Tag : dejavu

Ubuntu Font Beta and Greek

Update: All open bugs for this font at https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntufontbetatesting/+bugs File your bug. Currently there bugs relating to Greek, 1. Letter γ ((U03B3) has an untypical style 2.  In letters with YPOGEGRAMMENI, YPOGEGRAMMENI is expected to be under not on the right and 3. Many Greek small letters have untypical style

Here we see some samples of Greek with Ubuntu Font Beta.

Ubuntu Font supports both Greek and Greek Polytonic.

In the following we compare between DejaVu Sans (currently the default font in Ubuntu) and the proposed Ubuntu Font Beta.

Screenshot Waterfall DejaVuSans

This is DejaVu Sans, showing the Greek Unicode Block. This means, modern Greek and Coptic.

Screenshot Waterfall UbuntuBeta Greek

This is Ubuntu Font Beta, showing the Greek Unicode Block. Coptic is not covered as it was not part of the requirements for this version of the font (actually Coptic currently uses a separate new Unicode Block so the Coptic here are too low of a priority).

Screenshot-Waterfall DejaVu Polytonic

This is DejaVu Sans showing the Greek Polytonic Unicode Block coverage. We show the second part of the Unicode Block which has the most exotic characters with up to three accents.

Screenshot Waterfall UbuntuFont Beta Polytonic

Same thing with Ubuntu Font Beta.

Note that those characters that appear as empty boxes are characters that either were not designed by the font designers, or are reserved characters that have not been defined yet.

Antigoni text in DejaVu Sans and Ubuntu Font Beta (PDF, 12pt)

Antigoni text in DejaVu Sans and Ubuntu Font Beta (PDF, 10pt)

If there are things to be fixed, this is the time to do them. Post a comment and we can take if further.

Traditionally, the letters γ and ν tend to have a unique form. In this case, in Ubuntu Font Beta, γ looks different to what a Greek user is accustomed to. I attach an SVG file of γ; if you have suggestions for enhancement, please use Inkscape, this gamma_UbuntuBeta-Regular file and make your suggestion!

(see top of post for link to bug reports)

How to easily modify a program in Ubuntu (updated)?

Some time ago we talked about how to modify easily a program in Ubuntu. We gave as an example the modification of gucharmap; we got the deb source package, made the change, compiled, created new .deb files and installed them.

We go the same (well, similar) route here, by modifying the gtk+ library (!!!). The purpose of the modification is to allow us to type, by default, all sort of interesting Unicode characters, including ⓣⓗⓘⓢ , ᾅᾷ, ṩ, and many more.

The result of this exercise is to create replacement .deb packages for the gtk+ library that we are going to install in place of the system libraries. Because these new libraries will not be original Ubuntu packages, the update manager will be pestering us to rollback to the official gtk+ packages. This is actually good in case you want to switch back; you will have the enhanced functionality for as long as you postpone that update.

There is a chance we might screw up our system, so please make backups, or have a few drinks first and come back. I take no responsibility if something bad happens on your system. If you are having any second thoughts, do not follow the next steps; use the safer alternative procedure. You may try however this guide just for the kicks; up to the dpkg command below, no changes are being made to your system.

We use Ubuntu 7.10 here. This should work in other versions, though your mileage may vary.

The compilation procedure takes time (about 30 minutes) and space. Make sure you use a partition with >2GB of free space. We are not going to use up 2GB (a bit less than 1GB), but it’s nice not to fill up partitions.

We are going to use the generic instructions on how to recompile a debian package by ducea.

First of all, install the development packages,

sudo apt-get install devscripts build-essential

Next, we use the apt-get source command to get the source code of the GTK+ 2 library,

cd /home/ubuntu/bigpartition_over2GB/
apt-get source libgtk2.0-0

We then pull in any dependencies that GTK+ may require. They are normally about a dozen packages, but we do not have to worry for the details.

apt-get build-dep libgtk2.0-0

At this stage we need to touch up the source code of GTK+ before we go into the compilation phase. Visit the bug report #321896 – Synch gdkkeysyms.h/gtkimcontextsimple.c with X.org 6.9/7.0 and download the patch (look under the Attachment section). You should get a file named gtk-compose-update.patch. If you have a look at the patch, you will notice that it expects to find the source of gtk+ in a directory called gtk+. Making a link solves the problem,

ln -s libgtk2.0-0 gtk+

We then attempt to apply the patch (perform a dry run), just in case.

patch -p0 --dry-run < /tmp/gtk-compose-update.patch

If this does not show an error message, you can the command again without the –dry-run.

patch -p0 < /tmp/gtk-compose-update.patch

Finally, we are ready to build our fresh GTK+ library.

cd libgtk2.0-0
debuild -us -uc

This will take time to complete, so go and do some healthy cooking.

At the end of the compilation, if all went OK, you should have about a dozen .deb files created. These are one directory higher (do a “cd ..“). To install, use dpkg,

dpkg -i *.deb

If you have any other deb files in this directory, it’s good to move them away before running the command. If all went ok, the .deb files should install without a hitch.

The final step is to restart your system. To test the new support, see the last section at this post. Use Firefox and OpenOffice.org to type those Unicode characters.

If you managed to wade through all these steps, I would appreciate it if you could post a comment.

Good luck!

Testing the updated IM support in GTK+

In Improving input method support in GTK+-based apps, we talked about some work to update the list of compose sequences that GTK+ knows to the latest version that comes from Xorg. From 691 compose sequences, we now support over 5000.

The patch has landed in GTK+ (trunk), and here are instructions for testing.

  1. If you have not used jhbuild before, read the jhbuild instructions and install it.
  2. Add the following to your ~/.jhbuildrc file
    branches['gtk+'] = None    # Makes sure you build from the trunk of GTK+
  3. Install gtk+ using the command (see the comment of James on this post on how to avoid Step 5 below)
    jhbuild build gtk+
  4. About 40 minutes later, and about 700MB of space (~600MB for source, ~100MB for installation of files) consumed, you should get a working copy of GTK+ 2.12.
  5. You can use this compiled version of GTK+ by running
    jhbuild shell

    This should give you a new shell, and whatever you run from here will use our fresh GTK+. Try running “gedit”. You will notice that the theme is different; it uses the default theme due to the special GTK+. This shell has set special environment variables so that program that run will use the fresh GTK+. The rest of the libraries come from our distribution.

