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Re: Default font: Transition from DejaVu to Noto

On Wed, Sep 13, 2023 at 09:09:00PM +0200, Gunnar Hjalmarsson wrote:
> There is a problem with fonts-noto-core, though, as several people have
> mentioned already: For non-LCG scripts it provides one font per script. And
> there are quite a few of those. So for a user, who wants to actively and
> often select font in a font picker, the list of font options gets horribly
> long.
> Personally I see that as a shortcoming in the font pickers. They ought to
> offer some "favorites" functionality, in the same manner as it works with
> keyboard layouts. Unfortunately they don't, at least as far as I know.

Why "favorities"?  No other font assumes itself to be special enough to
require such an extra functionality.  And in good font pickers (eg. GTK2 but
spefically _not_ GTK3), each font family gives a single entry, with
styles being a secondary choice.

Also, for pickers that are helpful enough to provide a sample outright,
being told that a family is family means they need to load and render the
sample from only one font file.  I don't see a real way to speed that up
(can parallelize, but that's about it).  Fontconfig's caches let you avoid
having to open the font files to fetch metadata, but there's too many
details that can alter rendering samples (connected monitors, font size,
etc) to cache the images reasonably.

> So we have a conflict of goals here. The good news is that a user who speaks
> some latin language, and who thinks it's important to be able to easily
> select font directly in various applications, can do:

I wouldn't care about Latin languages at all here.  About any font can do
this well, and there are thousands of fonts that do it better than Noto
(plus hundreds of thousands that do it worse).  Heck, my favourite font I
use for non-monospace browser setting is Aroania (bin:fonts-ancient-scripts)
-- a byproduct of a random script I can't even read nor I care about.

> But the many fonts is not only a disadvantage. It allows you to prefer Noto
> fonts for some non-latin scripts, and other fonts for other ditto. This
> flexibility is effectively blocked if DejaVu Sans, where everything is
> bundled into the same font, is installed and default.

This can be done by giving high-quality optional packages a higher score
than the fallback default.

> Since it already has been changed back to DejaVu Sans Mono for monospace,
> let's talk about sans-serif/serif here.

I wouldn't call either Dejavu Sans Mono nor Noto Mono contenders for a
good Latin monospace font, it's a pretty crowded competition.  Things were
different the previous millenium when Dejavu was made, but we can do better.

> you need to be attentive to the font rendering settings. As an example I
> think that enabling 10-sub-pixel-rgb.conf is a good idea for many screens
> when using Noto fonts.

That's a bad default as it produces a distinctly bad result on any non-RGB
(usually rotated) screen.  Monochrome AA is safe, and while it might be even
good to enable sub-pixel RGB _dynamically_, changing sub-pixel dynamically
is not a thing yet as far as I'm aware.  Thus, let's pick an AA default
that's good enough but works for everyone.

Requiring RGB to look good is another strike against Noto.

⣾⠁⢠⠒⠀⣿⡁ I was born a dumb, ugly and work-loving kid, then I got swapped on
⢿⡄⠘⠷⠚⠋⠀ the maternity ward.

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