Font maker plans open-source typeface

Under an agreement with the Gnome Foundation, Bitstream says it will release 10 variations on the Vera typeface, aiming to smooth out a rough spot on the road to Linux.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise processors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, science Credentials
  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Stephen Shankland
2 min read
NEW YORK--Typography for open-source operating systems such as Linux took a step forward this week as font maker Bitstream announced it would release 10 fonts under an open-source license.

Special coverage
LinuxWorld 2003
Linux advocates gather
to promote the OS.

The company's plan calls for 10 variations of the Vera typeface to be available under a license that permits anyone to modify the fonts as long as the name is changed. The fonts may be included at no charge with other software packages but not sold on their own, Bitstream said at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here.

The plan is part of an agreement between Bitstream and the Gnome Foundation, which oversees the Gnome graphical environment often used with Linux and other open-source operating systems. Gnome will include the fonts with its software, the foundation said.

Bitstream's plan highlights the growing strength of the open-source movement, which advocates software that may be freely seen, modified and redistributed. The philosophy behind open-source software not only has spread to font designs but also to publishing.

Typography has been a rough spot for Linux. A popular set of fonts used with the operating system actually came from Microsoft, a proprietary software maker. In addition, Linux only now is getting support for antialiasing, the process of smoothing jagged edges of letters that's been available on Windows and Mac OS for years.

Gnome is the default graphical interface used by top Linux seller Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems is adopting it for its Solaris operating system as well. The major alternative to Gnome is KDE, which is used by default in SuSE's Linux.

Curtis Sasaki, head of Sun's desktop Linux efforts, said Sun will make Gnome the default interface by the time of Solaris 10's release. The current Solaris 9 uses CDE (Common Desktop Environment) by default.