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FreeType posts patent warning 206

Anonymous Coward writes "According to the the FreeType web page, there have been some new concerns raised about Apple's patents on TrueType. I hope this doesn't affect the planned TrueType support in XF86 4. " It appears that they are still checking into the issue, but I'd really like TrueType support. A lot. Let's hope Apple responds nicely.
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FreeType posts patent warning

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does the Linux community really have to grab everything for free? I'm sure the development of TrueType wasn't exactly cheap, and Apple is under no obligation to just give the rights away.

    Why should anyone pay for MacOS when the patented technology could just be reimplemented for free?
  • It is a trademark holder that must actively prevent their mark from being released into the public domain by failing to protect it. There is no such requirement with regard to patents.

    What would be interesting to see is whether Apple takes the approach to patents that many companies do (IBM in particular) - that patenting is a source of licensing revenue rather than a means of denying entry into a given technological market, i.e. an 'open licensing' policy.

    Open source patent infringements aren't really an issue in that case - no money made directly off of XFree86's licensing of the technology, no reason to pursue a patent license, and no -real- reason to pursue any other expensive infringement action.

  • Threatening a public backlash? Are you stupid? How could he threaten a public backlash? Does he pull the strings of public opinion?

    Public opinion simply _is_. The poster was correct to note that Apple's behavior in this instance will affect public opinion of Apple, period. Perhaps you don't like that; that would simply indicate that you're incapable of dealing with social interaction with your peers.

  • Patents are meant to protect processes, not the end result.

    If you patent the snagglepuss method of making steel from iron ore, then there is nothing stopping someone else from inventing the droopy method instead. The inputs are the same, the outputs are the same, the method differs. If you use the snagglepuss method to produce copper from copper ore, then you have NOT infringed the patent. Similarly if you take the snagglepuss method and use this a a basis to make a variation to make steel, then you have NOT infringed. You especially see this in medical patents. When one new drug comes out with one particular way of acting, within a few years you'll find many 'clones' of the drug, with minor variation but all working using the same methodology.

    In many fields, this is considered a good thing. I take salbutamol for asthma. It is a good drug for me, with few side effects. My sister takes terbutaline, a similar drug, but with slightly different side effects, as she had problems taking salbutamol. If drugs were treated in the way that you suggest, then no-one would be allowed to produce drugs which act the same as existing ones.

    Software patents are bad, they slow down technology improvements, and in many cases fail the 'obviousness' or "prior knowledge" tests.

  • Of course there are plenty of free TT fonts.

    I assume you're replying to a comment in this thread, not to the original article, given that the original article wasn't discussing free fonts, it was discussing patent encumbrance of font rasterizing software.

    Since xfstt is working so great for me. Why, bother worrying about freetype?

    Because xfstt, being another TrueType rasterizer, would presumably be hit by the same patent.

  • Use a font server like xfstt.

    ...which would presumably be threatened by the same patent. (Could we please have no more "use xfstt instead" postings unless they contain a good reason why the patent won't affect xfstt?)

  • by raph ( 3148 )
    What kind of evidence do you have for this? Can you point to published documents and/or software dated before May 8, 1988?

    If so, it would be an excellent argument to overturn the patents.

    Alternatively, I think some of the Metafont work may anticipate the TrueType patents. People don't give it very many props now, but it contains some pretty amazing technology, and is truly one of the pioneering Open Source projects.

    But these kind of claims require documentation.

    Slashdot is one word, not two. Perhaps you need instruction on how to properly assemble an acronym. Anon smackass.


  • The previous comment is central- if it's true, that Apple failed to file one year after publishing, it's not a valid patent (Even if the USPTO issued one to Apple. The examiners may not have noticed (or even worse, cared) that the deadline had expired on their right to file for patents.).
  • IANAL, but I think that if a patent holder doesn't protect it's intellectual property, it loses the right to defend. If Freetype has been around for a long time, it could be argued that this is the case.

    I'm not a lawyer either, but I can tell you that patents are a little bit different than trademarks, where the owner risks losing protection altogether by failing to enforce their mark. With a patent, so long as you obtain one within a year of first publishing, displaying, or selling your invention, you own the right to make others stop using or selling that invention for 20 years. If you choose not to enforce your patent for the first 10, and then go after people when your invention falls into widespread use, that's your prerogative.

    In Apple's case, it looks like they missed the one year deadline. They published the TrueType specification and software using it circa 1990, but didn't file for their patents until 2 years later.

  • Yes, fonts are copyrightable. However, if they were published as a set of purely numeric data, they wouldn't be. It is because fonts are programs (at least with PostScript -- I assume TrueType is the same), that they are copyrightable. In fact, Adobe took a deliberate design decision when creating the Type 1 font format to make each font a PostScript program, specifically to allow fonts to be copyrighted.

    Of course, if you scan in a font, trace the outline and save it as a new font, you're creating a different program, and hence no copyright infringement has occurred (except in the case where the traced outline happens to be identical to the original, right down to the last hint -- but the chances of that happening are so small as to be negligible).