  6. If you try to type compose sequences, you will notice no improvement. This is because at the moment jhbuild builds the branch 2.12 of GTK+ and not trunk. We need to download GTK+ from trunk and rebuild.
    cd ~/checkout/gnome2/
    mv gtk+ gtk+-branch-2.12
    svn co svn://svn.gnome.org/svn/gtk+/trunk gtk+
    jhbuild build --no-network gtk+
  7. Perform Step 4 and get gedit running.

How to test?

  • Setup a keyboard layout that supports a good variety of dead keys. My preference is GBr (United Kingdom). Here, AltGr+[];’#/ and AltGr+{}:@~? produce different dead keys. You press one of these combinations and then you press a letter. If such a combination exists, then it gets printed. For example, the old GTK+ produces öõóôòx åōőxxx. The new GTK+ produces öõóôòọ åōőǒŏȯ (12 dead keys).
  • Setup Greek, Polytonic (Ancient Greek). The dead keys are [];’ {}:@ AltGr+[] (10 dead keys). Produce characters such as ᾅᾂᾷῗὕὒᾥᾢῷ.
  • Try compose sequences as described from the upstream file at XOrg. For example,
    ComposeKey+(   1 0 )  produces ⑩. Try the same for 0-20, a-zA-Z.
  • Other miscellaneous, Ṩǟấẫǡ (using GBr layout)

The next step would be to parse the list of compose sequences and produce a documentation file.

FOSDEM ’08, summary and comments

I attended FOSDEM ’08 which took place on the 23rd and 24th of February in Brussels.

Compared to other events, FOSDEM is a big event with over 4000 (?) participants and over 200 lectures (from lightning talks to keynotes). It occupied three buildings at a local university. Many sessions were taking place at the same time and you had to switch from one room to another. What follows is what I remember from the talks. Remember, people recollect <8% of the material they hear in a talk.

The first keynote was by Robin Rowe and Gabrielle Pantera, on using Linux in the motion picture industry. They showed a huge list of movies that were created using Linux farms. The first big item in the list was the movie Titanic (1997). The list stopped at around 2005 and the reason was that since then any significant movie that employs digital editing or 3D animation is created on Linux systems. They showed trailers from popular movies and explained how technology advanced to create realistic scenes. Part of being realistic, a generated scene may need to be blurred so that it does not look too crisp.

Next, Robert Watson gave a keynote on FreeBSD and the development community. He explained lots of things from the community that someone who is not using the distribution does not know about. FreeBSD apparently has a close-knit community, with people having specific roles. To become a developer, you go through a structured mentoring process which is great. I did not see such structured approach described in other open-source projects.

Pieter Hintjens, the former president of the FFII, talked about software patents. Software patents are bad because they describe ideas and not some concrete invention. This has been the view so that the target of the FFII effort fits on software patents. However, Pieter thinks that patents in general are bad, and it would be good to push this idea.

CMake is a build system, similar to what one gets with automake/autoconf/makefile. I have not seen this project before, and from what I saw, they look quite ambitious. Apparently it is very easy to get your compilation results on the web when you use CMake. In order to make their project more visible, they should make effort on migration of existing projects to using CMake. I did not see yet a major open-source package being developed with CMake, apart from CMake itself.

Richard Hughes talked about PackageKit, a layer that removes the complexity of packaging systems. You have GNOME and your distribution is either Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora or something else. PackageKit allows to have a common interface, and simplifies the workflow of managing the installation of packages and the updates.

In the Virtualisation tracks, two talks were really amazing. Xen and VirtualBox. Virtualisation is hot property and both companies were bought recently by Citrix and Sun Microsystems respectively. Xen is a Type 1 (native, bare metal) hypervisor while VirtualBox is a Type 2 (hosted) hypervisor. You would typically use Xen if you want to supply different services on a fast server. VirtualBox is amazingly good when you want to have a desktop running on your computer.

Ian Pratt (Xen) explained well the advantages of using a hypervisor, going into many details. For example, if you have a service that is single-threaded, then it makes sense to use Xen and install it on a dual-core system. Then, you can install some other services on the same system, increasing the utilisation of your investment.

Achim Hasenmueller gave an amazing talk. He started with a joke; I have recently been demoted. From CEO to head of virtualisation department (name?) at Sun Microsystems. He walked through the audience on the steps of his company. The first virtualisation product of his company was sold to Connectix, which then was sold to Microsoft as VirtualPC. Around 2005, he started a new company, Innotek and the product VirtualBox. The first customers were government agencies in Germany and only recently (2007) they started selling to end-users.

Virtualisation is quite complex, and it becomes more complex if your offering is cross platform. They manage the complexity by making VirtualBox modular.

VirtualBox comes in two versions; an open-source version and a binary edition. The difference is that with the binary edition you get USB support and you can use RDP to access the host. If you installed VirtualBox from the repository of your distribution, there is no USB support. He did not commit whether the USB/RDP support would make it to the open-source version, though it might happen since Sun Microsystems bought the company. I think that if enough people request it, then it might happen.

VirtualBox uses QT 3.3 as the cross platform toolkit, and there is a plan to migrate to QT 4.0. GTK+ was considered, though it was not chosen because it does not provide yet good support in Win32 (applications do not look very native on Windows). wxWidgets were considered as well, but also rejected. Apparently, moving from QT 3.3 to QT 4.0 is a lot of effort.

Zeeshan Ali demonstrated GUPnP, a library that allows applications to use the UPnP (Universal Plug n Play) protocol. This protocol is used when your computer tells your ADSL model to open a port so that an external computer can communicate directly with you (bypassing firewall/NAT). UPnP can also be used to access the content of your media station. The gupnp library comes with two interesting tools; gupnp-universal-cp and gupnp-network-light. The first is a browser of UPnP devices; it can show you what devices are available, what functionality they export, and you can control said devices. For example, you can use GUPnP to open a port on your router; when someone connects from the Internet to port 22 on your modem, he is redirected to your server, at port 22.

