“Letters and fonts have two characteristics: On the one hand they are basic elements of communication and fundamental to our culture, on the other hand they are cultural goods and an artistic work.
You are able to see just the first aspect, but when it comes to software you’ll see copyrights and patents even on the most elementary fonts. Therefore we want to give you a free alternative: This is why we founded the Libertine Open Fonts Project.”
Philipp H. Poll
„Hard to believe but true is the variety of Linux Libertine [...]“ „It resembles the Times and is qualitatively at least as good.“
„A typographically very felicitous and additionally free available Font is Linux Libertine – a font, which is well suitable as replacement for Times New Roman.“
„A little bit like the Times, but more beautiful. This is how one can fittingly describe Linux Libertine.“
We work on a versatile font family. It is designed to give you an alternative for fonts like T*mes New Roman. We’re creating free software and publish our fonts under terms of the GPL and OFL. Please have a look at the paragraph concerning the license.
It is our aim to support the many western languages and provide many special characters. Our fonts cover the codepages of Western Latin, Greek,
Cyrillic (with their specific enhancements), Hebrew, IPA and many more. Furthermore, typographical features such as ligatures, small capitals, different number styles, scientific symbols, etc. are implemented in this font. Linux Libertine thus contains more than 2000 characters. In this huge amount of glyphs, there still may be small mistakes that we ask you to report for the improvement of the Libertine Font Family. You may also write us, if you would like to see a new feature added (see the section “Contribute” for details).
2. – Styles –
Finished and ready for use in professional segments, contains kernig information, western ligatures, OpenType-Tables, small caps, etc.
Finished and ready for use in professional segments, still in further development. Further features like above.
A bold variant of regular.
A bold variant of the italic.
This is a small capital variant of regular. Each font already contains a european set of it in the private area. OpenType-capable programs can easily switch to small caps, but there is also a seperate font wich allows an easy switch for users who don’t have OpenType-support.
Organic Grotesque (non-linear Sans-Serif) in development.
3. – OpenType –
“OpenType” is the latest magic word in digital typography. Microsoft and Adobe have developped a Standard which supports much more than just typesetting in a line. We won’t give you a whole abstract of OpenType features, but we will describe the OpenType functions that we have implemented into Linux Libertine. For further information see:
Unfortunately few user programs make use of OpenType-features, yet. The positive list indeed is short but a new innovative Tex/LaTex compiler has full OpenType-support: XeTex/XeLaTex. The following PDF shows you the advantages and use of XeTex and Libertine: Libertine-XeTex-EN.pdf.
Every style of Linux Libertine contains so called small capitals. They are, as the name implies, little majuscules which have been manually edited from scaled down versions of capitals to look nicely in titles and for emphasis in running text. With these two tables you can switch majuscules and miniscules to small capitals.
liga hlig dlig
These tables are for ligature substitution.
The liga-table is for standard ligatures, like ff, fi, fl...
The hlig-table is for historic ligatures like st und ct, which are seldom used anymore.
The dlig-table is for discretionary ligatures, such as tz.
LinuxLibertine contains some true fractions (in the form “¼”). One-glyph fractions exist for fractions with the denominator two, three, four, five, six, seven und eight. Others, like 1/10 can be composed of “1/” plus inferior 10. The frac-table is responsible for the automatic substitution of the ASCII-input (i.e. 1/2) with the real glyph “½”.
pnum tnum onum zero
LinuxLibertine contains different sets of numbers. The default is the tnum-set, (Fig: 1st line). They are so called “table-numbers”, which are all the same height and width. Besides there exists the same number style also as a proportional set (pnum, Fig: 2nd line), this means that the numbers have different widths. The 1 is thinner, for example, than the 8. This looks practically always better than the monospaced set, but in tables this set of numbers would of course not align into neat columns. In longer texts one might want to use medieval numbers (also known as minuscle numbers), which will better harmonize with the alphabetical glyphs because of their different ascenders and descenders. This number-set also exists in a monospaced variant (Fig: line 3, thin zero because of the thin monospace) and proportional set with different widths (Fig: line 4). When majuscules, minuscles and numbers are being mixed (as i.e. in Internet-addresses), confusion may arise in distinguishing between O (Oh) and 0 (zero). Therefore Linux Libertine contains two marked Zeros – one proportional and one tabular. The zero-table regulates the automatic substitution from normal to marked zero.