  • It's good to see someone who TRULY understands something about typography... :) :) :)
    -- ----------------------------------------------
    Vive le logiciel... Libre!!!
  • That's exactly what happened with the telephone. And because of it, Alexander Graham Bell made a fortune, and 'that other guy' (I can never remember his name) lapsed into obscurity.

    Patents don't cause trouble just in the software world. They're a two-edged sword.

    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • This sounds like a clean room implementation that happens to fall under the broad generalization of a patented process. Why pay for work you've been willing to do yourself, simply because it supposedly slices and dices sort of like that thingamajig whamo 2000 patented fifteen years ago. You know the patent, the one for slicing and dicing! IANAL.

    Is a good idea limited to one person?
  • Yes. The LaserWriter II family had TrueType fonts and a TrueType rasterizer in ROM.
  • With the entire opensource movement and the popularity of TrueType I wouldn't see a reason for apple to not make it distributable under some sort of lisence, even if it requires downloading an extra lib or something directly from them.

    This would also boost their popularity a bit if they did do such a thing.

    Life is short, Play hard.... ow.. stich in my side! stich in my side!

  • The rasterizer was written in postscript...that's why in some printer dialogs you could check the "Download TrueType Rasterizer" box.

    Even though we were a Mac based print shop, we discouraged the use of True Type. It's fine for laser printers but it starts to exhibit jaggies at high resolutions (imagesetters running at > 2000 dpi). Type 1 fonts don't do this.
  • The irony of the situation is that one can patent font systems, but one cannot patent the individual fonts.

    For example, someone mentioned to me that Corel, when in need of fonts, simply wrote a font-copier, and created a whole new set of fonts with different names.

    Great irony would exist if we could have all the fonts in the world, but have to pay money to look at them. Apple walks a tightrope with this one, and they know it.

    In reality, they cannot truely block the usage of truetype fonts, or block the software necessary for using it. One can post source code, and indicate that it's usage may be illegal in any particular country; Apple condemning such code's existence would simply put it into the outreaches of the law.

    They are, in effect, powerless to really do anything against those who really want truetype fonts. But for those who are not willing to go around the world searching for a TT renderer, Apple could detriment it's usage in, for example, XFree86 4.

    The best Apple can do is destroy the mainstream distribution. But the possibility does not exist that they can even dent the background distribution of covert software, in my humble but correct opinion. Those that will pay for Apple's restrictions, should they be placed on Truetype, would be the users just starting with Linux.

    It is also a concern as to how Corel will play a part in this, being a font giant itself, and self proclaimed Linux advocate.

  • Wouldn't that be like eliminating the entire concept of patneting an idea? Think of it. What if say a chemical engineer of a company develops a process that makes steel 20 times faster than before. He patents the process. Fine. Now what if they hire someone, for the same company, develops software to handle the process and sells it. Now what do they do if someone steals the concept out of the software?

    Yeah.. you missed it ;>

  • Well... how? :-)

    Where should I copy the ttf-fonts?

    Anything else?

  • by styopa ( 58097 )
    I hate pixmap fonts. It would be very nice if Apple let XFree86 use TrueType.
    Perhaps it is time to ask SGI to be so kind as to donate their vector based graphical technology and help Linux encorperate it and make it standard. Then we really wouldn't have to worry too much about fonts and scalability. Vector based fonts are much nicer than TrueType fonts.

    Until then lets hope Apple decides to play well with others.
  • It seems that moving servers and maintainership outside the us migjht not be an optimal solution since it would prevent the major distros - RedHat, Suse, Caldera, and anyone else that bundles patent-infringing software from including it in US-distributed versions, based on earlier points in this discussion.

    Let's hope Apple puts their money where their mouth is WRT OSS and licenses the technology gratis to Freetype, xfstt, etc.
  • ...or we could just wait and see what Apple really does before jumping to conclusions, since no one at Apple has made any statements about this yet.
  • I'm surprised I haven't heard of Apple doing anything negative with the patent in an attempt to hurt Microsoft, considering how often they're used in Windows...
  • Until around the mid 70's, IIRC, software patents were automatically disallowed. That was a bit worse than optimum. OTOH, I think that it may be the best choice, because there aren't any competent patent clerks (i.e., patent clerks competent to judge which processes are either a) obvious or b) prior art). This puts all users at a severe risk of patent suits. If you keep a stable of lawyers in house, this isn't too severe a threat, as you can prove most of those pieces of garbage invalid with only a few ten's of thousands of dollars, and a few person months of lawyer time. For the individual software developer however...
    Software patents offer us nothing! Software patents put us at constant risk! They are vile, evil, etc.
    Now a good case could be made that certain carefully selected pieces of code actually deserve a software patent. Unfortunately, those pieces are so swallowed in a vast sea of trivially obvious tricks or prior art that it becomes nearly impossible to select them. And one is at nearly as much risk (or, sometimes, even more) over invalid patents as over valid ones: What percentage of developers can afford to defend in court against a claimed infringement?

    WRT this particular case: I haven't studied whether or not Apple should be granted a patent on the TrueType code. It is enough that they have one, and I couldn't defend myself against them. The strong right arm carries the day.

    I find this to be a clear witness to our current judicial system's origin in the midieval Trial By Combat (of selected champions).
  • This kind of hair-splitting argument does not enamour me of the Patent Law. It rather argues for the repeal of the entire system (perhaps to replace it with something at least a little more sensible).
  • No, you missed it.