You can also use the same tool to figure out what port mapping took place already on your modem.

The demo with the network light is that you run the browser on one computer and the network light on another, both on the local LAN (this thing works only on the local LAN). Then, you can use the browser to switch on/off the light using the UPnP protocol.

Dimitris Glezos gave a talk on transifex, the translation management framework that is currently used in Fedora. Translating software is a tedious task, and currently translators spent time on management tasks that have little to do with translation. We see several people dropping from translations due to this. Transifex is an evolving platform to make the work of the translator easier.

Dimitris talked about a command-line version of transifex coming out soon. Apparently, you can use this tool to grab the Greek translation of package gedit, branch HEAD. Do the translation and upload back the file.

What I would like to see here is a tool that you can instruct it to grab all PO files from a collection of projects (such as GNOME 2.22, UI Translations), and then you translate with your scripts/tools/etc. Then, you can use transifex to upload all those files using your SVN account.

The workflow would be something like

$ tfx --project=gnome-2.22 --collection=gnome-desktop --action=get
Reading from http://svn.gnome.org/svn/damned-lies/trunk/releases.xml.in... done.
Getting alacarte... done.
Getting bug-buddy... done.
Completed in 4:11s.
$ _

Now we translate any of the files we downloaded, and we push back upstream (of course, only those files that were changed).

$ tfx --project=gnome-2.22 --collection=gnome-desktop --user=simos --action=send
 Reading local files...
Found 6 changed files.
Uploading alacarte... done.
Completed uploading translation files to gnome-2.22.
$ _

Berend Cornelius talked about creating OpenOffice.org Wizards. You get such wizards when you click on File/Wizards…, and you can use them to fill in entries in a template document (such as your name, address, etc in a letter), or use to install the spellchecker files. Actually, one of the most common uses is to get those spellchecker files installed.

A wizard is actually an OpenOffice.org extension; once you write it and install it (Tools/Extensions…), you can have it appear as a button on a toolbar or a menu item among other menus.

You write wizards in C++, and one would normally work on an existing wizard as base for new ones.

When people type in a word-processor, they typically abuse it (that’s my statement, not Berend’s) by omitting the use of styles and formatting. This makes documents difficult to maintain. Having a wizard teach a new user how to write a structured document would be a good idea.

Perry Ismangil talked about pjsip, the portable open-source SIP and media stack. This means that you can have Internet telephony on different devices. Considering that Internet Telephony is a commodity, this is very cool. He demonstrated pjsip running two small devices, a Nintendo DS and an iPhone. Apparently pjsip can go on your OpenWRT router as well, giving you many more exciting opportunities.

Clutter is a library to create fast animations and other effects on the GNOME desktop. It uses hardware acceleration to make up for the speed. You don’t need to learn OpenGL stuff; Clutter is there to provide the glue.

Gutsy has Clutter 0.4.0 in the repositories and the latest version is 0.6.0. To try out, you need at least the clutter tarball from the Clutter website. To start programming for your desktop, you need to try some of the bindings packages.

I had the chance to spend time with the DejaVu guys (Hi Denis, Ben!). Also met up with Alexios, Dimitris x2, Serafeim, Markos and others from the Greek mission.

Overall, FOSDEM is a cool event. In two days there is so much material and interesting talks. It’s a recommended technical event.

Keyboard layout for combining diacritics

Typically, if you want to type characters with accents, such as á, ë, ś, you need to configure a suitable keyboard layout that includes compose sequences for those characters. The produced characters are what we call as precomposed characters; which were included in the early stages of Unicode. Nowdays, the idea is that you do not need to define á as a distinct character because it can be represented as a and ´, where the latter is a combining diacritic.

When put together a character and a combining diacritic, they fuse together, producing a seemingly single character. á is a precomposed (really one character), while á is letter a and the combining diacritic called acute (two characters). You can type the latter á by

  1. Type a
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+u, then type 301, then press space bar.

Western languages do not really require combining marks, so the existing keyboard layouts do not use them. Other scripts, such as the Congolese keyboard layout (based on Latin) make good use of them.

Gedit, pango and combining diacritics

This is gedit showing off pango and DejaVu fonts (default font in major distributions).

Line 3 is a bit of an extreme, showing a sandwich of combining diacritics.

Line 4 shows the base character a with the combining diacritics from the Unicode range 0x300 to 0x315.

Both lines 3 and 4 were produced easily with a modified keyboard layout, which is show below.

Line 5 is just me being silly. You can have combining diacritics that enclose your base character.

$ cat  /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/combining
partial alphanumeric_keys alternate_group
xkb_symbols "combining" {

    name[Group1] = "Combining diacritics";

    key.type[Group1] = "FOUR_LEVEL";

    key <AD11> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000300, 0x1000301 ] }; // à   á
    key <AD12> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000302, 0x1000303 ] }; // â   ã

    key <AC10> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000304, 0x1000305 ] }; // ā   a̅
    key <AC11> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000306, 0x1000307 ] }; // ă   ȧ
    key <BKSL> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000308, 0x1000309 ] }; // ä    ả

    key <AB08> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000310, 0x1000311 ] }; // a̐     ȃ
    key <AB09> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000312, 0x1000313 ] }; // a̒     a̓
    key <AB10> { [ NoSymbol, NoSymbol, 0x1000314, 0x1000315 ] }; // a̔     a̕
$ diff -u /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/us.ORIGINAL /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/us
--- /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/us.ORIGINAL      2008-02-20 11:11:13.000000000 +0000
+++ /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/us       2008-02-20 13:02:07.000000000 +0000
@@ -492,3 +492,12 @@
     name[Group1]= "U.S. English - Macintosh";

+partial alphanumeric_keys modifier_keys
+xkb_symbols "combining_us" {
+    include "us"
+    include "combining"
+    key.type[Group1] = "FOUR_LEVEL";
+    name[Group1] = "U.S. English - Combining";
$ diff -u /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/xorg.xml.ORIGINAL /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/xorg.xml
--- /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/xorg.xml.ORIGINAL  2008-02-20 11:27:00.000000000 +0000
+++ /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/xorg.xml   2008-02-20 11:27:48.000000000 +0000
@@ -3643,6 +3643,12 @@
             <description xml:lang="zh_TW">Macintosh</description>
+        <variant>
+          <configItem>
+            <name>combining_us</name>
+            <description>Combining</description>
+          </configItem>
+        </variant>
$ _

Then, you select this keyboard layout (U.S. English) and variant (Combining) in the Keyboard Indicator applet.