These tables contain a list of stylistic alternatives (salt) or a certain subset of it (ssXX). LinuxLibertine for example contains a German variant of the capital umlauts Ä, Ö and Ü, where the dots are nearer to the glyphs. These are standard since version 2.6. For all those who will not use these glyphs not as German umlauts, but rather as emphasized vowels (like with Ë) there is the ss01-style-set. The ss02-style-set uses more flexible forms of some capitals, such as of K and R.
Via the salt-table, nearly all glyph-variants can be shown but need to be selected separately. An example for this behavior is the new German Versal-Eszett, that is being used automatically with capitalization or small caps. Those who do not want this behavior can have the Versal Eszett substituted by SS by using the salt-table.
For speakers of Swiss German, you can change all occurances of the esszet to ss/SS by using the ss03-style-set.
In some scripts there are special glyphs for word-endings. For example there is a word-ending-sigma in the Greek alphabet. Because Greek keyboards have both characters available, the fina-table will only substitute the innerword-sigma against the word-ending-sigma for all languages but Greek.
For many scientific publications superiors (sups) and inferiors (sinf) are needed.
Linux Libertine contains all numbers, as well as the entire basic Latin alphabet, in their optimized superior and inferior forms. Additionally, the plus and the minus glyph, among many others are included.
Unlike the computer simulated inferiors and superiors (i.e. those used by “M$ Word”) which are generated by simply scaling and repositioning (shown here in red), the inferiors and superiors found in this stylistic set (shown here in green) are modified to fit the optical weight of the original Libertine-glyphs.
The table for contextual chaining substitution (ccmp) allows the substitution of certain characters in a defined surrounding. In the latin alphabeth this is especially useful in case of the minuscle f, whose long characteristic overbording neck collides with leftwarding glyphs. For example with the question mark or accented minuscles. Typical examples are shown left (red). The Libertine contains besides the regular f also a short-necked variant. In case of problematic chains the regular f is substituted in favour of the short-neck one and a collision is thereby prevented (green).
A further use of the ccmp-table is the manual accentuation of letters. Is the vertical bar-accent being combined with an i, for example, it comes to a conflict with the i-dot. The ccmp-table then substitutes the i for a dotless ı.
“aalt” stands for “show all Alternatives,” this table contains all possible related glyphs for the selected one. For example, if an “a” is given, the result you would be shown is the superior and inferior a, the related small capital and a further alternative for the small capital...
At the end we must mention, that unfortunately most programs (also proprietary ones) don’t support OpenType yet – and if they do, it is only rudimentarily implemented. But we see the problem ambivalently: what the OpenType-Fonts lack, software won’t support, and vice-a-versa. As far as we know there are a few serious efforts in the software-world:
XeTex (see above)
The Scribus-Developers work at a wider support. The OpenOffice-Website mentions first steps to support OTFs. The Gimp already knows automatic ligature-substitution, but more complex support of OpenType lacks because of too simple implementations in the Pango-library.
Under Windows and
MacOS at least Adobe Indesign supports all of the implemented functions found in Linux Libertine.
4. – Specialties –
The capital Eszett or Versal-Eszett
For more than a century, typographers kept demanding the Eszett wide acceptance in the versal setting.
Finally, the DIN-Institut (German Standarization) submitted a petition to the ISO, which derived, that in April 2008 the Versal Eszett was given a position in Unicode (at U+1E9E).
Linux Libertine has itself developed a form at the basis of Andreas Stötzner’s proposal (Signa Nr.9).
Two of them exist: a capital and a small capital form (see right figure). Further information can be found at Wikipedia: Versal-Eszett.
Kerning is standard in quality fonts, but how much time and effort the designer wants to spent is quite different.
During the last years, the standard method was to define a one-by-one Kernpair table. Now OpenType fonts can offer a more elegant solution: a kern-by-classes table where groups of similar characters are seen as one kern group, i.e. V and W have nearly the same left and right geometry, and so are in the same kern group. Linux Libertine utilizes this feature, and therefore it may not be supported in simple or old software that it doesn’t understand GPOS kerning too well.
The German language makes use of many doubled consonants, which often formerly had their own glyphs in the Fraktur. These doublekonsonants have in Linux Libertine their own ligatures again. The new German orthography has abolished the 3rd-Konsonant-diminution-rule, and so the German got some typographically ugly words (like Flussschifffahrt). The Doublekonsonant-ligatures of Libertine will make a better form.
Additionally they help the reader to register the glyph group as having just one phonetic value. Another positive consequence is the more compact word presence and the shortening of the long German word chains.
Especially in the natural sciences, special characters are often needed. In mathematics, for example, the Greek letters have long standing historical use as variables. In chemistry, one uses equilibrium arrows regularly, and biologists may need gender signs once in a while.