    Patents are not secrets. If I patent a process to make widgets, the information on my process is publically available.

    Why steal the concept of making steel 20 times faster than before from software that handles the process, when I can get the information on the process from the patent filing itself?!?!?!
  • um can't processes and designs be patented? much like car design and what not? the point is if the process is patnentable, wouldn't it be extractable via the software?
  • You're right, of course, but these days whether an espression actually has to be a written program depends on jurisdiction. I don't know about the US for sure, but in Canada pure binary data - even compiled object code - is protected by copyright.

  • This may be becoming irrelevant quite quickly for the two following reasons:
    1. Diskspace is cheap, compression is fast
    2. X can use font servers, font servers can be in some place US patents don't apply
    The first means that it may soon be possible to "use" TrueType by pre-rendering the small point sizes that benefit from moving control points and store them in some format similar to Type1 bitmap fonts, including things like leadings and real kerning info for that point size, and then use the renderer to render the outlines for bigger point sizes without using the patented features.
    This has the added benefit that "hinting" bitmaps can is easy to distribute between a lot of developers on the internet :)

    The second means that you can keep your font server in some patent-free zone and use just the result of using the patent - afaik the patent protection does not extend to products that are manufactured using patented technologies.

  • In Apple's case, it looks like they missed the one year deadline. They published the TrueType specification and software using it circa 1990, but didn't file for their patents until 2 years later.

    This is the second time this has been claimed, but nobody has provided the relevant patent numbers or provided any evidence. Could we have them, please?

  • That would be Elisha Gray, who ended up founding Western Electric.
  • You know Gates isn't going to allow that to happen? Although if it did, we could benefit a great deal.

    Don't mean to be pessimistic, but....
  • Why does everyone keep pining for TrueType fonts? You can have them in X now; I certainly do. You can either rebuild your X server with support compiled in, or have a separate, dedicated font server. I prefer the latter solution because it's easier to upgrade.

    Here's how I did it:

    1. Grab a copy of the FreeType font server here [] (for linux/x86 w/glibc2), h ere [] (for solaris/SPARC) or here [] (patch to XFree sources -- not for the faint of heart).
    2. Put the xfsft executable somewhere in your $PATH.
    3. Get a directory full of TT fonts. I have a directory on my Linux partition full of symlinks to /dosc/windows/fonts/*.ttf, for example. /usr/X11R6/lib/fonts/tt is not a bad place.
    4. Run the ttinst [] script in that directory; this will create a fonts.scale file.
    5. ln -s fonts.scale fonts.dir
    6. echo "catalogue=/usr/X11R6/lib/fonts/tt" > /usr/X11R6/lib/fonts/tt/xfsft.conf
    7. Add the following to your .xinitrc:

      xfsft -port 7100 -config /usr/X11R6/lib/fonts/tt/xfsft.conf
      sleep 1 # Give xfsft a chance to start up
      xset +fp tcp/
      xset fp rehash

    And you're set!

    Steve 'Nephtes' Freeland | Okay, so maybe I'm a tiny itty

  • You're missing my point. If you had a devine spark of innovation that would make you $30M, you'd sell out. Blowfish is a symmetric algorithm, while RSA relies on public/private keys. You're comparing apples to oranges. They're both fruit, but they're not the same thing. What have you released to the public domain that would've made you rich... you seem to be very humble.
  • I have Mandrake 6.0 which comes with xfs and a ttfonts directory. How does this compare to the xfsft mentioned above? I tried adding some *.ttf files to the ttfonts directory and running /etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs restart, but the fonts still aren't available.

    Does anyone know where the documentation on using True Type fonts with Mandrake is? Or should I just uninstall xfs and follow the directions above for installing xfsft?
  • This claim has been denied earlier. Are you sure that is isn't a (false) rumor?
  • re: "If I wanted to pay for software I would use Micro$haft Winblow$."

    That isn't my reason for switching to Linux.
  • I believe this particular nuance of copyright law is the case only in the U.S.; I've seen articles by font designers lamenting the fact. (Of course, I've seen articles by font designer Chank Diesel cheering the fact, so who knows what the profession as a whole thinks?)

    So in Europe, as far as I know, both a font's design and its code can be protected by copyright.
  • Does anyone know whether "xfstt" uses any of the patented techniques? Similar results wouldn't automatically imply a patent violation.
  • AFAIK, most RedHat 6.0-based distros (including the orginal RedHat 6.0), include Enlightenment which requires FreeType to render truetype fonts in ethemes.

    FreeType does a great job -- you can see it's excellent anti-alaising work in the e.theme Hand of God.