Unlike dead keys, with combining diacritics you first type the base character (such as a) and then any combining diacritics.
Our sample layout variant puts the diacritics in the physical keys for [];’#,./. For example,

  • a + AltGr+[ : à
  • a + AltGr+Shift+[ : á
  • a + AltGr+[ + AltGr+’ : ằ

If your language has needs that can be solved with combining diacritics, this is how they are solved.

It is quite important to create keyboard layouts for all languages, and actually make good use of them.

Typing squiggles and dots in GNOME and GTK+ applications

Garrett asks how to type squiggles and dots in GNOME; that is, how to type characters such as á à ä ã â ą ȩ ę ő ǰ ǩ ǒ ġ ṅ ȯ ṁ ė.

There are several ways, and one can choose depending on how frequently they need to type them or how much time they need to invest learning.

① One option is to start the Character Map (Applications/Accessories/Character Map), pick the character, copy and paste it. This is good for rare characters and weird situations such as



The Unicode standard, apart from defining characters for languages, it also defines symbols, dingbats and all sort of things. If your distribution is based on the DejaVu fonts (such as Ubuntu), then you are probably covered for many of these symbols. If you do not have a suitable font, or you use Windows, you will be wondering what the hell I am talking about.

② Another option is to use the Character Palette applet which shows an applet on the panel with a configurable small repertoire of characters such as áàéíñó½©ث€. You select one of the characters with the mouse, and wherever you middle-click, this character is typed. This is an improvement over ①, and good when you want to type often rare characters. It is not convenient to type characters found normally on a keyboard layout.

③ To type characters normally found in a specific language(s), it is good to setup a suitable keyboard layout. For this, it is good to add the Keyboard Indicator applet; right click on the panel, click Add to panel… and choose the Keyboard Indicator from the Utilities section. The US English keyboard layout (Default variant) does not provide any interesting characters apart from those shown printed on the keys of a US Keyboard.
Keyboard layout US Intl with dead keys
The US English International (with dead keys) variant might be a better option,

Keyboard layout GB

Or the United Kingdom layout.

You can get a similar image for your layout when you right-click on the Keyboard Indicator applet, then click Show Current Layout.

Each key in the images contain up to four letters. Starting from bottom-left and going clock-wise, these are the keys produced when

ⓐ you press the key

ⓑ you press the key with Shift (or Caps Lock)

ⓒ you press the key with AltGr and Shift (or Caps Lock)

ⓓ you press the key with AltGr

For example, with the UK keyboard layout, the key G produces g, G, Ŋ, ŋ.

If AltGr + Shift + letter does not work for you, see the FDO Bug #2871 Different results for shift-altgr and altgr-shift.

Using the appropriate keyboard layout is the way to go when writing text that require squiggles. You can either choose a layout with dead keys (meaning that some keys lose their normal functionality), or you can pick a layout that still allows you to have dead keys but are available when you press AltGr + key. For example, in the UK Keyboard layout – Default variant, AltGr + ; + a produces á, or AltGr+Shift+]+e produces ē.

OLPC showing the keyboard

Photo by titanas.

The OLPC uses those four level for the keyboard layout. You can see the all the variations printed on the keyboard. Click on the image, choose Large size for the details.

④ Another option to produce more characters on the keyboard is to enable the compose key, and use compose sequences. A compose sequence looks similar to what we described above (i.e. AltGr+Shift+]+e to ē) but the idea is that we use it for characters we want to be available across different keyboard layouts that you may have enabled.
Configuring the compose key
The compose key is very powerful functionality, thus it is not enabled by default, and lays hidden in the Layout Options tab. I prefer to set it to Menu, but every person has their own preference.

For example,

  • Compose key + – + a produces ã,
  • Compose key + < + c produces č
  • Compose key + 1 + s produces ¹ (Superscript on 1. Try to replace 1 with 2.)
  • Compose key + + + – procudes ±

Currently, GTK+ provides 640 such compose sequences involving the Compose key, and hopefully soon it will increase to over 3000.

The Compose key is known as Multi_key in the source code (Xorg, GTK+, etc).

The Compose key compose sequences offer the ability to define smart mnemonics on how to produce characters. It is much easier to type ComposeKey + 1 + s rather than remembering the codepoint value of ¹ (1 superscript). As with many things open-source, there are too many options, and with the Compose key there is the issue of which shall we pick as a sensible default, and how to make it prominent for those who might want to use it.

It appears to me that there should be more effort to promote the functionality that is provided with the standard keyboard layouts (choose a better keyboard layout, produce characters provided in the third and fourth levels, etc). In this respect, Compose key compose sequences should complement after the main discussion on keyboard layouts take place.

⑤ There is a last issue on switching keyboard layouts to cover in a separate post.

The OLPC and Greek

(oh, I am writing this through a lousy Net connection; thanks Engelados)

I tried out the latest OLPC image, specifically build 218, on Qemu and my aim was to get Greek support configured, if it was not there already.

The OLPC does not currently come with a good set of Greek fonts; you will need to install a set of fonts such as DejaVu or GFS Didot.
Installing means adding the font files in the directory /usr/share/fonts/. The current font configuration files in the OLPC favour Bitstream Vera, therefore you would need to move the bitstream subdirectory outside the fonts directory. DejaVu is based on Bitstream Vera and therefore you will not notice any change once you upgrade. Also, Fedora Core 6 and Ubuntu Linux are based on DejaVu. You need DejaVu, as Bitstream Vera does not currently support Greek. Both DejaVu and GFS Didot are free and open-source fonts.

Note: This screenshot shows DejaVu Sans, not GFS Didot. Sorry for the typo.
This is the OLPC running the cut-down version of the Abiword wordprocessor. Click on the image to view the full size.

