Saturday, June 10, 2023

Lohit vs Noto Indic fonts

Hi, we have been thinking about the default fonts for Indic (Indian) scripts in Fedora.

For many languages in Fedora we are already using Google's open-source Noto fonts (for most Western languages and also Arabic and CJK (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) and more, not least Emoji too. Also already for Gurmukhi (Punjabi) and Sinhala.

$ rpm -qa google-noto-*-fonts | wc -l

Noto fonts have the advantage that they are available in different faces ("Sans" and "Serif") and multiple weights (also as Variable Fonts (VF), which can save a lot of space). They also seem to be generally actively maintained.

So we would like feedback on how Indian Fedora users feel about using the Indic Noto fonts compared to Lohit fonts (which we haven't been able to maintain actively for some time now), given the above advantages.

Sudip Shil has prepared some comparison screenshots using his fonts-compare tool of Lohit vs Noto: see

To easily test Noto yourself, Sudip Shil has also prepared a Copr repo which contains the Lohit fonts rebuilt with lower priority: which needs to be enabled:

$ sudo dnf copr enable sshil/indic-fonts-test

Furthermore it is necessary to install the corresponding Noto VF fonts

$ sudo dnf install google-noto-sans-devanagari-vf-fonts google-noto-sans-bengali-vf-fonts google-noto-sans-gujarati-vf-fonts google-noto-sans-kannada-vf-fonts google-noto-sans-oriya-vf-fonts google-noto-sans-tamil-vf-fonts google-noto-sans-telugu-vf-fonts

Then run:

$ sudo dnf update lohit-*-fonts

Note: if you are on Fedora Rawhide you currently have to "dnf remove lohit-*-fonts" instead, since the Indic Noto fonts there have lower priority currently.

And now you should see Noto as the default for most Indic scripts:

$ for lang in as bho bn brx doi gu hi hne kn kok mai ml mni mr or pa sa sat ta te; do echo -en "$lang\t" ; fc-match :lang=$lang family; done

You may prefer to try this first in a test VM, or to shut down your important applications using Indic text first before changing the fonts on your system.

The instructions on Sudip's Copr repo also include the steps for undoing these changes.

Do let us know what you think of the Noto fonts compared to Lohit for Indic scripts.
If they look good we can consider switching those scripts to default to Noto.

Fedora & Red Hat i18n team

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