GNU FreeFont
Why do we need free outline UCS fonts?

A large number of free software users switched from free X11 bitmapped fonts to proprietary Microsoft TrueType fonts, as a) they used to be freely downloaded from Microsoft Typography page, b) they contain a decent subset of the ISO 10646 UCS (Universal Character Set), c) they are high-quality, well hinted scalable TrueType fonts, and d) FreeType, a free high-quality TrueType font renderer is available and has been integrated into the latest release of XFree86, the free X11 server.

Building a dependence on non-free software, even a niche one like fonts, is dangerous. Microsoft TrueType core fonts were never free, they were just costless. Citing the TrueType core fonts for the Web FAQ: You may only redistribute the fonts in their original form (.exe or .sit.hqx) and with their original file name from your Web site or intranet site. You must not supply the fonts, or any derivative fonts based on them, in any form that adds value to commercial products, such as CD-ROM or disk based multimedia programs, application software or utilities. As of August 2002, however, the fonts are not anymore available from the Microsoft Web site, which makes the situation clearer.

Aren't there any free high-quality outline fonts? Yes, there are. The Bitstream Vera fonts were made public, and are now maintained as the DejaVu fonts family. URW++, a German digital type foundry, released their own version of the 35 PostScript Type 1 core fonts under GPL as their donation to the Ghostscript project. The Wadalab Kanji comittee has produced Type 1 font files with thousands of filigree Japanese glyphs. Yannis Haralambous has drawn beautiful glyphs for the Omega typesetting system. And so on. Scattered around the Internet there are numerous other free resources for other national scripts, many of them aiming to be a suitable match for Latin fonts like Times or Helvetica.

Design issues

Which font shapes should be made? As historical style terms like Renaissance or Baroque letterforms cannot be applied beyond Latin/Cyrillic/Greek scripts to any greater extent than Kufi or Nashki can be applied beyond Arabic script, a smaller subset of styles will be made: one monospaced - FreeMono and two proportional (one with uniform stroke - FreeSans - and one with modulated - FreeSerif) will be made at the start.

These minimal style requirements allow the typefaces to preserve the same characteristic spirit regardless of the scripts, so that the font will be a harmonic unity. Some design notes on individual typefaces are available.

Debian GNU/Linux

Users of Debian GNU/Linux system can download a .deb package from the Debian Web site.

NetBSD pkgsrc

Users of the pkgsrc package system or NetBSD can use pkgsrc/fonts/freefont-ttf. The package webpage is at the NetBSD site.


Users of FreeBSD system can download a FreeBSD package from the FreeBSD ports Web site.

Primo┼ż Peterlin, 2006/01/12
update by Steve White $Date: 2013/04/24 09:44:23 $