[linux-elitists] A modest proposal to web designers of the world (was Re: Site feedback: fonts too small)

Heather star@betelgeuse.starshine.org
Thu May 17 10:32:42 PDT 2001


> > I don't know what I have that might be wierd, but under Red Hat 7.1 +
> > Ximian 1.4, my Mozilla expereince on economist.com seems to be quite
> > pleasant. The font sizes on their home page range from the headlines
> > (font face="verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif" size="+1"), which are
> > fairly large to lead-ins for their lead articles (font
> > face="verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif" size="-1") to the lead-ins for
> > the rest of the articles (font face="verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif"
> > size=-2).
> 
> Well, then, how does RH's X fonts configuration (I've also heard
> reasonably good things about Mandrake, IIRC) that's different from the
> rest of the GNU/Linux distros?  In particular, my experience on Debian
> has been that web fonts tend to be pretty well fscked.   If some of the
> GNU/Linux distros have worked this out, why can't the rest share the
> wealth?

What's the big point about fonts, (and I know you licensing fans will 
appreciate this), is that most of them are Non-Free.

Now, purists may argue that having any ability to license Fonts whatsoever
is utterly unconstitutional - in an explicit, rather than implicit sense 
even - although our founding fathers lived before the electronic age.

But, many of the interesting fonts arrive forward from "back in my day" -
the Bronze Age of Shareware, after Big Iron and before the Internet Gold 
Rush (I'll think of something for silver eventually) ... so the most common
font licenses are:
	free for non commercial use. shareware libaries may charge a small
	copying fee [but no more than <N>]
		DFSG contrib, probably

	free for regular individuals only.  All you *bleeped* money-suckers
	get lost.  [40 megapulses of diatribe against how corporations are
	ruining life for real people, deleted.]
		DFSG non-free, if even considered.

	free for individuals. for [a handful of specified uses] contact me
	for a license.
		DFSG non-free, but at least reasonable. 

	if you like it send me <N>
		typical shareware; DFSG non-free.

	if you like it send my favorite charity [described] <N> and tell
	them <some weird message that makes it clear where they're getting
	it from>
		atypical shareware; DFSG non-free.

	if you like it send me a postcard
		debian-legal can probably argue this one for days...

	if you like it you must [do this really incredibly wierd thing
	which it would be hard to imagine someone could prove that you
	did].
		does this mean they really want it to be free but had
		to say something?  or that it's rather unenforceably
		non-free?  Urgh.

Add to these that many were created so long ago that their authors can't
be easily found, plus the fact that the real target of the "money sucking"
diatribes were "freeware" houses stripping all resemblance of readme's
from people's sharewares, and it's very difficult to find fonts whose license
status is clear enough to bother packaging.

At one point I gathered about 30 or 40 of these, but not all are Free, and
many of them just suck for any use but silly posters.

* Heather * The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to
            chance.



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