    For full documentation see the FreeType documentation.
  • Monopolies are bad. However, saying that Joe Schmo who has patented TrueType Fonts has a monopoly over it is wrong. If Joe had a monopoly over it, then he'd own ALL the fonts, and be able to rape you financially because you can't use a gui without a font. In this case, Joe simply owns what he has produced... last time I checked that was called Capitalism, Supply and Demand. Move to China if you want to complain about IP. Become ONE with China, share your innovation, your drive to succeed, and collect your checks from the government. Live in ONE time zone, be ONE BRAIN!! I AM BORG!!! People used to fear communism, after its failure, people just take bits and pieces of it and say they want it implemented in Capitalism. With Company A produced Widgets, and had to allow anyone to produce Widgets for free, then MA' BELL will come around and rape Company A because they can create Widgets faster and sell them for less because they can afford a loss in revenue. Go analyze your philosophy a little more closely, and you'll realize that Capitalism will not function in the technological sense without IP.
  • Funny enough, while following lectures in competition law, I encountered a lecturer who was very much in favour of abolishing the patent system. His PhD dissertation on intellectual property has been quoted in one or more Supreme Court decisions, so he might have had a clue on the subject. Funnily enough he was as much a capitalist as you can find in Europe and mantra of his work was 'competition is the lifeblood of innovation'. This somehow gives me impression that your opinion on people opposed to certain forms of IP is less valid than you might think.
  • Just to follow-up on my above post, Apple did NOT miss the deadline.

    The date of filing was May 9, 1989. They published the specification (according to your information) in 1990, about three years later.

  • by mik ( 10986 )
    Metafont predates these patent applications by at least 3 years and looks (to me) like it effectively covers all the claims.

    What will they rethink of next?
  • The Laserwriter II series, introduced in January 1988, had TrueType support.
  • by Neph ( 5010 )
    You'd think after previewing 4 times I'd get it right. Here's the mistake:

    xfsft -port 7100 -config /usr/X11R6/lib/fonts/tt/xfsft.conf &

    Without that ampersand, X would never get past that line to the rest of the script.

    Steve 'Nephtes' Freeland | Okay, so maybe I'm a tiny itty

  • The LaserWriter II, introduced in January 1988, had TrueType support. Sorry for any confusion I created with earlier vague dates.
  • Considering that every single person who owns a computer (at least Intel based) now a days is sure to have paid the Microsoft Tax on at least one of them, everyone already paid for all the TrueType fonts in Windows -- so just use those. I know I personally paid for at least four different copies of Windows - but only "actively" use two -- one on my wife's computer and one in a vmware session...
  • I don't have much to add here except ask if somebody could moderate the informative parent to this post up? It made a big difference for me and is very succinct :)
  • Since when does Gates, or Microsoft for that matter, have a say in what Apple does?

    And before you even consider their $150 million investment - it's non-voting stock.
  • by fwr ( 69372 )
    How about a unidiff next time... :-)
  • This is one of those cases where it might be nice to block out a specific IP address, since this guy has been doing this stuff all over Slashdot. Or, at least we could get some moderators to moderate this stuff down to -10^100 or so.
  • I can't elaborate much, but IIRC, it first appeared in a book called "Tex and MetaFont" by Knuth (don't know the date or publisher). It was about how to create mathematically defined fonts for publishing documents (quite awhile before postscript).
    Whether that it means that all of these various patent claims are invalidated by prior art? IANAL! (Also, I've never actually read the book.)
  • Yes, you can use Ghostscript, a free implementation of desktop postscript (tm) for Unix-like OS's (and Windows / Mac -- but it's uncommon), to display anti-aliased postscript fonts on the screen.

    The biggest problems with desktop postscript (tm), is it can be sluggish on some machines, and that free postscript fonts are rarer then plain old TrueType fonts that everyone uses and that finally many postscript fonts and/or desktop postscript have all kinds of legal issues involved.

    But at any rate, the last time I checked, the GIMP 1.1.x has excellent support for anti-aliased postscript fonts, as does xpdf, KDE postscript viewer app and gv. More apps are on there way, I am sure....
  • Sure he does.
  • Boy, you've convinced me. It is definiely more efficient to have people constantly reinventing the wheel, rathen than making a small payment to someone who has already done the work. Thanks for the enlightenment.
  • Large font files. Slow font loads. RAM hog. etc. Outside of that, not a bad idea.

    Personally, my choice would be to define a character in a font as a catenation of bezier (sp?) curves. There should be lots of curve drawing code available, and catenation isn't hard: Just define the top of letter to bottom of letter as one unit (or 1000 or 1023 or ?? [if you don't want to deal with floats]) set hScale = vScale, define the bounding box, define the centers of each curve, etc.

    But there's lots of detail work. Creating each good looking font is loads of work. Defining an API that existing programs can use is a bear. etc.
  • Hmmmmm. I'm not a moderator, but perhaps there should be a "DIE THREAD DIE" option. Or some other restriction on obvious cascades, which seem to be either

    a) two camps with immutable and opposing opinions battling each other on an issue, or

    b) (today at least) pointless content-free cascades.
    1. First -- there's the pixel size vs screen size problem (the hinting should adjust to the dpi of your monitor -- giving two or more axes to vary the font over...).
    2. Second -- its easier to generate multiple separately hinted type 1 fonts from the TTF font (assuming that you can understand the hinting info)

  • At a guess, then you mean ~1979 (based on MetaFont being MF78), and the publisher was probably Addison-Wesley (I think that they did the TeXbook and a few other of Knuth's books).

