Saturday, March 22, 2008

corefonts for the web? liberation fonts ftw!

A lot of people install a package (or packages) on their Linux machines, which enable them to use the so-called Microsoft web core fonts. These are Arial, Times New Roman and Courier. The idea behind this is, that when people design websites and use these fonts, you will get the same experience on your Linux machines, because your fonts are the same.

The problem is, that though MS released the fonts for free at the time (until 2002), the fonts never have been *really* free. Apart from that, Microsoft cancelled the core fonts program in '02. The fonts are still available on the net and the license states redistribution is allowed, but obviously we are left in the dark a bit, since Vista ships with a new set fonts and if I'm truely honest, I'ld rather not use anything create by Microsoft. Can't help it. It's stronger than me...

Now, this might be okay if you are a Windows or Mac user (Apple licensed the fonts back in '07, so they are probably installed on your Mac), but it's not okay with me. I want my software to be *really* free if even remotely possible. Therefore I recently stopped using the msttcorefonts package on my Ubuntu 8.04 machine, because there is a solution and it's *really* free!

We have been able to enjoy free fonts like the Bitstream Vera fonts and the derivate DejaVu fonts for some time now. Most free software users know this. Less people know, however, that Red Hat released the Liberation fonts in 2007. The first release has partial hinting and is probably good enough for most uses. The second release - and I'm not sure which ones Ubuntu offers yet - has full hinting and has at least been released to Red Hat bugzilla.

Anyway, to make a long story short, if you want to use Arial, Times and Courier compatible free fonts, install the Liberation fonts on your box. Free is good.

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