There are other considerations. For instance, default fonts usually have
been chosen to provide the maximum amount of glyphs of all the fonts.
Making changes here can have unintended consequences with either missing
glyphs (mostly on Windows), or inconsistent rendering of words due to font
fallback for glyphs (mac and linux).
On en.wp we actually removed a math font from our font list for math
elements, because the math elements would render with half the letters in
an equation using this font, and the other half of the glyphs using a
fallback font that looked totally different.
And this is once again one of those areas on en.wp that has seen a lot of
combativeness, so I'd be careful no matter what.
On Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 7:11 AM, Faidon Liambotis <faidon(a)wikimedia.org>wrote;wrote:
On Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 01:32:30PM +1100, Tim Starling
Yes, we should prefer to use free software. We
should also strive to
ensure that our support for users on non-free platforms is optimal, as
long as that doesn't negatively impact on users of free platforms. So
I don't think it is a problem to specify non-free fonts in font lists.
It's a bit more complicated than that. Linux distros ship with fontconfig
(which is used by Cairo, which in turn is used by at least Firefox).
Fontconfig aliases fonts via a set of rules and the default rules map
popular non-free fonts to their free metric equivalents, or generics. e.g.
$ fc-match Helvetica
n019003l.pfb: "Nimbus Sans L" "Regular"
$ fc-match Arial
LiberationSans-Regular.ttf: "Liberation Sans" "Regular"
$ fc-match "Courier New"
LiberationMono-Regular.ttf: "Liberation Mono" "Regular"
$ fc-match INVALID
DejaVuSans.ttf: "DejaVu Sans" "Book"
This effectively means that, for Linux, having the free fonts at the end
of the CSS font selection is probably a no-op: the browser will never
fallback via the CSS, but match the first font on the list to an equivalent
found on the system via fontconfig's fallback mechanisms. It will be an
educated guess and possibly do the right thing but it won't be what the web
This basically strengthens your point: free fonts should be first in the
: I say "probably", because I vaguely remember the interactions between
Firefox & fontconfig to be complicated. Maybe they're being smarter --
someone should test :)
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