Free Fonts Forever

Besides giving the world a great Linux, Ubuntu is now offering the world a new, free Web font family.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

When you think open source, chances are you think software. You may not know that there are open-source fonts as well. Today, Google and Ubuntu have released a new free, open font to the Web: the Ubuntu Font Family.

Web developers will be able to use Google Font API to select the Ubuntu fonts from the Google Font Directory. With these fonts embedded on the page, Web visitors will always see the text and fonts as intended. It doesn't matter what Web browser or operating system visitors are using, or even if the font is not installed on their PC, smartphone, or tablet, they'll see the fonts you've selected for them. The new Ubuntu Font Family debuted in Ubuntu 10.10 release and is also available for download from the Ubuntu Font Family site.

These fonts really are open. They were developed by Dalton Maag font foundry and are free to be shared, sold, bundled and built upon. This release includes Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek support, and future versions will include support for Hebrew and Arabic.

In a statement, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, said: "Our focus on design and usability in Ubuntu led us to create a font which is at once beautiful and readable. We're delighted to share the Ubuntu Font Family with web designers around the world who want their websites to be stylish and readable in as many languages and browsers as possible. The publication of the Ubuntu font on the global Google Font Directory is an appropriate treat for the festive season, and we wish all those who contribute to, and enjoy the benefits of, free software and open content a very happy and healthy solstice and New Year."

To add the Ubuntu Font Family to your pages go to the Google Font Directory Select "Ubuntu" and insert the two lines of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) code provided as instructed into your page The full font source code can be downloaded from the Ubuntu font page.

As neat as this is for Ubuntu and font fans, I should note that Red Hat also has a set of open-source fonts: Liberation Fonts. These Red Hat fonts are meant more for desktop use and are usually used in place of common Windows fonts. There are three sets of Liberation Fonts: Sans (a substitute for Arial, Albany, Helvetica, Nimbus Sans L, and Bitstream Vera Sans), Serif (a substitute for Times New Roman, Thorndale, Nimbus Roman, and Bitstream Vera Serif) and Mono (a substitute for Courier New, Cumberland, Courier, Nimbus Mono L, and Bitstream Vera Sans Mono). I use Liberation Serif myself all the time on OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

In addition, the Google Font Directory also includes numerous other open-source fonts. If you're the kind of person who likes to play with fonts, support open-source, and have absolute control over how your Web pages look, the Google Font Directory is a great resource. Just, please, please, don't use Comic Sans.

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