This is the OLPC showing the same document above with GFS Didot. The font looks quite nice and similar to old greek textbooks. There is a small issue however, it does not have the character coverage of DejaVu. For example, notice that the Euro sign is missing from GFS Didot. Also, other glyphs such as fancy bullet characters are missing as well. Normally, the OLPC software should replace those missing characters with the correct characters from another font. Apparently something is wrong here and needs further investigation.

Writing support for the Greek language has to be configured separately in the OLPC. The case with other languages appears to be that the default layout is that of the language; apparently there is no need to switch between Brazilian Portuguese and English. For the Greek language it appears that it is good to be able to switch between Greek and English.

There are several places that you can add Greek writing support. The most common is in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Having gone through the configuration files, I think that /etc/X11/Xkbmap is also a good place and saves us from touching the core Xorg configuration file.

To write the full set of Greek letters, one needs to set the extended variant for the Greek layout, and also try to set the Compose key (for ano teleia). These things should be simplified…

I am not sure how the OLPC looks like (the only photos I saw where not focusing on the keyboard). Perhaps it would be useful to have a test machine at my disposal (hint, hint).
Jim Gettys wrote at his blog about the different languages that the first generation of the OLPC should support. Both Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili use the latin alphabet, therefore there are no significant issues with font support or writing support.

Greece will carry out a pilot with OLPC laptops next September.

Improving DejaVu Serif for Greek

Vangelis Karageorgos  sent an e-mail to the DejaVu Fonts mailing list regarding his work on the Greek glyphs for the DejaVu Serif face.

The original Greek glyphs from DejaVu Serif 2.12 look like

The edition of DejaVu Serif (Greek) by Vangelis  Karageorgos look like

Ben Laenen from the DejaVu project, an  gave the following comments/advice

> as Simos mentioned, Serif already has Greek since a very long
> time now.
> however, I've never been really too happy about it [current state of Greek in Serif --simos], and some
> improvements are still pending. I also must say that I like the style
> of Vangelis' glyphs, even though it has some things I've personally
> never been too keen about, like the ita and chi without descender. In
> the glyphs I designed I also removed the serifs on the descenders,
> but they seem to work in Vangelis' style.
> Now, before we start thinking about replacing the glyphs in DejaVu: I
> first want to see some feedback from the Greek users to see which
> style they would like more, and what would have to be changed before
> they would accept them.
> Also, if these new glyphs get included, the Greek Extended block
> should be altered as well (work I'm not very keen on doing myself
> since I know how boring that work is 🙂 Some other glyphs in the
> main Greek block may need changes as well.

Now, the question is, do you like the Greek edition of DejaVu Serif by Vangelis Karageorgos? If you do like it or you do not, please say so. It would also be good to specify what elements are better in the proposed version.

Διάθεση των γραμματοσειρών DejaVu 2.8

Πριν από λίγο ανακοινώθηκε η νέα έκδοση των γραμματοσειρών DejaVu 2.8.

Μεταξύ των βελτιώσεων είναι η προσθήκη hinting στη DejaVu Sans Bold για τα ελληνικά. Όπως ήταν μέχρι τώρα, είχαμε hinting μόνο στη DejaVu Sans.

Το hinting στη DejaVu Sans Bold έγινε από τον Ben Laenen ενώ για τη DejaVu Sans από τον Keenan Pepper.

Είναι πολύ σημαντικό που έχουμε τις DejaVu Sans (Book) και DejaVu Sans Bold με πληροφορίες hinting διότι αυτές οι δύο είναι οι πιο βασικές γραμματοσειρές στο γραφικό περιβάλλον στο Linux. Στους τίτλους των παραθύρων καθώς και στους τίτλους στο Evolution εμφανίζονται χαρακτήρες στη μορφή bold. Τώρα, οι ελληνόφωνοι χρήστες θα έχουν ένα ποιοτικό αποτέλεσμα σε ένα τυπικό γραφικό περιβάλλον. Δίχως πληροφορίες hinting στην ίδια τη γραμματοσειρά, οι ελληνικοί χαρακτήρες bold φαίνονται αχνοί σε οθόνες TFT (π.χ. φορητοί) όταν το μέγεθος της γραμματοσειράς είναι ~12pt ή μικρότερο.

Αυτό το θάμπωμα στους χαρακτήρες προέρχεται από το αυτόματο hinting που κάνει το σύστημα οπότε αν δεν μπορείτε να αναβαθμίσετε, δοκιμάστε να μειώσετε το επίπεδο αυτόματου hinting που κάνει το σύστημα από Σύστημα/Προτιμήσεις/Γραμματοσειρά/Λεπτομέρειες…/Hinting (από Πλήρες σε π.χ. Ελαφρύ).
Άλλη σημαντική προσθήκη στις γραμματοσειρές DejaVu είναι η προσθήκη περισσότερων dingbats στη DejaVu Sans Mono.

Στη Fedora Core 6 κατά πάσα πιθανότητα θα μπει η DejaVu LGC 2.8, που δεν περιλαμβάνει κάποιο μέρος από τους χαρακτήρες (αραβικά). LGC σημαίνει Latin, Greek και Cyrillic.

Re: gtk1.x και Ελληνικά

Ο Νίκος Νύκταρης έγραψε:
Μιας και από φαίνεται δεν μου κάθεται μια νέα έκδοση του  knoppel είπα να
ασχοληθώ με μερικά bugs που κάποια στιγμή είχα συναντήσει.
Παρακάτω είναι ένα από αυτά και αφορά τις εφαρμογές gtk1.x και τα Ελληνικά ,
θα ήθελα τη γνώμη σας πριν κάνω κανένα bugreport που είναι άχρηστο ή λάθος.
Το πρόβλημα λοιπόν είναι η εμφάνιση των ελληνικών στις εφαρμογές gtk1.x που
συναντώ εδώ και καιρό (από τότε που βγήκε το x.org) στο Debian. Κάνοντας πριν
μερικές μέρες εγκατάσταση του τελευταία έκδοση του etch τα Ελληνικά  στο xmms
εμφανίζονται όπως στο
The image “https://i0.wp.com/www.knoppel.org/gtkbug/xmms1.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Εδώ βλέπουμε ότι τα μεταφρασμένα μηνύματα της εφαρμογής είναι σε μορφή Unicode (για μονοτονικό είναι 2 byte ανά χαρακτήρα). Το XMMS για κάποιο λόγο δεν καταλαβαίνει ότι τα μηνύματα είναι σε μορφή UTF-8 με αποτέλεσμα να προσπαθεί να απεικονίσει κάθε byte ως χαρακτήρα από μια κωδικοποίηση 8-bit. Η επανάληψη του χαρακτήρα & υποδεικνύει το πρόβλημα αυτό.

