosx's explanation is a pretty good one for installing fonts. As for getting the ones I have listed, towards the end of the spreadsheet i made is a list of where to get which fonts where. Hope it helps!

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AFPL is indeed incompatible with Fedora

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
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Sadly so on the AFPL. We've been trying to the the 79 URW truetype fonts (the PCL set minus wingdings) freed. They recently disagreed with issuing them under the GPL like they did with the type 1 PDF set. It might be worth having fedora ask for them under the OFL.

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mihmo

Re: AFPL is indeed incompatible with Fedora

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:54 pm (UTC)
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Really? What organization are you with that tried to convince them and they said no?

Do you think Fedora asking for URW to consider the OFL for some of them would help?

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You can add Écolier court to the list

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
Link

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=261881

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mihmo

Re: You can add Écolier court to the list

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
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Fantastic! Thanks for the link & info!

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Free the glyphs in Fedora :-)

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Thanks so much for your research and efforts to improving the open font offerings for the Fedora community. Incredibly useful work :-)
Let me just throw in a few extra links which you may find useful in your font quest for the spin (if you haven't see them already):

- the Freedesktop core font set wiki page points to various quality fonts:
http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/Fonts

- Raph Levien has some more open fonts underway: Museum Caps, LeBe, ATF Bodoni, ATF Franklin Gothic: WIP but still useful IMHO:
http://www.levien.com/type/myfonts/

- Ed Trager's fontguide: http://unifont.org/fontguide/
A great resource with lots of open fonts for non-roman scripts as well: very useful fo designers using Fedora to create content in other alphabets.

- Kaffeesatz:
http://www.yanone.de/typedesign/kaffeesatz/

- FreqMode:
http://www.debian-art.org/content/show.php/FreqMod+Clear%26Artistic?content=39223

- Various font experiments:
http://james.kilfiger.googlepages.com/

- A handwriting font:
http://lair.fifthhorseman.net/~dkg/fonts/dkg-handwriting/

- Some pixel fonts:
http://www.sonntag.nl/seiten/free/selfism/selfism.htm

- Some fonts from Arkandis:
http://perso.orange.fr/arkandis/ADF/

- Seeing your Japanese is good, you may want to check out the IPA fonts
http://www.grass-japan.org/FOSS4G/readme-grass-i18n-ipafonts.eucjp.htm and maybe ping them about picking a clearer license for inclusion in Fedora.

- There's also a font section on Debian-art:
http://www.debian-art.org/index.php?xcontentmode=39

- The OFLB wiki has some useful links:
http://openfontlibrary.org/wiki/Existing_Free_Fonts

- And the OLPC wiki too:
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Fonts

Running ftinfo, showttf or opening the font in fontforge are good ways to expose all the font metadata.

I would really recommend setting up some kind of automation for this review of open fonts in Fedora. (Will be inmensely useful once these fonts are packaged). Maybe you can take some inspiration from the work done by the Debian/Ubuntu communities on this. Here's the result of the initial implementation of a script to review all the fonts in the Debian archive: it shows preview and full font metadata and allows to reduce duplication of packaged fonts: http://pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org/review/
(The source is in the svn of the Debian fonts team.)

We should definetly plan more font-related action at the next LGM...
Do you intend to be there?

Cheers,

--
Nicolas Spalinger
http://scripts.sil.org
http://pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org
https://launchpad.net/people/fonts

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mihmo

Re: Free the glyphs in Fedora :-)

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
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Hi Nicolas,

Wow this is a WEALTH of information, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know about it all! I haven't come across the majority of your links yet.

I would definitely like to be at the next LGM but I probably won't know until a little closer to the date whether or not I'll be able to make it. But it's something I'm aiming to do. :)

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licenses

from: adamwill
date: Sep. 9th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
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You don't need to try and figure out the license compatibility for yourself. Fedora actually has an excellent licensing policy:

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Packaging/LicensingGuidelines

and a list of 'good' and 'not good' licenses:

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Licensing#SoftwareLicenses

I'm pushing the adoption of the Fedora system in Mandriva.

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mihmo

Re: licenses

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
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Yay for Spot! I knew he was working on something like this but I didn't know it was up and ready in the Fedora wiki! Thanks! The list helped me figure out kosher licenses for other parts of the Fedora Art Studio planning as well!

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tom callaway

Re: licenses

from: spot
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 02:32 am (UTC)
Link

Here's the quick summary:

* Aladdin Free Public License - Non-free, not permitted in Fedora
* GPL with Font Exception - OK for Fedora
* Open Font License - OK for Fedora
* Utopia License - OK for Fedora
* GUST License - It is just the LaTeX license, OK for Fedora.
* X11 License - Fedora calls this "MIT", OK for Fedora
* Bitstream Vera License - OK for Fedora
* GPL - This is OK for Fedora, but its not a very good license for fonts.
* LaTeX License - Same as the GUST license, OK for Fedora
* Public Domain - This is OK for Fedora, but please, please, please be careful to make sure that the fonts are explicitly in the public domain and not just "assumed" to be public domain by an website. Many fonts believed to be in the public domain were actually not.
* Design Science License - This license is new to me. If you have a copy of the text of this license, please send it to me so I can review it for Fedora.
* LGPL - OK for Fedora, but an odd choice for a font license.

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mihmo

Re: licenses

from: mihmo
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
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All but one of the public domain fonts were from open font library... so I think they should be okay. I think you explicitly choose what license you're uploading your fonts as to that site.

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tom callaway

Re: licenses

from: spot
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
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We still need to be extra careful. People uploading fonts may not be the original authors of those fonts.

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tom callaway

(no subject)

from: spot
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
Link

You might also want to look here:

http://www.identifont.com/free-fonts.html

Some of them are probably "Free to download" and not ok for Fedora, but some of them may be Free in the FSF sense. :)

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nicubunu

Silkscreen

from: nicubunulj
date: Sep. 10th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
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Recently I found and used in a project the Silkscreen font (useful for userbars and other small display cases) - http://www.kottke.org/plus/type/silkscreen/

Probably the license is not good enough ("You may use it or distribute it as a freeware font on your site, but just don't claim you made it. You may not modify and then redistribute this type family. You may, however, modify it for your own personal use. You also may not charge any money for this font") but maybe the another can be persuaded to adopt another license, I think I will try to contact the author these days.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 13th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
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What about these?

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/09/13/free-fonts-of-the-month-revalo-nadia-serif-qlassik/

and these?

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/category/fonts/

HTH,

Andrea.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 14th, 2007 10:23 am (UTC)
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Have a look here:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/category/fonts/

Not sure about the licenses though.

HTH,

Andrea.

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