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Finding Free Fonts for Linux - page 2

Licensing and Liberation

  • July 6, 2010
  • By Joe Brockmeier

Speaking of Red Hat, the Fedora community has been fairly active in packaging free fonts. You'll find more than 100 fonts packaged by Fedora's Fonts SIG on the Fedora wiki. Also, follow M��ir��n Duffy's blog if you're curious about fonts and Fedora. Duffy often posts unpackaged fonts with a call for volunteers to package them for Fedora.

While some fonts are licensed under traditional open source licenses, another option is the SIL Open Font License (OFL). SIL International also lists a number of fonts that are licensed with the OFL. You'll find several Latin character sets, as well as some fonts for Cyrillic, Hebrew, Greek, Tibetan, Myanmar, and other encodings.

The GNU Project has FreeFont, which provides a small selection for Latin alphabets. They're available in TrueType and OpenType. They're also provided under the GPLv3 plus exception, so that documents using the fonts will not be subject to the license.

The Open Font Library is another good source for fonts that can be shared, studied, modified, and used freely. In addition, they include some information on using the fonts as Web fonts too. If you want to spruce up your Web site with some fonty goodness, they'll help you get started using the @font-face tag to do just that. Now let's take a look at wrestling those little rascals onto your system.

Installing Fonts

You'll find two main font formats for Linux these days: TrueType and OpenType. Some foundries still supply Postscript fonts, but you find those less and less. You can install TrueType and OpenType pretty easily, either by copying directly to your ~/.fonts directory, or by using desktop tools to install them.

If you're using GNOME, you should be able to install a new font just by double-clicking the font. You'll then see a preview of the font in various sizes and a button in the lower right-hand corner that says (this should be no shocker) Install Font. I believe KDE has a similar feature, but I didn't have a KDE system handy to try this out while writing the article.

You may need to restart applications or even X so that they "see" the fonts. OpenOffice.org, for instance, may not see fonts right away. In fact, OpenOffice.org may not see OpenType fonts at all. If you want to use an OpenType font with OpenOffice.org, one solution might be to convert it to TrueType using FontForge.

While you won't find quite as many free as in freedom fonts as you will proprietary or free as in beer fonts, you should be able to find enough great fonts to work with on Linux.

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