Αυτό το πρόβλημα είχε αναφερθεί και για την ρώσικη γλώσσα καιρό πριν (debian
bug 330144) το οποίο και λύθηκε για αυτούς. (είναι το bug που έλεγα πριν από
καιρό στον simo)
Για αντίστοιχη λύση για τα Ελληνικά έχουμε δύο κομμάτια. Το ένα αφορά την
γραμματοσειρά που υπάρχει στο /etc/gtk/gtk.utf8 που προφανώς δεν υποστηρίζει
σωστά τα Ελληνικά
Ανοίγοντας το αρχείο και αλλάζοντας την γραμματοσειρά σε fixed το αποτέλεσμα
είναι το όπως εμφανίζεται στο


Τη διαφορά στο αποτέλεσμα μεταξύ των δύο παραπάνω στιγμιοτύπων οθόνης το λαμβάνεις με την απλή αλλαγή της γραμματοσειράς; Αυτό μπορεί να σημαίνει ότι η πρώτη γραμματοσειρά δεν είναι Unicode.

Από όσο γνωρίζω, η παραπάνω γραμματοσειρά είναι μια από τις Ασιατικές γραμματοσειρές.

Προφανώς δεν είναι ότι καλύτερο αισθητικά
Και επανέρχομαι στο bug 330144 και παρατηρώ ότι τα δικά μας αρχεία
στο /usr/share/X11/locale/el_GR.UTF-8 υπάρχουν μεν αλλά  είναι κενά. και από
φαίνεται στο locale.dir έτσι και αλλιώς δεν χρησιμοποιούνται.
Τα δημιούργησα λοιπόν και πρόσθεσα τις δύο κωδικοποιήσεις iso8859-7 και cp1253
που δεν υπάρχουν στο αντίστοιχο Αγγλικό αρχείο. Άλλαξα το locale.dir να
χρησιμοποιεί τα νέα αρχεία το αποτέλεσμα είναι όπως εμφανίζεται στο

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.knoppel.org/gtkbug/xmms3.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Να σημειώσω ότι έτσι και αλλιώς το αρχείο /etc/gtk/gtk.utf-8 πρέπει να
αλλαχτεί διαφορετικά το αποτέλεσμα είναι όπως το


Αυτό είναι πολύ παράξενο. Για να δείξει εκτεταμένους λατινικούς χαρακτήρες, η κωδικοποίηση της μετάφρασης του XMMS πρέπει να είναι 8-bit ή γίνονται παράξενες έμμεσες μετατροπές στην κωδικοποίηση. Μπορείς να επιβεβαιώσεις ότι η κωδικοποίηση της μετάφρασης του XMMS είναι UTF-8 και ότι η δήλωση στη κεφαλίδα είναι όντως UTF-8;

Προφανώς το αποτέλεσμα αισθητικά είναι πολύ καλύτερο. Το θέμα είναι είναι και
τεχνικά σωστό? Γιατί υπάρχουν τα αρχεία στο el_GR.UTF-8 και είναι κενά? Το
πρόβλημα αυτό υπάρχει και στις άλλες διανομές?
Ο κατάλογος el_GR.UTF-8 δεν χρειάζεται διότι αρκεί ο κατάλογος en_US.UTF-8. Η κωδικοποίηση είναι κοινή, UTF-8.
Για 8-bit ελληνικά (iso-8859-7) χρειάζεται τέτοιος κατάλογος που φυσικά είναι διαθέσιμος.
Παρακάτω ακολουθεί ένα link με τα αλλαγμένα αρχεία για όποιον θέλει να ελέγξει
τις αλλαγές ή/και να τις δοκιμάσει.


Προσωπικά προτιμώ εφαρμογές που χρησιμοποιούν την κωδικοποίηση UTF-8 και άλλες επιλογές προσθέτουν πολυπλοκότητα που δεν έχουμε ανάγκη. Αν έχεις τη δυνατότητα να αλλάξεις την εφαρμογή XMMS σε μια από τις νεώτερες εκδόσεις που βασίζονται στο GTK2+, είναι η καλύτερη λύση.

Ακόμα, είναι καλό να αλλάξεις την βασική γραμματοσειρά συστήματος σε DejaVu (Dejavu Sans) διότι υποστηρίζει ελληνικά και είναι hinted.

Επιστροφή από GUADEC 2006

Σήμερα το πρωί επέστρεψα από το συνέδριο GNOME User and Developer European Conference (GUADEC).

Το συνέδριο ήταν μια πολύ καλή ευκαιρία για να συναντηθούν τα άτομα που εργάζονται στο ίδιο το γραφικό περιβάλλον GNOME και αλλά σημαντικά έργα όπως το Xorg.

Οι πρώτες δύο μέρες ήταν για warm up και υπήρχαν θέματα γενικά για το ελεύθερο λογισμικό. Υπήρξαν αναφορές για τοπικοποίηση ελεύθερου λογισμικού όπως OOo και Mozilla. Ο οργανισμός SIL International έκανε επίδειξη την δουλειά που κάνει με τη βιβλιοθήκη graphite, που επιτρέπει την απεικόνιση περίπλοκων γραφών (ινδικά, κτλ) καθώς και τη γραφή με τη χρήση combining marks. Για το τελευταίο, όταν π.χ. κάποιος γράφει ελληνικά μπορεί να χρησιμοποιήσει είτε χαρακτήρες precomposed (με τα σημάδια ήδη επάνω τους) είτε τους χαρακτήρες της αλφαβήτου με τα combining marks. Δοκιμάστε να γράψετε σε GNOME

α + Ctr-Shift-301 παράγει ά

Δηλαδή υπάρχει διαφορά στην κωδικοποίηση των ά και ά καθώς και μικρή διαφορά στην εμφάνιση τους. Σε παραδείγματα με πιο περίπλοκα σημάδια, το πρόβλημα αυτό είναι ακόμα πιο φανερό.

