Sun is doing quite some work on GNOME and X these days. Their latest project is to create a font library for XFree86, named Stsf, that would replace Fontconfig and Xft2. But the big question is: Does the world need yet another X font library that would create more incompatibility and fragmentation? Update: Sun proposes a new direction for both X.org and XFree86, keep reading for more.One of the reasons behind the creation of this project (but not the only reason) is the fact that XFT2 requires the XRender XFree86 extension in order to run accelerated, while Sun Solaris’ proprietary X11 and other non-XFree86 X11 implementations do not support this extension by default. So Sun got hard at work to create a new font library that would offer nice AA fonts on Java, Star/OpenOffice.org and Gnome/GTK+ applications.
However, many Gnome and GTK+ developers (and we would imagine KDE devs as well. Sun did not invite KDE to any talks when obviously that would be for the best interest of the Unix community to include them in a discussion that shapes the future of technologies that are directly involved in) are not happy with these new developments, as it would re-invent the wheel for one more time, slowing down the race to the desktop market and losing precious time. Applications would have to be modified in order to take advantage of STSF, and while there is a “wrapper/bridge” for fontconfig/xft2 apps, by using this bridge you gain nothing of STSF’s extra abilities.
“We’ve just finished spending two years moving millions of lines of code *that Sun has just shipped* over to fontconfig/Xft/Pango. Do we want to do that again?” Havoc Pennington of Gnome and Red Hat said.
Sun published a PDF on their Stsf site, comparing side by side xft2 and STSF.
“It is sometimes incorrect, often misleading, and shows a very superficial understanding of Xft. In summary, I think this paper should be removed from the authors’ site and significantly improved before it is published again” Juliusz Chroboczek wrote, the creator of Xfsft, an older font library or X.
“The document is missing the point that fontconfig/Xft2 are already widely deployed for a year or so, and STSF is still in part not implemented. This means the two technologies are not on a level playing field. For STSF to be a good idea, you have to not only show that it is better in some absolute sense, but also that
it is better enough to deprecate fontconfig/Xft2 only a year after deploying them and redo massive amounts of work. You also still have to show the server-side stuff working with good performance and
real-life significant memory savings.” Havoc Pennington replied later on a very interesting and constructive email to the list.
You can follow the discussion in the XFree Forum mailing list.
Update: Sun proposes a new direction for both X.org and XFree86 and asks for discussion upon these new points. Excert from “X.org & XFree86 relationship”:
“X.org provides funding and resources as it sees fit for activites to maintain the XFree86 software. This includes, but is not limited to, development of new features, documentation of existing interfaces, testing and maintenance activities.
Upon the release of X11R6.7, XFree86 shall integrate the X11R6.7 code into their code management system as the base of the “X.org Standards Sample Implementation” (SSI) branch.”
Havoc Pennington replied to this.