helpFree UCS Outline Fonts - Support: sr #108702, WOFF files of FreeSerif und...


sr #108702: WOFF files of FreeSerif und FreeSans do not work

Submitted by:  None
Submitted on:  Wed 10 Dec 2014 07:33:18 PM UTC  
Category:  None Priority:  5 - Normal
Severity:  3 - Normal Status:  Works For Me
Privacy:  Public Assigned to:  Steve White <Stevan_White>
Originator Email:  -email is unavailable- Open/Closed:  Open
Operating System:  GNU/Linux

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Mon 15 Dec 2014 10:20:20 PM UTC, comment #10: 

I did one other thing for my server (Apache on Linux). 
I read somewhere that the MIME-type for WOFF in Linux distros is often wrong, that it should be
So I changed my file /etc/mime.types file accordingly (and re-started the server).

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Mon 15 Dec 2014 10:17:18 PM UTC, comment #9: 

I've been administering apache, and writing css etc (and a bit of PHP too but that has nothing to do with this) for many years.  And I can't keep it in my head.  Signs of advancing age?  Or maybe I just don't care enough...

The one thing that I think might make a difference is the "format" specifier for the src url:

        font-family: freeserif;
                url("FreeSerif.woff") format("woff"),
                url("FreeSerif.ttf") format("truetype"),
                url("FreeSerif.otf") format("opentype");
        font-weight: normal;
        font-style:  normal;

That is part of the standard, although it isn't clear to me why it's needed.

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Mon 15 Dec 2014 02:31:19 PM UTC, comment #8: 

Hi Steve,

I need to the thank you again for your really great help and effort. Thanks a lot!

To be honest, for apache, css, and PHP my status is the status of beginner. So, it actually might be I'm doing somthing wrong.

Let me try ...
My HTML sample file contains the following line within the <head> tag:

<link href="style/lemma.css" rel="STYLESHEET" type="text/css">

lemma.css contains the font definitions described below e.g.
@font-face {
  font-family: FreeSerif;
  src: url(FreeSerif.woff);

... and a defintion for the HTML body:
body  {
  font-family: "FreeSerif", Serif; }

As far as I know this should work. And indeed it does work in IE 11 if I use .otf as file extension, it does, however, not work in IE 11 if I use .woff. For testing purposes I replaced the file name FreeSerif.* with FreeMono.*.

The other side of the story is when using Firefox (v31) both, otf as well as woff, are working fine.

What else can we check? Do you see a futher chance?


Sat 13 Dec 2014 09:49:08 AM UTC, comment #7: 

Hi, Franz,

I found a bug in the loading of CSS file on my server (a leftover from some experiments of a couple of years ago.)  Now my report is reversed:  FreeFont WOFF fonts are working in all modern major browsers, including Internet Explorer.

Also working: Firefox (Linux, Windows 7, Windows XP), Konqueror, Chrome (Linux, Windows 7), Opera (Linux, Windows 7), Opera Mobile (Android), Safari (Windows)

The only browsers that don't load the fonts are my ancient copy of the Android Browser, and IE 8, but this is no surprise.  (Ha! Safari has the same bug as Konqueror -- it can't do high Unicode with web fonts...Gothic etc. are screwed up!)

So now we're to the point of investigating what is different between my setup and yours.

  • I'm using the latest build of the development version.
  • CSS setup

Each of my files has a style section in its head like
  <style type="text/css">
        @import url("style.css");
        body { font-family: "freeserif"; }
The style.css file leads to a separate directory (which must also be under the web server's document tree of course) with a directive
   @import url("../tt/full/webfonts.css");
The file webfonts.css has entries like those I described on Dec. 11.

Please double-check your CSS setup.

The next thing to do would be to get you my copies of the WOFF files.  I'll do that offline.


Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Thu 11 Dec 2014 09:50:06 PM UTC, comment #6: 

Hi Franz,

I did some preliminary tests, with several systems, and I did a little experimenting.  So far I only tried FreeFont.

The tests involved: carefully uninstall FreeFont from the systems, and double-checked by viewing a local HTML file that requested FreeSerif, to verify that it isn't present.  (This is pretty easy, as FF suports Unicode ranges that are still very uncommon.)  On the server, I provided only WOFF files. 

ALSO, most browsers perform some caching of resources, fonts in particular.  I did what I could to make sure the caches were erased before starting.


This is a complicated issue, unfortunately.

For reasons that are probably heartbreakingly stupid, webfonts are gelded on most systems -- many tables are not used, kerning in particular.  They call this "sanitization" a word they no doubt hope will help divert blame.  But it's worse than that.

WOFF is a container format (as is OpenType), but it can contain all sorts of font formats.

A note of mine from late 2011 says IE supportes only EOT format, while Safari supported only SVG ...  as of that time, the support for different internal formats was very scattered among different browsers. 
See also

Currently, FreeFont WOFF files are built with OpenType internal format.

This might also be a difference between the various free WOFF format fonts.



First, I'm pleased to say, the WOFF-format Web fonts work well on all major (GUI) browsers on Linux.  These are naturally our primary target environments.  I tried recent vesions of Firefox, Konqueror, Opera, and Chrome.  (Konqueror has some nasty bugs, but it was definitely using the downloaded fonts.)