    What I was asking about was concrete points to contest the patent on -- "A bit is from this bit of software, a bit from that, and a few thingies here and there, and sorta this, and that, and it is a nice day today" doesn't really stand up in court

  • Another advantage to using a font server is that it keeps the X server from coming to a griding halt when it needs to render a font with many glyphs. Ever click on one of those eastern fonts with a zillion different characters in it?

    Even small fonts take a while to render on a 386 or 486 X terminal, so the concurrency provided by a separate font server is highly desirable there.

  • Why not just convert TrueType fonts to a format similar to TrueType, but which is not TrueType? To do the conversion, render the fonts into a memory buffer at 1000 points with no anti-aliasing, trace around the edges, record the key points, and save them as "vector" graphics. Then use the anti-aliasing feature of FreeType to render the fonts. The font binaries would come out much larger, but since the patented portion (the TrueType rendering engine) would be almost eliminated, there would be no more problem with Apple.

    Of course, we're all jumping to conclusions here and maybe, just maybe, Apple will give FreeType their blessing. It seems to me that Apple would benefit the most just by requiring a small notice to be displayed whenever the FreeType engine is used. It would be healthy for the religious movement they have built.
  • by heroine ( 1220 )
    I've been using xfstt for years. You don't need to hope for anything as regards true type fonts. I hear xfstt took some brilliant programming to pull off but the solution isn't always the most hyped.
  • Conversely, it would really hurt Apple's popularity if they were to refuse to let XFree86 make use of TrueType. Can they really afford that kind of backlash at this point?
  • by Stephen "The Carp" C ( 1007 ) on Wednesday August 18, 1999 @08:42AM (#1740006) Homepage
    As the Xfstt maintainer I thought I should post a
    note. I was informed of this patent a few weeks
    ago but hadn't had a chance to really look at
    it beyond a quick glance.

    Suposedly it only covers "hinting". Someone
    had said to me that prior art almost definitly exists (going back to the egyptions and the
    ancient greeks no less).

    It was also pointed out that Apple has never
    pressed this issue with anyone. I have been to
    busy lately to figure out how/if to respond to
    this problem.

    As it is now I plan to release xfstt 1.0 within
    a few days (no major changes since the last one..
    just a few minor fixes and updates that make
    things a bit more polished).

    If Apple isn't enforcing the patent...then might
    as well let sleeping dogs lie. At worst it can
    be moved to servers and maintainership outside
    of the non-free world.
  • Could you elaborate?
  • In order to get a patent, you have to fully disclose the thing being patented. That's the whole point.

    Coca-Cola keeps their formula secret. It's a "trade secret". They do *not* have a patent on it. You can't have both patent and trade-secret protection for the same intellectual property.

    Transmeta may have some patents. Those patents may be part of a *larger* thing that we don't know about, but the entirety of the processes that're covered by those patents are disclosed fully.
  • I agree about SGI's fonts - I think SGI's fonts are roughly comparable in quality to Apple's fonts, with Microsoft's fonts trailing them. Of course, Linux font technology trails even Microsoft's :-(.

    SGI's fonts are a major reason I still use a 1994 Indigo2 running Irix instead of Linux as my workstation. I find it much more comfortable to read stuff.


  • > Suposedly it only covers "hinting". Someone had
    > said to me that prior art almost definitly
    > exists (going back to the egyptions and the
    > ancient greeks no less).

    AFAIK, "hinting" determines what the fonts looks like at different sizes. TrueType font Foo at 12 point may have its serifs positioned a bit differently than the same font at 5 point, for reasons relateded both to aesthetics and readability. I don't think whatever the Greeks and Egyptians did could be considered prior art.

    I'd suggest keeping a sharp eye on patent issues. I would not put any trust in a company's laxity in enforcing a patent. A change in leadership could change a company from benign to litigious. If Apple really wants to come down on you and put you in the poorhouse, they probably can. It would be irrational and potentially bad PR for them to do so, certainly, but human beings in general are not always rational and they don't always act in their own best interests. I would not put too much stock in anyone's forbearance.
  • Simple character outlines are only part of the problem.

    You need to be able to handle kerning of letters, substituting ligatures for 'fi', 'ffi', etc. and do all this in a language neutral way (so that the system will work for Arabic and Hebrew).

    There was an interesting piece by somebody on the merits of OpenType vs QuickdrawGX on things like this...

  • So, you're saying that any software that isn't Open Source(tm) and subjected to "peer review" is software that isn't good for anything?

    First off, the concept of "peer review" comes from the academic sphere, where it is new ideas that are reviewed, not tarballs. Furthermore, the "peers" in the academic sphere are qualified and credentialed people. Not just a random ad-hoc meritocracy made up of the people who live online.

    Second, there is a lot of good code out there which is only distributed in binary form, which is very well produced, and doesn't need to beg it's userbase to fix it.

    You can have your little guilds of programmers if you like, and read each other's code with gusto, if that's what you enjoy doing. That doesn't mean you can crawl around in everybody else's code, nor does it mean your code is automatically better than theirs.

