Fonty Python

This application is a great help when you have many fonts installed. I mean, so many fonts that you graphic applications take hours to launch because they have to load them all. And having 1862 files in your .fonts directory is definitely not a convenient solution.

fontypython.jpg

Fonty Python lets you create groups of symlinks in your .fonts directory that point to fonts stored anywhere on your PC. This means three things:

  • You can store and organise your fonts the way you like it, in usable directories and subdirectories.
  • You can create useful and reusable “pogs”, i.e. groups of symlinks. For example, I created a pog named Type ornaments with some 12 ornament fonts.
  • You only load the fonts you need: you can easily install and uninstall the pogs as you need it. Fonty Python adds and removes the symlinks from your .fonts directory accordingly.

Fonty Python can also be used as a font preview and compare application, just like Gnome Specimen, but Specimen’s interface is simpler and more convenient so having both on your desktop is a good idea.

Font creation

Font Forge

FontForge is an ugly, full-featured application for font creation, a perfect example of good open-source software. It features everything you need to create a complete font for any alphabet, with hinting, kerning and ligature options. Who cares about eye-candy? Nothing should distract you when you’re working on such a serious thing as a font.

Fontforge.jpg

Gbdfed

What a sexy name. Gbdfed is a bitmap (i.e. pixel style) font editor, so that’s not the application you’ll use to digitalize your fabulous hand-writing but it can be very useful to design tiny but legible fonts, or fonts used in non-antialiased environments (such as a command prompt). Gbdfed can import many common font formats, including OTF and TTF and export as BDF and PSF2 Linux console fonts.

gbdfed.jpg

Inkscape

Inkscape is a great vector-based graphic editor featuring a powerful engine to vectorize bitmap image files. So you can easily scan you sketches, import them and convert them in Inkscape, then use the resulting SVG in FontForge,

Type setting

Scribus

Scribus is a powerful InDesign-style layout editor with good font-setting options. It’s quite straightforward and easy to use. Scribus’ real issue is its lack of compatibility with commercial file formats, but you can export your Scribus file to PDF.

Scribus.jpg

Installation

All these applications are available in the repositories, so you can install them using Synaptic or with these simple command lines (adapt for your Linux distrib):
sudo apt-get install gnome-specimen
sudo apt-get install fontypython
sudo apt-get install fontforge
sudo apt-get install gbdfed
sudo apt-get install inkscape
sudo apt-get install scribus

If you know other great tools for typography on Linux, please feel free to let me know in the comments. There I only mentioned the tools I have installed and tried, and this list is certainly not exhaustive.