[tex-live] urw35 base fonts on CTAN and TL

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Mon Dec 18 01:14:44 CET 2017

On 2017-12-17 at 12:06:30 +0100, texlive at schoepfer.info wrote:

 > I'm confused, you mean e.g this
 > https://packages.debian.org/stretch/gsfonts ?

Sorry for the confusion.  It's confusing indeed.  I actually meant the
font package offered by Artifex and formerly by Aladdin.  But when I
tried to download the package again, I found a statement on their

  "The latest font set is included with the Ghostscript package."

I also see now that the built-in fonts have Cyrillic glyphs too.  It
seems that current versions provide the same set of fonts regardless
of whether they are compiled into the binary or not.  Sounds good at a
first glance but unfortunately the .afm files are missing.  They are
not used by Ghostscript itself but are needed by programs which create
PostScript files.  Kerning information is only available in .afm files
and not in the actual fonts (.pfa or .pfb).  TeX's .tfm files are also
derived from .afm files.

Admittedly I wasn't aware of the Debian package.  It seems that it's
derived from the font-package formerly provided by Artifex/Aladdin.
It contains the .afm files at least but I didn't investigate any

The fonts shipped with Ghostscript now are lacking /commaaccent.  I'm
quite sure that it's not intended and should be reported.

 > > The problem is that all three fonts are incompatible but have the same
 > > /FontName.
 > [...]
 > > Nothing can be done in TeX Live in order to solve this problem.
 > > Every font can be supported if the necessary files are available
 > > but there is absolutely no way to support different fonts with
 > > the same name.
 > If it's true that the github-artifex base35 fonts only misses one
 > glyph per font, Would it be possible to make the texlive psnfss
 > package work with this fonts?

Adapting psnfss means to break *all* existing documents using
/commaaccent.  At the moment documents are only broken when the
modified fonts are used.

 > Just to know if i got it right: If it can be done in texlive, would
 > this base35 problem be solved, if all distributions would "reset",
 > and start over to only use the newest base35 realease?

No, they have to use the original, unmodified URW fonts.  It's not
only sufficient that all glyphs supported by psnfss exist in a font,
the opposite is also problematic: If you create a PostScript file with
an external tool and use glyphs which are not supported by nfss, these
files look ok with a Ghostscript viewer but cannot be included in TeX

The psnfss package is maintained by Walter Schmidt.  He deliberately
based it on the original URW fonts because the Type 1 specification
doesn't allow modifications without changing /FontName.  And as you
can see now, anything except the original fonts is a moving target.
The psnfss package is immutable for a good reason.

Please note that in the TeX world we need absolute reliability and
stability.  I was able to compile my diploma thesis after a quarter
century with LaTeX2e though there was only LaTeX-2.09 at that time and
there was no need to touch any file.  This is what TeX users expect.  
We cannot adapt TeX packages to moving targets.  That would break
zillions of existing documents.

Thus I recommend that Linux distributors provide a separate font
package containing the original URW fonts.  I'm not aware of any other
reasonable solution.


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de

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