Reconsider the preinstalled LCG (Latin etc.) fonts

[ LCG means Latin, Cyrillic and Greek ]

Hi all!

To start with, when you install Ubuntu desktop via the daily ISO, you get these packages with fonts acknowledged by fontconfig:

From desktop-common          From desktop-minimal     Due to ghostscript
-------------------          --------------------     ------------------
fonts-dejavu-core            fonts-noto-color-emoji   fonts-droid-fallback
fonts-dejavu-mono            fonts-opensymbol         fonts-noto-mono
fonts-freefont-ttf                                    fonts-urw-base35

Now, when we have established via Let selection of default fonts be based on Noto that we primarily promote fonts-ubuntu for desktop and fonts-noto-core for certain applications and web browsing, I can think that the 23.10 release offers a good opportunity to stop seeding a couple of packages and with that stress test Noto more effectively before 24.04 LTS.

fontconfig-config (version 2.14.2-3ubuntu1, currently in mantic-proposed) includes a list of alternative dependencies on a base set of font packages:

$ apt-cache depends fontconfig-config | grep fonts
 |Depends: fonts-noto-core
 |Depends: fonts-dejavu-core
 |Depends: fonts-liberation
 |Depends: fonts-croscore
 |Depends: fonts-freefont-otf
 |Depends: fonts-freefont-ttf
 |Depends: fonts-urw-base35
  Depends: fonts-texgyre

So fontconfig-config requires that at least one of those relatively complete packages is installed in order to prevent a broken system. But Ubuntu installs five of those. These are my candidates for packages to drop:

It is no longer maintained upstream, includes some intrusive fontconfig files, and has for a long time made it harder to achieve a sensible default font configuration in certain cases.

This is yet another old font which also includes a few non-Latin ones and with that may occasionally be picked over Noto. The Freefont fonts are similar to Helvetica, Times and Courier. OTOH, we would keep fonts-liberation which aims at metric compatibility with Arial, Times New Roman and Courier New.

To clarify: we would still install three of the fontconfig-config base fonts by default: Noto, Liberation and fonts-urw-base35.

Other thoughts and suggestions

  • Maybe fonts-noto-color-emoji and fonts-opensymbol should be moved from desktop-minimal to desktop-common.

  • fonts-noto-mono should probably be added to desktop-common, so its presence does not rely on the PostScript/PDF stuff.

  • Since Depends in fontconfig-config makes sure that at least one reasonably complete font package is installed, I think that all the font packages in desktop-common should be Recommends. (So users can uninstall any font package without uninstalling ubuntu-desktop and friends.)

  • fonts-atkinson-hyperlegible is a new package. The Atkinson Hyperlegible font is focused on legibility and readability, and I think it should be a candidate to add to desktop-common. It would be nice to be able to point visually impaired users to the option to just select Atkinson Hyperlegible in Tweaks and/or the web browser. (But it’s not in main, so if others agree we need to submit a MIR first.)

I look forward to the response to the above suggestions. In particular I hope that some occassionally font minded developers chime in with their input (@jbicha, @seb128, @vorlon). :slight_smile:


Yeah, no need for redundant (especially unmaintained) packages to be preinstalled when we have Noto as a fallback.

@rokejulianlockhart: That summarizes my thoughts well. At the same time fonts is a tricky area, and people look at it from different angles, which is why I seek more input before making changes.

1 Like

After some consultation at IRC I have pushed these commits: