New release of the Ubuntu titling font

Here is a release candidate for the Ubuntu titling font. I've included the "source" FontLab (not open source, sorry) file along with the build script I use to author the OTF and TTF files. This version not only includes many more diacritics, but includes OpenType features such as small caps, small cap numerals as well as some alternate characters. I have also polished the spacing and added kerning, which was missing from previous versions.

I've also nudged some of the letter shapes to be a little more squarish. The rounded forms conform to the Ubuntu ideal of a human and approachable operating system, but in previous cuts some of the characters were starting to appear childish, where the logotype does not. The best example of this is the lower case 'a'.

[ Update: Due to all of the drama around licensing/trademarks and source code, I'm posting an update with a link to the LGPL in there somewhere (see if you can find it) and and updated trademark table specifically noting that Ubuntu is a trademark of Canonical. I also updated the build script to remove an erroneous include. ]

ubuntutitlefont_20080108.zip130.23 KB

Your work on this font in incredible!
Keep it up, please.

hello christian – very nice work indeed.

does making the sources available mean you are inviting other designers to work on this project with you? :-)

i would love to help creating light/black weights for this typeface, but i think i cannot do it unless you include a (free) license with the files. (?)

- gustavo.

As far as I'm concerned anyone can do anything they want with it. I haven't wasted too many brain cycles reading all the licenses for creative works, though I have looked at a lot of licenses for type, and I'm not sure if most of the Creative Commons licenses apply there, due to the fact the type designs aren't copyrightable in the U.S. Most font licenses look a lot more like software licenses, since the actual bytes can by copyrighted. If anyone has any recommendations let me know. I would be most comfortable with the most permissive license possible.

If you are interested in creating additional weights, try to not add or remove points, so that additional weights can be interpolated.

Thanks for all your efforts in extending this font and releasing the sources :)

Some recommendations for you about licensing fonts for collaborative design:

For Ubuntu-title, be aware that you inherit the copyright and licensing of upstream: currently LGPL2. (see clause 2c).

... be aware that you inherit the copyright and licensing of upstream: currently LGPL2

I assumed this was the assumption, but there seems to be some confusion here. What do I need to do to make it explicit that this font inherits the upstream license and trademark (even though it didn't necessarily inherit any of the specific point data)? Are there files that I should put into the zip? I'm a noob at open source contributions :)

I'm preparing a small essay about this issue; Gustavo has extended a GPL font published by another GNU/Linux distributor, Red Hat and their Liberation fonts, and ran into the very same questions about how to proceed within the terms of the license.

The first thing to do is check that all the build scripts you used to make the OTF font are included in the zip file along with the VFB data :-)

Very nice. I really love this font :)

Very nice !

But there is one problem: "O" (letter) and "0" (number) are nearly identical !
You (We) should had a stroke or a dot on the zero to make it different...

You also can dowload this one (tondo) on Dafont.


I would be nice if the actual licensing was clearly stated.

Thank you!

The first thing to do is check that all the build scripts you used to make the OTF font are included in the zip file along with the VFB data.

i don't think this is mandatory in this case, since the scripts were not derived from the original font.

i also don't think including build scripts should be mandatory in future cases: they are specific to each foundry's tools and workflow. in most cases they are not even necessary – font generation can be performed through the font editor's interface.

christian's script doesn't do anything complicated: it just builds accents, removes overlaps, decomposes composed glyphs, sets font names and generates fonts in .otf and .ttf formats. this can be done by anyone, in any font editor.

for those who don't have FontLab, here is christian's .vfb source in the .ufo format (which can be imported into FontForge).

I thought I'd throw the build script in there for anyone who was interested. As Gustavo says, it's not really necessary. If you are interested in using it, you can comment out the SetNames includes.

If any of the floss-heads don't like the FontLab files, they can write me a free font editor that isn't gross.

Gustavo has suggested in a comment on my blog and the Open Font Library list that it would be great to have a way for the Ubuntu community to tip you money for this great work. Could you set up a Paypal or Google Checkout or similar "tip jar" so we can do that? :-)

(I am not a lawyer and this is personal opinion, but I hope it makes sense for you :-)

As I understand him, Gustavo is saying that, in his opinion, in the general case, there is no obligation for font developers to publish the scripts that they use to develop a font when they publish that font as free software.

In this specific case though, the situation may be different, because the Ubuntu font is licensed to you under the GNU Lesser General Public License.

This means that you are free to make modifications, on the condition that if you redistribute your modified version, you include the "complete" source code - including scripts, even though they are not derived works from the original work. You must also include a copy of the license, and it is courteous to do this whatever the license is.

Although these requirements might seem strange at first, this is the most popular way of licensing free software - it aims to guarantee that everyone is working on a level playing field :-)

However, this may not be the case: you could have looked at the Ubuntu font and then opened a new file in your editor and authored a totally new work.