Though you will still need a special editor to generate complex formulas, you can use Libertines scientific possibilities to set simple equations in running text.
Hinting (displaying on screen)
On optical devices, the resolution is often too bad to show glyphs in their full beauty. While printers, especially laser printers, nowadays reach 300dpi easily, PC-users still are stuck with their 75dpi monitors. Glyphs must therefore being rasterized. A complex technique, that is called “Hinting”, can be used to show glyphs clearly also at small sizes, while the glyphs metrics must be deformed to fit to the monitor’s pixels.
The effect is a clearer view on screen, but the font looks temporarily different from the later printer-output. “Hinting” itself is so far no real “specialty”, because all good fonts do have it, but the font designer needs good knowledge and special software, to be professional in his “hinting”. Latest Linux-Systems often have a socalled Auto-Hinter, which makes it possible to see unhinted fonts on screen quite clear nontheless.
Since version 2.7 Linux Libertine’s TTFs contain TrueType-Hinting for better rastering on Windows (see fig.) or Wikipedia: Hint.
LinuxLibertine in Word2003 under WinXP at 11Pt. “New Hinting” since version 2.7.
Documentation about the Libertine-XeTex-Pakage „xelibertine“ with Unicode-Glyphtable and sample texts. Language is mainly GERMAN but most should be understandable for English-speakers as well because of English commands and the various examples.
Manual of our LaTex-package with installation and usage information. At the end of the file you will also find glyph-tables and sample-texts. Language is mainly GERMAN but most should be understandable for English-speakers as well because of English commands and the various examples.
Our fonts are free in the sense of the GPL and OFL. In a nutshell: Changing the font is allowed as long as the derivative work is published under the same license again. Pedantics keep claiming that the embedded use of GPL-fonts in i.e. PDFs requires the free publication of the PDF as well. This, of course, is absolute nonsense, because - to our opinion - the font is not significantly changed by the embedding. To abolish the conflict some members of the FSF have written an addition to the license: the so called “Font Exception”. Our fonts’ GPL contains this font exception (since version 2.7). Since version 2.1.9 LinuxLibertine is also licensed under the OFL, which will clarify usability-conflicts. Further information about the GPL (
) and about the OFL (
Under SuSE-10.0 and 10.1 the kerning information is sometimes not available. This is a SuSE-Bug which also affects other fonts, too! In OpenSuSE-10.2 this problem is fixed.
We used to provide also *.dfont-files that that people could use on their Macintosh-System if it didn’t like our TTFs (which is not our fault, because Apple’s TTF-conventions differ from MS/Adobe’s ones), but lately OS-X seems to have evolved positively.
Since summer 2007 there seemed to have been a more or less linux wide change of the font management. Since then the Underlined of Libertine is shown instead of the Regular and the Regular isn’t available anymore. There are two possibilities to avoid this fault. You can either download version 2.7 (or newer) or delete the Underlined from your system. The problem doens’t exist on Windows.
Programs that base on the Pango library show ligatures automaticly and exaggerate kerning.
8. – Links –
The author doesn’t have any influence on the contents of the linked pages.
An ergonomic and progressive keybord layout for the German language that offers the possibility to enter many often used special glyphs directly, i.e. the true quotation marks, n-dash and minus, the versal Eszett as well as nearly all further European special characters.
Free DTP software. Supports also OTF-fonts under Linux, but doesn’t support OpenType tables. So kerning, ligature substitution, etc. won’t work. With the use of TTF at least kerning will work partly. A new typesetting machine shall bring the missed OpenType support, soon.
Our project needs help. We especially look for a hinting professional. If you think you’ve got an eye for typography you can be us a great help in giving us your feedback. If you even think you’d be a good font designer, you’re welcome.
You can report bugs at the bug tracker.
If you miss something report it as a feature request. But one word: We cannot add complete alphabeths like Chinese, Japanese or Arabic, etc. And very likely we will not do whole sets of seldom used engineer signs. Please formulate an explanation why you need this or that glyph.
You can contact us via: PhilTheLionusers.sourceforge.net
Please note: This email address has no shown to be absolute reliable. So please don’t send cryptic letters or huge attachments (>1.5MB) and use the tracker if you don’t get response after some days.
Website of the Libertine Open Fonts Project; Copyleft Philipp H. Poll, PhilTheLion at users.sourceforge.net; The Libertine Open Fonts Project publishes under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) and SIL Open Font License - (OFL).