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Re: Bug#701585: marked as done (general: Can't select other languages)

On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 01:50:59PM +0800, Paul Wise wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:57 AM, Russ Allbery wrote:
> > Amen to this.  I care a lot about having fairly complete Unicode coverage
> > in my display fonts, and I've often had to trawl through aptitude to try
> > to guess at which font packages I need to install just to, for example,
> > see the front page of Wikipedia without annoying empty squares.
> ...
> > These may actually be covered by fonts in Debian, but I don't know how to
> > find them.
> When we finally implement DEP-11, we will have the means to implement
> automatic font installation based on needed characters. Hopefully for
> jessie we will be able to catch up with Fedora, who have had this for
> a while now:

This seems wrong to me.  Adding complex schemes to text-drawing backends
sounds like something fragile.  It will slow stuff down, and add surprising
modes of failure as well.

ttf-unifont covers all of Plane 0 (with a lag for new additions) while
taking 6.9MB.  It doesn't look great, but it at least gets rid of those
empty squares.  You can then install better fonts for any ranges you'd want
to use -- it may even be good to install them by default for any popular
languages.  Unlike the minimal installation that's best kept slim, any
device that has a GUI and uses tasksel won't even notice the disk space
taken by several additional fonts.

It'd leave fringe scripts like, say, Tifinagh (used by some Berber activists
in northern Africa, but not for everyday communications) or Futhark (dead
since middle ages, used in Old English, Old Norse and my .sig) which will
have to do with unifont until the user takes a manual action.

Installing ttf-unifont seems like a no-brainer to me: 6.9MB for coverage of
all live scripts.  It'd break your proposal, though: font installation won't
trigger since there's a working, legible (but ugly) character already


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