If you did that, and none of the data points in your font are from Canonical's font, you are totally free to decide whatever copyright license you will apply to the work when you distribute it to other people.

You said that you "would be most comfortable with the most permissive license possible" and that is the "Expat license."

This is a good choice for a free font software license. I personally believe that all our choices come with an ethical responsibility to do good. I believe that for fonts, this means using a copyright license that respects every user's freedom to share and modify them.

Of course, I respect your right to express views that are different from mine on this issue. I'm very happy and grateful that you've decided to publish your excellent work on this particular font as free software :-)

I do recommend reading about the Open Font License though, as famously used by Victor Gaultney in his "Gentium" font :-) It is very simple and permissive and I think you might like it.

However, since I'm not sure if some of the points in your font did come from the original Ubuntu font or not, and since you asked for an explanation, I'll now explain how I understand the LGPL works :-)

The Ubuntu font has a copyright holder, like all font software does, and the copyright holder is the company called Canonical. That company has licensed this font to the public under the GNU Lesser General Public License, either 2.1 or 3.0 or any later version.

Version 2 is not very long and it is written in unusually normal "everyday" language, because it was not written by a lawyer (yet it is legally valid) - and I suggest everyone take the time to print it out and read it :-)

Sections zero and four are relevant here:

  • (Section 0) "Source code" for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For a library, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the library.
  • (Section 4) You may copy and distribute the [work] [...] provided that you accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code.

If the font software you are distributing on this page is a "derived work" of the font software distributed by Canonical - that is, you started with their outlines and make changes to some glyphs and remade others from scratch - then you are obliged to either

  1. Distribute the "complete source code," and source code is defined to include "the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the library.", or
  2. Not distribute the work at all.

I hope you'll choose the first option :-)

Also, I'm aware that Canonical doesn't distribute their source code in the first place. I hope they will sort this out soon; I know the designer and he told me he used FontForge originally, so there is a SFD somewhere :-)

A secondary issue that you've raised is that you used FontLab to make your modifications. Although FontLab "VFB" files depend on FontLab which is proprietary software, that does not effect the obligation to publish these source code files.

However, because VFBs require other people to use only FontLab, it leaves out people using other font editors - free or otherwise. Using a "standard" source code format that is supported by many font editors would be ideal.

The "UFO" format from the Robofab project is a strong candidate for this. Although it needs a few tweaks to support OpenType tables for the general case, those tables aren't used in your lovely font as far as I know. If your next release can include the complete font as a UFO, instead of or alongside of the VFB files, that would be wonderful :-)

(Thanks to Gustavo for providing a UFO example of the current version; there is a discussion about this specific issue on the Open Font Library mailing list with Erik van Blokland (an author of UFO format specification) and George Williams (the primary author of FontForge) and in which you are most welcome to contribute :-)

If you have any specific questions about how to proceed, I'm happy to try answering them as best I can :-)


Latin Extended-A is wholly absent. Consequently, the font is unusable.

I understand that this is work in progress. Good luck with it, and think about Latin-A.

Cheers, YBK

The font looks great but some characters are mssing. You have added äöü for german but ß is missing :(


I would like to applaud your tremendous work on this otherwise clunky font. You have elevated it from the homebrew amateur-itus it suffered from to a truly useful series.

Thanks again, and please, keep the fonts rolling...

Am I missing something? I don't see a download link...

You are so right. I'm not sure where the link went. It's back :)

Your work is brilliant!
Will it be cyrillic writing of it?

Oooh, looks like spam above :(

The work you've done on this font is fantastic. It is 12 steps above the original. You really bring it into the realm of Intel's professionally design font.

Good job and keep up the good work!

The default appearance of the user interface in the current version is called Human and is characterized by shades of brown and orange.

I like what you've done with the font, but the lowercase y alternative (y.alt) urks me. Personally, I think that the descender should blend nicely with the right-stem rather than just being an awkward addition because now it looks kind of like a 'v' with a cedilla.

Also, Latin Extended-A support would be very nice to have!

This is my favorite font! Subtle and sleek. Thanks for this!

please consider taking a look at this:

the sources there are in .sfd Fontforge (open-source!), and as .svg Inkscape drawings as well.

would be awesome if all eforts would be joined into this project:

I would love to see a monospaced version of this font for coding purposes. Any chance of seeing one?

I'm very pleased. I will use it in my project on a display board. Thank you very much!

Personally I do not think they are that bad. Find the files you are looking for at the most comprehensive source for free-to-try files downloads on the Web

Hello over there,

I am trying to install the font ubuntutitle on my windows XP-system. When unzipping your file I foudn somewhwere a file with the ending .TTF. As an unexperienced user of Windows XP I copied this file into the directory C:/Windows/Fonts just were all TTF-files are.
But I got the errormessage saying that this file is corrupted or contains no fonts.

Is there any special procedure to use your font under Windows XP