Με τη μηχανή graphite είναι δυνατό να αποδοθούν οι κατάλληλες πληροφορίες στις γραμματοσειρές για να γίνει η σωστή απεικόνιση.
Ακόμα, η βιβλιοθήκη KMFL επιτρέπει το εύκολο γράψιμο σε άλλες γλώσσες. Σε Ubuntu είναι διαθέσιμη ως συστατικό του SCIM.

Ο Federico Mena Quintero έκανε μια βασική παρουσίαση για τα πρώτα βήματα στο προγραμματισμό και στη δημιουργία επιρραμμάτων (patches). Στόχος της παρουσίασης ήταν να κάνει την τοπική κοινότητα να ξεκινήσει τον προγραμματισμό.

Την πρώτη ημέρα του Guadec ο Jeff Waugh άνοιξε το συνέδριο με παρουσίαση των βασικών στόχων του έργου GNOME. Στο προσκήνιο είναι ο Dave Neary.
Go to the screencast

Ο Alex Graveley παρουσίασε το Gimmie, ενός προγράμματος που μπορεί να αντικαταστήσει το ταμπλώ στο GNOME. Υπάρχει τώρα και ελληνική μετάφραση του πακέτου.

Ο Miguel κάθεται στα δεξιά (πράσινο t-shirt).

Η Kathy Sierra έκανε μια παρουσίαση με τίτλο How to make passionate users. Η παρουσίαση αυτή ήταν από της καλύτερες του συνεδρίου διότι παρουσίασε προβλήματα στη σωστή προβολή και διάδοση ελεύθερου λογισμικού. Συγκεκριμένα, πρέπει να υπάρχει μια ροή κατά τη διάρκεια της εκμάθησης ενός νέου πακέτου λογισμικού ώστε να γίνει η μετατροπή ενός νέου χρήστη σε ένα παθιασμένο χρήστη.
O Behdad έκανε μια παρουσίαση για το pango και τις γραμματοσειρές. Υπάρχει ένα ζήτημα για το θέμα της σωστής υποστήριξης ελληνικών στη διανομή Fedora Core Linux. Αυτή τη στιγμή η πιο κατάλληλη ελεύθερη γραμματοσειρά είναι η DejaVu. Δεν έγινε αναφορά στο ζήτημα αυτό, σε αυτό το σημείο.
O Robert Love έκανε μια παρουσίαση για το NetworkManager, που επιτρέπει εφαρμογές να διατηρούν μια σωστή σύνδεση με το δίκτυο. Το πακέτο αυτό είναι ιδιαίτερο σημαντικό όταν υπάρχουν πολλαπλά access points και θέλετε να υπάρχει αυτόματη ρύθμιση δικτύου. Στην ίδια παρουσίαση, ο Robert αναφέρθηκε και το πακέτο FUSE που επιτρέπει στους χρήστες να γράφουν τα δικά τους συστήματα αρχείων σε κατάσταση χρήστη (userspace).
Ο Damien Sandras παρουσίασε το Ekiga, πρόγραμμα επικοινωνίας μέσω φωνής και βίντεο. Φαίνεται ότι υπάρχει ανάγκη για βοήθεια στο θέμα της προώθησης του λογισμικού (μάρκετινγκ).

Ο Alexander Larsson παρουσίασε το νέο API για εκτυπώσεις σε GTK+. Υπήρξε συζήτηση για κάποιες επιλογές με το ενδεχόμενο να υπάρχουν άλλες επιλογές. Πάντως έγινε αναφορά ότι για τώρα δεν είναι εύκολη η αντιγραφή και επικόλληση του κειμένου μέσα από το νέο API.

Έπειτα, ο Federico έκανε το μεσημεριανό keynote με τίτλο How Much Faster? περιγράφοντας τις στρατηγικές βελτιστοποίησης του λογισμικού ώστε να μην υπάρχει παράξενα κολλήματα κατά τη χρήση (ζητήματα ροής από την παρουσίαση της Kathy). Υπάρχει ένα σημαντικό θέμα στην ανάλυση πακέτων λογισμικού όπως Evolution και Firefox για τη βελτιστοποίηση της χρήσης μνήμης και της διαδραστικότητάς τους.
O Glynn Foster παρουσίασε το πακέτο DTrace που επιτρέπει τον έλεγχο της λειτουργίας λογισμικού (χρειάζεται αλλαγές στον πυρήνα). Το DTrace είναι διαθέσιμο σε Solaris και FreeBSD. Είναι αρκετά καλό να το χρησιμοποιήσει κάποιος για την κατανόηση των προβλημάτων μνήμης/ταχύτητας των πακέτων ελεύθερου λογισμικού.

Την επόμενη μέρα, ο Lluis Sanchez παρουσίασε το MonoDevelop και τα νεώτερά του χαρακτηριστικά. Το MonoDevelop επιτρέπει την εύκολη δημιουργία εφαρμογών σε Mono αλλά και για άλλες γλώσσες.

Ο Jim Gettys παρουσίασε το έργο OLPC και αναφέρθηκε στις πληροφορίες που μπορεί να βρει κάποιος και από το www.laptop.org. Έβγαλα φωτογραφίες με τις διαφάνειες και θα τις βάλω κάπου σύντομα.

Ο Lluis Villa έκλεισε το συνέδριο GUADEC με μια πολύ δυνατή παρουσίαση. Ο Lluis ήταν bugmaster στο bugzilla.gnome.org και έχει προσφέρει αρκετά. Τώρα ξεκινά πτυχίο για δικηγόρος με αποτέλεσμα να είναι εκτός της σκηνής για τα επόμενα 4 χρόνια. Χρησιμοποίησε το στοιχείο αυτό για να αναφερθεί στο 2010 και σε τι πιστεύει να έχει γίνει μέχρι τότε. Το μήνυμά του ήταν ότι GNOME is about people.
Οι επόμενες δύο μέρες ήταν της μορφής After Hours workshop.

