[XeTeX] wrong r+vocalic r ligature in FreeSerif font

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Thu Dec 18 09:28:27 CET 2014

Nobody is talking about responsibility or blame.  Actually, everyone is
extremely grateful for and appreciative of everything you have done and are
doing with FreeFont!

The 2012 version of the fonts is seriously broken for Devanagari users.
But it's co-installed with several other TeX Live packages, and causes a
lot of trouble for anyone doing Indian typesetting.  Over the last couple
of years we've seen this problem surfacing again and again with Indian
script users who think that XeTeX is broken.  Only some of these
disappointed and frustrated users actually get as far as reporting to this

You have fixed the Devanagari font problems (ICU>Harfbuzz), which is great,
and everyone is extremely grateful.  And your fixes are there in SVN.  But
that's not enough, because fetching and installing the 2014 Freefonts from
SVN still leaves the TeX Live problem.  One can't uninstall gnu-freefonts
from TeX Live without ripping out a lot of other dependent packages, and
the whole situation becomes very hard to manage, even for sophisticated
users.  Again, we've seen numerous complaints and reports here in the list
from users who unwittingly end up with multiple versions of gnu-freefonts
on their disks, and wonder why XeTeX is still behaving badly when they have
installed the SVN release of gnu-freefonts.

What Norbert has done, at my request, is to to provide an elegant temporary
solution relating to TeX Live for this problem for advanced users who are
comfortable using the SVN version of FreeFonts and understand that there
may be other difficulties in doing so, even if the Devanagari situation is
improved.  This is, in fact, to do with TeX Live, and not so much
gnu-freefonts itself.

What about this as a way forward?  On my blog, I'll put very loud warnings
that this TeX Live fix is about the SVN version of gnu-freefonts, that it's
not meant for production use, that users may encounter unintended
consequences, and that they are responsible for themselves.  I could even
say that this fix is deprecated.

As long as gnu-freefonts are packaged with TeX Live, forking the code would
help nobody and would add a fresh level of confusion for users.

There may even be a benefit: if a few more sophisticated TeX Live users
start using your SVN code, you may get some helpful feedback and bug
reports that you wouldn't otherwise have received.

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