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07/08 — 2019
9.99 cm   1.0 min

Bye Bye BDFs

Glyph Bitmap Distribution Format is no more, as the creators of Pango, one of the most widely used text rendering libraries, announced their plans for Pango 1.44.

Until recently, Pango used FreeType to draw fonts. They will be moving over to Harfbuzz, an evolution of FreeType.


In short, FreeType was hard to work with. It required complex logic, and provided no advantage over Harfbuzz (other than being able to fetch opentype metrics with ease).

Upgrading to Pango v1.44 will break your GTK applications (if you use a bdf/pcf bitmap font). Harfbuzz does support bitmap-only OpenType fonts, otbs. Convert your existing fonts over to otbs using FontForge. It is to be noted that applications such as xterm and rxvt use xft (X FreeType) to render fonts, and will remain unaffected by the update.

Both scientifica and curie will soon ship with bitmap-only OpenType font formats.


I'm Akshay, programmer and pixel-artist.

I write open-source stuff to pass time. I also design fonts: scientifica, curie.

Send me a mail at [email protected] or a message at [email protected].

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