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Fonts working "out of the box"


First of all, I am not a debian developer, and quite new to debian (although not to Linux). Neither am I a font guru, just a user making observations.

Now, on to the topic: I don't think I have ever used a Linux box were fonts worked satisfying. Debian shares this problem, and the problem is mostly that some applications use "blocky" fonts, bitmapped fonts that are enlarged. I get this behavior in for example kdm, but also sometimes in mozilla etc.

There are many issues with fonts. As far as I know, no good truetype fonts can be directly distributed with debian. Antialiasing is possible, but needs tweaking of XftConfig and a supporting XServer. There are font paths that must be correct, and applications that has to use the correct font settings. Many config files have to be tweaked in order to get good behavior. For example there is such a thing as a font deuglification howto, and it is quite complicated. (I do not mean complicated in the sense "hard to follow" but as in "many steps involved"). But in the best of worlds, the distribution would take care of most of this. This needs coordination between many packages and package maintainers. Is there any such effort ongoing in the debian community? In the policy I could find rules for how font packages should work, but I could not find information about how to properly configure packages to use "good-looking" fonts. Ideally, should bitmapped fonts ever be scaled up? Are there not enough other fonts that can be used instead? Is it possible to prevent it?

Also, for anti-aliased fonts I find that XftConfig has some issues. Especially in that the default one uses a font path that does not include for example a truetype font directory. Can perhaps some mechanism be developed to automatically update XftConfig with the proper font paths? Should Debian identify a couple of good quality fonts and try to use them consistently? I do not know what that would involve, is it possible do you think? Perhaps some recommended-fonts-task could be developed? Is it possible to centralize font control to a single file? Or to a single mechanism, so that a dedicated program takes care of configuring things related to fonts?

I realize that there are many other issues with fonts, like internationalization. What do you think? What problems exist, and how can they be dealt with?


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