I also tried my years-old Android phone, so anything might have improved since.  But anyway, webfonts is a bit of a heavy technology still for 3G.  The Android browser does nothing with the webfonts.  And according to the abouve "caniuse" table... it's not surprising.
But also Opera Mobile didn't work -- yet the table says webfonts are supported.

For fun, I cranked up Windows XP.  There, a recent version of Firefox performed splendidly.  But I couldn't get Explorer 8 to load FreeFont WOFF files at all.  I'm not sure I ever succeeded (I have notes somewhere...)

Finally I tried Windows 7, which is like the environment of your report. 
My first viewing confirms your observation about FreeFont not loading in Explorer.  But what's surprising is -- Firefox also didn't load it (Although the same version did load it on Windows XP!)


What could it be?  Some thoughts:

1) I remember that Explorer had some bugs at one time...  there were ugly work-arounds in CSS that supposedly allowed it to function... but I don't recall if I ever got those to work.  And that was in Explorer 8-9 days.

Anyway, it's worth checking.

2) It is very possible that something in FreeFont triggers something in some layer of who knows what software.  That could be a real bug in FreeFont being carefully screened... but I would guess it is the other way around.  Just some unusual feature in the font trips a bug in some software.  But I can't tell.

The deal is, FreeFont is indeed very big, and uses features that appear in very few other fonts, and sometimes in surprising, or perhaps peculiar ways.  Now, if it were a better world, that wouldn't affect whether the font was loaded.  It would affect only how text is rendered. 

3) With Firefox, it could well be one of those fancy about:config things.  I tried wiglling a lot of them, but my copy is not pristine... But if it isn't this... I don't know...could there be a MS software layer involved?  I can't imagine how.  Firefox has displayed WOFF on that same system in the past.

There's also something about the origin of the font file as reported by HTTP.  Some browsers are picky tht it comes from the same server as the page it's embedded in.  But that's not the problem here.

Don't know... suspect my server isn't set up right.

4) I guess I should devise a test with one of the other WOFF fonts.

5) I do not want to engage in a divide-and-conquer to hunt down bugs in a commercial product, (short of being terrifically well paid for it).   Reciprocally, big commercial SW sellers are unlikely to hunt down bugs in their software that are triggered by freeware.  It's easier to just block the freeware.  So we may well end up at an impasse.

Let me know if you have any further ideas!

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Thu 11 Dec 2014 02:46:20 PM UTC, comment #5: 

It's my working machine and neither one of the FreeFonts nor one of the GentuimPlus fonts is installed. I just checked the Windows\Fonts folder.

Strange, isn't it?


Thu 11 Dec 2014 02:05:39 PM UTC, comment #4: 

One more question:

Are you sure none of these fonts is installed on the system where the browser is running?

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Thu 11 Dec 2014 11:09:48 AM UTC, comment #3: 

Hi Steve,

Thanks a lot for your reply. You are right, there is indeed a reason why I believe this issue might be caused by FreeSerif or FreeSans. An expample:

GentiumPlus (a SIL font) comes with HTML and CSS example files. Displaying the HTML file in IE 11 is working fine and without any problems. So, I thought using the CSS file as a base and just changing it by replacing GentiumPlus with one of the FreeFonts would be a good idea and so I did. The following lines are working fine (I'm using FreeMono here, but it's the same for FreeSans and FreeSerif):

@font-face {
  font-family: GentiumPlus;
  src: url(GentiumPlus-R.ttf);
@font-face {
  font-family: GentiumPlus;
  font-style: italic;
  src: url(FreeMonoOblique.otf);

body {
  font-family: GentiumPlus, serif;
h1 {
  font-weight: normal;

Changing src: url(FreeMonoOblique.otf); to src: url(FreeMonoOblique.woff);, however, fails. That's why I beleive there is either a problem concering the WOFF version of the FreeFonts or the FreeFonts need for whatever reason a different coding.

Anyway, for the time being I can continue with the OFT versions, but of course I would prefer to use continue with WOFF.


Wed 10 Dec 2014 09:59:32 PM UTC, comment #2: 

Hi Franz,

I haven't tried the WOFF fonts in a long time.
Do you have reason to believe this is special to FreeFont?

I seem to remember Explorer having some special parameters to the CSS... something about specifying the format... but that was an older version of the software.

I'll give it a shot soon.

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Wed 10 Dec 2014 07:40:04 PM UTC, comment #1: 

I'm using Internet Explorer 11 running on Windows 7 for accessing the site of the Web project.


Wed 10 Dec 2014 07:33:18 PM UTC, original submission:  

Hello everybody,

I'm trying to use the WOFF files of FreeSerif and FreeSans in a Web project (on SUSE Linux ES11, Apache2, PHP 5.3) and therefore added the follwing definitions to the CCS file (here just an example):

@font-face {
 font-family: FreeSans;
 src: url(FreeSans.woff)
 @font-face {
 font-family: FreeSans;
 font-weight: bold;
 src: url(FreeSansBold.woff)

Unfortunately this definition does not work and neither FreeSerif nor FreeSans are shown. The OFT file versions as defined the follwing way do, however, work:

@font-face {
  font-family: FreeSerif;
  src: url(FreeSerif.otf);

@font-face {
  font-family: FreeSerif;
  font-weight: bold;
  src: url(FreeSerifBold.otf);

I do not see any reason in the definition part of the CSS file why the WOFF files shoudn't work, however, maybe somebody has an idea.

Thanks a lot in advance.




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