    This is not an 'astroturfer' sentiment. It's the way a whole lot of code is written, distributed, and used. Not just code from Microsoft.
  • Don't take my word for it, take Microsoft's: type/history/history.htm []

    A brief history of TrueType

    The TrueType digital font format was originally designed by Apple Computer, Inc. It was a means of avoiding per-font royalty payments to the owners of other font technologies, and a solution to some of the technical limitations of Adobe's Type 1 format. Originally code named "Bass" (because these were scalable fonts and you can scale a fish), and later "Royal", the TrueType format was designed to be efficient in storage and processing, and extensible. It was also built to allow the use of hinting approaches already in use in the font industry as well as the development of new hinting techniques, enabling the easy conversion of already existing fonts to the TrueType format. This degree of flexibility in TrueType's implementation of hinting makes it extremely powerful when designing characters for display on the screen. Microsoft had also been looking for an outline format to solve similar problems, and Apple agreed to license TrueType to Microsoft. Apple included full TrueType support in its Macintosh operating system, System 7, in May 1990. Its more recent development efforts include TrueType GX, which extends the TrueType format as part of the new graphics architecture QuickDraw GX for the MacOS. TrueType GX includes some Apple-only extensions to the font format, supporting Style Variations and the Line Layout Manager. Microsoft first included TrueType in Windows 3.1, in April 1991. Soon afterwards, Microsoft began rewriting the TrueType rasterizer to improve its efficiency and performance and remove some bugs (while maintaining compatibility with the earlier version). The new TrueType rasterizer, version 1.5, first shipped in Windows NT 3.1. There have since been some minor revisions, and the version in Windows 95 and NT 3.51 is version 1.66. The new capabilities include enhanced features such as font smoothing (or more technically, grayscale rasterization). Microsoft's ongoing development effort includes the TrueType Open specification. TrueType Open will work on any Microsoft platform and Apple Macintosh machine, and includes features to allow multi-lingual typesetting and fine typographic control.
  • I tried adding some *.ttf files to the ttfonts directory and running /etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs restart, but the fonts still aren't available.

    init.d/xfs is just a script, which starts the actual server. The server binary itself is typically /usr/X11R6/bin/xfsft. Make sure it's present. If you're running the script with "restart", make sure xfsft is actually running (ps waux | grep xfsft). If not, use /etc/rc.d/init.d/xfs start for initialization.

    Assuming that's ok, possible problems are:

    • The directory with the TrueType fonts isn't being pointed out to xfsft. Look for the config file loaded on the commandline by the init.d/xfs script; it may be /usr/local/etc/xfsft.conf. Check that file for the catalogue= option, which should point to the directory your fonts are in.
    • The font server is not in your font path. Diagnose by checking xinitrc files (/usr/X11R6/lib/xinit/xinitrc and ~/.xinitrc) for xset +fp; you should see something like xset +fp tcp/; xset fp rehash. It needs to be added if not there.
    • No fonts.dir file in the TrueType font directory. To generate it if needed, run the ttinst Perl Script (see my original post).
    I think that about covers it. You can e-mail me if your problem still isn't solved...

    Steve 'Nephtes' Freeland | Okay, so maybe I'm a tiny itty

  • Strange. You use the "open standard" in a open source like context. And give M$ credit for being so "open" with their standard (Yet, this is clearly a Apple technology or M$ forgot to trademark it, so Apple was able to "steal" the trademark). Then you go on to slam "Red$at and $u$£" (as you put it) for charging for free stuff. Well, I ask you if M$ is so "open" and developed TrueType where can download the source on M$'s ftp site. Last I checked, although "Red$at and $u$£" charges for CDs, the complete source is freely available on their ftp servers! Wait...was that Gates posting?
  • I have Java turned off on my system because it seems to crash Netscape all the time. I can tolerate silly applets not running better than I can tolerate crashes.

    Even when it's not crashing, it's slow as molasses. Perhaps it will like me better when I upgrade to a R10000 one of these days.


  • What I wonder is, why can't I use URL references anymore? The "a href" tags keep getting stripped.

    Read up here, especially for those of you who believe Microsoft invented TT. Basically, it was Apple's response to Adobe's Postscript, which Adobe wasn't letting Apple develop for their own technology. TT became the foundation for QuickDraw GX. MS had indeed made something called TrueImage, but it died of uselessness, and they licensed TT from Apple.

    M$, to their credit, now acknowledge Apple created TrueType: htm
    ...which apparently when David Every wrote the TT article on MacKiDo, they didn't. There's also the MS standard "ClearType" ult.htm
    which was released last year at Comdex. I haven't heard about it since.


  • > Patents != capitalism.
    > no-patents != communism

    in support of this - lot (maybe all) of the 'real-world' communist countries (USSR, rest of east-european countries) had patent laws, not very different from patent law in capitalist countries.

  • Why steal the concept of making steel 20 times faster than before from software that handles the process, when I can get the information on the process from the patent filing itself?!?!?!

    Exactly! This is why industrial processes are often covered by trade secret, not by patent. The whole point of patents is to encourage the making public of innovations, with the time-limited monopoly on the idea granted as the reward for making public something which a person (or corp) could have kept secret as long as feasible. (Whether the current US patent system actually serves that purpose today is a different question ...)

    I know of at least one instance of a patentable industrial process that was held as trade secret instead. The reasoning? To patent it would allow my competitors to use this idea. They could violate the patent and I would never know. I don't intend to sell this idea, I just plan to use it to make my real product more efficiently. Therefore, there is no benefit and probable harm to my business by pursuing a patent.

