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Re: Default font: Transition from DejaVu to Noto

On 2023-09-09 at 23:23, Paul Wise wrote:

> On Sat, 2023-09-09 at 23:08 +0200, Gunnar Hjalmarsson wrote:
>> My personal view is that it is a change in the right direction, and
>> I have taken a couple of follow-up steps in Debian. There are still
>> loose ends and more work to be done to achieve a consistent
>> configuration in this respect. However, before taking further
>> steps, I feel there is a need to reach out to a broader audience
>> about the change. Hence this message. Basically I'm asking if this
>> move towards Noto is desirable and, if so, I plea for relevant
>> input for the completion of the transition.
> Personally, I found Noto Mono to be very ugly in comparison to the 
> DejaVu fonts that I was used to, so my knee-jerk reaction was to 
> override the fontconfig settings to avoid all of the Noto fonts.

While I concur and have done the same, I am not sure why DejaVu is the
alternative default under discussion.

Prior to the switch to Noto, the default preferred font family (listed
first in /etc/fonts/conf.d/60-latin.conf) was not DejaVu; that was, as
it still is, listed as the second preference. The font family listed as
the first preference was Bitstream Vera.

The change made appears to have been, not moving Noto up in the list
from a lower position, but rather replacing Bitstream Vera entirely with

I have just grabbed version 2.13.1-4.5 of fontconfig-config from
snapshots.debian.org to confirm. Comparing preference order
60-latin.conf from that version against the one from the package version
currently installed on my system, I see:

                 2.13.1-4.5   2.14.2-4
Bitstream Vera   first        not listed
DejaVu           second       second
Noto             not listed   first

If the intended design is that people who prefer one of the
lower-priority entries in the 60-latin.conf lists should remove the
packages that provide the fonts listed with higher preference priority,
then it seems problematic for the former highest-priority option to be
omitted entirely.

Rather than discussing only Noto vs. DejaVu, is there any possibility of
reintroducing Bitstream Vera as a default-font option (even if with a
low priority), for systems which have that installed?

For myself, I have worked around this (since March, when I first noticed
the change) by copying the 2.13.1-4.5 version of 60-latin.conf into
~/.config/fontconfig/conf.d/. That approach appears to mean that I will
miss out on any potentially-desirable changes that may be introduced in
this file in the future, but it was the only way of bringing back
Bitstream Vera as the preferred default font (without
risking having the changes overwritten on a future package update) that
I could find.

   The Wanderer

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one
persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all
progress depends on the unreasonable man.         -- George Bernard Shaw

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