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Re: [XForms] Font issues

From: Jens Thoms Toerring
Subject: Re: [XForms] Font issues
Date: Thu, 29 May 2014 12:40:06 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

Hi Oskar,

On Wed, May 28, 2014 at 04:50:33PM -0700, address@hidden wrote:
>     thanks for your kind words. There are actually several
> application available on Sourceforge, which I built using Xforms:
> Lxoskope,Lxascope, Lxardoscope, Lxiggen and Lxsndtest, some of them
> waiting for an upgrade after this font issue is laid to rest. And
> yes, you can use any of the screenshots for your advertisement.

Thank you! I'll do that the next time I update the screenshots
page. It's always nice to see that XForms is used for "cool"
stuff, keeps me from giving up on it desoite all its draw-

> Regarding the "spirit of Linux", my concern is that Helvetica is a
> proprietary font owned by Linotype. What we get in xfonts-100dpi is
> probably an illegal knockoff, thus not really free. I guess this is
> the reason it is not installed in recent Ubunto distros and derivatives
> (like Mint).

It may be a knockoff, but one that was done by Adobe and Digital
Equipment, and it was, if I can belive what Adrian Nye writes in
the "Xlib programming Manual", donated by these companies, to-
gether with a number of other fonts. And since even Debian dis-
tributes them with a copyright notice in the sources, stating

   Permission to use, copy, modify, distribute and sell this
   software and its documentation for any purpose and without
   fee is hereby granted..."

with the names of Adobe Systems and Digital Equipment Corporation
appearing several times, I guess these fonts are about as free as
you can get;-)

I have no idea if, as Vincent says, the xfonts-100dpi package
has indeed become a victim of the X11->MIR transition - I don't
know if Mint 13 comes with it.

> My understanding of what is happening behind the scenes is extremely
> limited. There seem to be two systems for dealing with fonts, Xforms
> is using the older one.

Yes, it uses the traditional X11 font system, which can deal with
fixed-sized bitmap fonts and also scalable Type1 fonts, but not the
newer TrueType (TTF) fonts. I have thought about adding support for
them but haven't got around to do it and don't even know yet if it's
possible without rewriting half of XForms.

> Maybe by renaming an existing, decent
> looking, free font to something like xforms-font we can avoid issues
> with name clashes.

I'm not too happy with that. First of all, it looks to me against
the spirit of X11;-) I.e., my understanding is that X11 should
take care of the fonts, not an application. One reason for that
is that using "private" fonts won't work when running a program
on a remote machine: XForms is installed on the remoted machine
(as would be its fonts), but these fonts may not be available on
the local machine where they are actually needed (the program
using XForms and thus Xlib will send all it's requests to the
XServer running on the local machine and this has to satisfy
them). That's probably also why XForms always has tried to use
the "smallest common denominator" of fonts, the X11 core fonts.
That some distros now start not installing these core fonts is
regrettable, to say the least.

Then there's also the question of how to pick suitable fonts
to distribute with XForms. Do we use bitmap or Type1 fonts?
Who's going to do the picking? I don't feel qualified to de-
cide which fonts are decent looking enough (and you can be
rather sure that some people won't be happy with the deci-
sion whatever got picked;-)

That's admittedly all not nice to carefully designed interfaces
where a certain font is needed (and where running it in a remote
server configuration may rarely be an issue). But for that my idea
is that a program that requires a specific font should supply it
itself. Then it can be sure it can load this font and use it
instead of the default fonts.

That all doesn't mean that I can't be convinced of your proposal,
it's just that I see too many negatives at the moment. But this
could change with a bit of prodding;-)

                          Best regards, Jens
  \   Jens Thoms Toerring  ________      address@hidden
   \_______________________________      http://toerring.de

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