    This same company, however, seems to be aggressive about obtaining patents on improvents to their manufactured end product themselves. In that case, if they incorporate an innovation into their product without securing patent protection, all their competitors would have to do is to duplicate the innovation without incurring the research costs and risks themselves. So patents make sense in those cases.

  • xfstt did take some brilliant programming. As
    the current maintainer I can only take credit
    for a few of the newer features...mere hacks
    compared to a complete rendering engine that
    was written from scratch by the original author.

    However we do need to hope that Apple doesn't
    decide to use their patent...defending it
    could mean costly legal battles for some of us.
  • Ummm. I don't know quite how to respond to that, other than to say that YES, Apple developed TrueType. Microsoft licensed it from them for Windows 3.1, and has used it since then, but Apple did develop it. I'm not sure exactly how "open" a standard it is, because Apple expects a licensing fee to use their TrueType stuff... I dunno if a cleanroom implementation like FreeType gets by that tho. (I hope so...)
  • MMmmmmm...meatballs...Homer wants meatballs...
  • Sub-pixel rendering has been around for a long time. Microsoft didn't invent it.
  • It would be very nice if Apple let XFree86 use TrueType.

    Heh.. Yesterday I said something about how the IBM/G3 Linux systems might not cetch on, and several people replyed "Yea, but Apple will help get GCC up to speed, GCC is better than thier compiler." Well... I doubt it.

    Apple's support of GNU has always been more hype IMHO than fact. They like to say they do to gain market share, but when it comes down to it, they seem to need to be forced to do anything. If people are going to hope it will happen, they will probably be SOL.

    Think about it. IBM lets out motherboard specs for Motorola processors, hoping Linux will be used on them. What would Apple gain by getting GCC to work better with the G3? They wouldn't have people buying thier hardware, because it would be avaliable cheaper else where. They wouldn't have people buying thier OS, because if they developed GCC for the hardware, Linux would be stronger on the hardware. What's left? Well, maybe the "polish" like fonts, GUI stuff... Oh, hey, maybe Apple will let out thier font technology too, so no one has a reason to buy anything from them!

    Heh.. I don't see it happening.

  • Apple and Microsoft cross-licensed technology. MS got TrueType. Apple got something that was (surprise) useless. Or at least never used.

  • IANAL, but I think that if a patent holder doesn't protect it's intellectual property, it loses the right to defend. If Freetype has been around for a long time, it could be argued that this is the case.

    Two flies in the ointment; I can't remember if this is in relation to trademarks or patents; I could, however, imagine similar laws applying to the two. Secondly, to fight Apple in the courts would require a fair bit of money which I would imagine the Freetype authors don't have (they certainly couldn't afford legal advice on the patents, according to the web page).

    In any case, I hope Apple allows the continued use of truetype fonts for no charge. *crosses fingers*

  • What if the process for making steel 20 times faster is never allowed to be marketed and sold, because someone holds the patent on making steel the old way?

    This example would never happen, but it does happen often with software. FreeType is faster and less bloated than the TrueType support developed by Apple and MS. This is the problem with software patents - better software can be suppressed because someone thought of it first. It's not the idea that counts, its the implementation.
  • No more so than its extractable from the patent application.
  • This statement seems to be inconsistent with the History of TrueType []. According to that doc, Kaasila completed work on TrueType in August 1989. In fact, Kaasila started work on TrueType in August 1987, so there would have been exactly three months to get this into the LaserWriter II. Operating system support would not be announced until over three years later (this data from the Interview with Sampo Kaasila [].

    So I'll be skeptical of this claim unless I see some hard evidence.

  • Just to make it clear, binary font files still are copyrighted, only the 'design' can not. You can't legally cat YourFont.ttf > MyNewFont.ttf (of course you would need to change some metadata too.)

    You can 'copy' someone elses fonts as long as your font drawings are original. For example, you can scan in text and then draw your own outlines around the pictures of the glyphs.

  • Yes processes can be patented(any thing novel and useful can). From what I understand of what you are saying in the example you provided earlier, is the process can be extracted by reverse engineering the software that
    handles the process. If this is wrong, please clarify.

    My response was, don't waste time figuring out the process from the software that handles it, just get the information on the process from the patent on it.

    Patents are public information. Of course, implementing them without a license can get you in trouble, but you knew that already, right? :)
  • If we didn't, we'd still have ENIACS that take up entire buildings, cars that get 2 MPG and run at 10 MPH, and daisy-wheel printers. A lot of Japanese industry is based on improving on others' ideas. Of course, the last post was probably coming from a country that stubbornly refuses to use the English measurement system, even though the English aren't using it any more.
    "I already have all the latest software."
  • Patents are not secrets. If I patent a process to make widgets, the information on my process is publically available.

    Not necessarily, many companies keep their processes secret, IE Coca-Cola. Transmeta hold at least two patents, yet we still don't OFFICIALLY know what they are doing.