Υπήρξε μια συζήτηση για το OLPC από τον Jim Gettys. Έγινε αναφορά στην τοπικοποίηση και στα τυχόν προβλήματα καθώς και στο ζήτημα της ανάγκης hinting στις γραμματοσειρές.

Ακόμα, έγινε μια συζήτηση για το θέμα των γραμματοσειρών στη διανομή Fedora. Όπως είναι τώρα, όταν κάποιος εγκαταστήσει ελληνικά, έχει ένα αποτέλεσμα που μοιάζει με αυτό το χάλι. Ο λόγος για τον οποίο δεν έχει μπει άμεσα η γραμματοσειρά DejaVu στη διανομή Fedora είναι διότι η γραμματοσειρά αυτή περιλαμβάνει αραβικούς χαρακτήρες και μπορεί εν δυνάμει να δημιουργήσει πρόβλημα στους χρήστες από αραβικές χώρες. Ωστόσο, το ίδιο ζήτημα το έχουμε στα ελληνικά, και η πραγματική λύση είναι η επέκταση του υποσυστήματος fontconfig για να επιτρέπει τη μη-χρήση χαρακτήρων σε συγκεκριμένες γραμματοσειρές μέσω του αρχείου ρυθμίσεων /etc/fonts/fonts.conf

Ο Keith Package δήλωσε ότι θα δεχτεί επίρραμμα (patch) για την προσθήκη της νέας λειτουργίας, που θα απενεργοποιεί μια και καλή περιοχές χαρακτήρως σε συγκεκριμένες γραμματοσειρές. Κάτι τέτοιο είναι καλό για τα ελληνικά. Από την πλευρά του, οι Nicholas και Jay (sun.com) ετοίμασαν ένα επίρραμμα που υλοποιεί κάτι παραπλήσιο αλλά επιτρέπει εκείνους τους κακούς χαρακτήρες να είναι χρησιμοποιήσιμοι με απευθείας επιλογή. Κάτι τέτοιο ίσως είναι πιο θεμιτό διότι για π.χ. το κοινό που γράφει CJK και θέλουν τα ελληνικά που υπάρχουν στις γραμματοσειρές τους.

Ο Behdad από την πλευρά του δήλωσε ότι θα δεχτεί την DejaVu LGC. Τώρα είμαστε στο σημείο να κλείσει το ζήτημα με την επιλογή μιας ή και των δύο επιλογών.

Έκανα μια παρουσίαση για το θέμα της γραφής στο GNOME και συγκεκριμένα ότι είναι θεμιτό (desirable) να υπάρχει η δυνατότητα να μπορούν οι χρήστες να γράφουν ακόμα περισσότερους χαρακτήρες που υποστηρίζει το Unicode και οι γραμματοσειρές.

Η επιστροφή ήταν θεαματική. Προλάβαμε το αεροπλάνο με περιθώριο ~10 λεπτά. Το μέρος (venue) ήταν πολύ όμορφο και υπήρξε παραλία αρκετά κοντά…

Ένας από τους προσκεκλημένους ήταν από την Μογγολία. Του δώρισαν ένα βιβλίο για το Mono (εκείνο το μπλε βιβλίο) και έβαλε και τον Miguel να το υπογράψει 🙂
Το επόμενο Guadec θα γίνει στο Birmingham, στο H.B. Όσοι είστε στην Αγγλία αξίζει να πάτε.

Can you read Coptic?

Coptic is the most recent phase of ancient Egyptian. It is the direct descendant of the ancient language written in Egyptian hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic scripts. The Coptic alphabet is a slightly modified form of the Greek alphabet, with some letters (which vary from dialect to dialect) deriving from demotic. As a living language of daily conversation, Coptic flourished from ca. 200 to 1100. The last record of its being spoken was during the 17th century. Coptic survives today as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Egyptian Arabic is the spoken and national language of Egypt today.

Source: Wikipedia on Coptic Language

Coptic, as used today, has signs of influence from the Greek language. If you speak Greek, you should be able to recognise every entry in the screenshot (it comes from the dictionary that is available from http://copticlang.bizhat.com/).

There is a Coptic Unicode block and there are at least three Unicode fonts available with Coptic glyphs.

I am not aware of a keyboard definition to write Unicode Coptic; Coptic uses several combining diacritical marks (accents) and appears to surpass even Ancient Greek/Polytonic in this respect. An easy way to create (easy to write with?) method would be to start from the Greek keyboard layout and replace the codepoints with the Coptic ones. For the 9 combining diacritical marks, three keys should be dedicated, accessible through 1) pressing as is, 2) pressing with shift, 3) pressing with Alt. To avoid using dead keys, there would be a requirement to type first the letter and then the diacritical mark.

In modern Greek we use the “;:” key (on the right of L) to produce the acute and the diaeresis (with Shift) accents. The second suitable key could be the ‘ ” key while the third the “/?” (debateable).

There are several efforts to convert non-Unicode fonts distributed by the Coptic Church. website. Moheb added the Coptic glyphs to the Freefonts. There is more work required to get them added by default to Linux distros. There is a discussion forum on Coptic.

Therefore, the most important task is to create a keyboard layout so that one can write in Unicode Coptic.

Then, existing (non-Unicode) text should be converted to Unicode Coptic so that there is material available. Moheb created support for this in iconv (glibc). There should be a bug report at http://sources.redhat.com/bugzilla/ under product glibc, component libc.

Source: Wikipedia (Coptic script)

There exist free Unicode fonts already to have the text displayed. The conversion of the Coptic Church fonts to Unicode would be beneficial as well. To have them included in Linux distros, the distribution license should be set to one of the FLOSS licenses. An option could be to add to the DejaVu fonts (allowed by the license) so that there is a general purpose open font that is easy to work with.

I, for one, would love to write Greek using a Coptic keyboard layout and a Coptic Unicode font. 🙂

Update: Screenshot that demonstrates how well Unicode Coptic fonts behave when combining marks are used.

Update #2: You can test the above on your system by opening this OpenDocument file using OpenOffice.org or any other OpenDocument-compatible application. OpenOffice.org was verified that it can show combining marks. Your mileage may vary, your comments will be appreciated.

Get Unicode fonts with Coptic coverage.