  • Just a factoid.
    Apple don't have a PPC compiler.
    AFAIK they use MrC which is the Motorola C compiler. Very Fast. Not OS :(
    Motorola on the other hand could probably be
    convinced to merge MrC with GCC. That would be nice. :D
  • So, you're saying that any software that isn't Open Source(tm) and subjected to "peer review" is software that isn't good for anything?
    Actually, he explicitly stated the opposite of what you're accusing him of.

    I'll make the effort of chewing the statement for you so it will fit nicely in your spoon.

    "Don't confuse hobbyist, price-free software (which is also good...) with software which seeks to benefit from peer"

    Hobbyist price-free software implies binary-only. When people involved with free software say "price free", it's to differentiate it from what has been termed as "Open Source" by some. As we can see from the "(which is also good)" part, he's not saying that software without source is not good for anything.

    "They often overlap, but there's no intrinsic reason why the one is a subset of the other."

    This means that programming can be a completely profitless venture as either open source or binary only. Or it can involve profit either way.

    Regarding peer review, the concept of also has a strong foothold in cryptographical circles, where what amounts to tarballs are often reviewed. Any closed algorithm tends to not get much regard. Since software in general relies on the same principles, I don't see how that's a stretch at all. If anything, the peer review is more necessary because there are more oppurtunities for bugs the larger the codebase gets. Regarding credentials, if you can come up with a way to crack an cipher, or find a bug in some source code, I don't think anyone is going to ask for your certifications or degree before listening to your input.

    As before, this doesn't mean that any given piece of peer-reviewed code is *always* going to be better than any given piece of non-reviewed code. Peer reviewed way has demonstrated to uncover and get fixed shortcomings and bugs better than similar closed-source endeavors, though.

    For instance, when testing standard system tools, GNU tools had a lower failure rate than any of the proprietary UNIX tools. Take a look at rl.uwmadison/CS-TR-95-1268 [] for details.

    To quote a bit of it:

    "The failure rate of utilities on the commercial versions of UNIX that we tested . . . ranged from 15-43%." "The failure rate of the utilities on the freely-distributed Linux version of UNIX was second-lowest, at 9%." "The failure rate of the public GNU utilities was the lowest in our study, at only 7%.

    Further, the number of coders producing what will be a publically-sold software package is *far* outnumbered by people doing custom in-house jobs. If you're using tools that are less prone to failure and allow you to combine them in new and useful ways, your chances of being asked to do more work and advancing your career tend to be better. :) In case you need this explained too, it means "you can feed your family working with and producing Free Software".

  • From xfstt's included FAQ:

    4.3 Why another free ttf font server?

    Xfstt was actually the first free truetype font server. It was written from scratch, the useful freetype library not being ready in early 1997.

    Perhaps you're thinking of xfsft?

  • So if it's the implementation, why can't a clean-room implementation escape patent restrictions? Real up, it's the idea (or at least the algorithm, which is much the same).

    Because a patent protects not just the implementation, but the idea itself. If all you want to do is protect programmers from having their implementations copied, just give them copyright protections and they can keep their source closed. What software patents do is to set up a minefield for coders. Every time he comes up with a clever way of doing something, he must look it up at the patent office, and make sure that no one has thought of it before. If someone has, then he can be effectively blackmailed into either paying outrageous fees or rewriting major sections of his software. And if he doesn't catch the patent in time, then he will release his product, and can then be ruined by a lawsuit.

    The basic problem is that "inventions" in the computer field are different from those in other fields. Algorithms get rediscovered and reimplemented dozens of times by different programmers working independently. We get paid to "invent" better ways of getting a given task done. And while an inventor in another field might become rich off a single invention, programmers discover dozens of new algorithms in the course of a given project. Therefore it simply is not reasonable to give out patents to such "discoveries."

    This is compounded by the lack of technical knowledge in the patent office. Most patent officials don't have a clue about our industry. Thus a clever lawyer can get a patent for a technique that any competent CS grad could tell you was common knowledge for years. That no one wrote about the technique is often simpy a result of the fact that it seemed too trivial to bother documenting. Yet if you know little about how programming works, it might seem to you that it is a new discovery. Thus unscrupulous folks can obtain patents for things that a talented high school student could dream up in an afternoon.

    That's why many programmers oppose software patents. Copyrights are sufficient to pretect against piracy. Patents simply make life miserable for coders, with no real benefits.
  • Just to clarify what I said - binary font files are distributed under a software licence (GPL, MS EULA, X, etc.), just like any other software. The actual art design of the font can't be copyrighted however.
  • While having a TrueType font rendering system sounds great and all, there don't appear to be any free TrueType fonts which are all that much better than their T1 counterparts.

    Good TrueType fonts are typically manually hinted. Also, each style of the font such as italic, bold, and bold italic are individual fonts instead of having the font renderer try to fake it.

    This results in a much cleaner, crisper font than what you get from using one of the many font creation programs out there.

    Unfortunately, the skill involved in creating manually hinted fonts doesn't come cheap and while individual fonts can't be patented, they can be copywrited.

    Microsoft has been somewhat generous and made a few commonly used typefaces available for limited distribution at no cost. I believe these include Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana and Courier, which is really all you need 99% of the time.

    The exception being menus and what not, these typically use a font specially created for small labels. I believe MS uses MS Sans Serif for this.


"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan