[Xapian-discuss] Powered by Xapian

James Aylett james-xapian at tartarus.org
Wed Sep 16 18:05:48 BST 2009

On Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 03:29:27PM +0100, Olly Betts wrote:

> There's a tension between trying to lock down the branding so that it
> can't be diluted by inappropriate uses, and the freedoms/openness
> which Free Software/Open Source promotes (at least for code).
> Different approaches have been taken by various projects, sometimes with
> results which seems to nobody's benefit (e.g. Debian feel forced to
> unbrand Firefox, and rename their version "Ice Weasel").
> I'm not sure I've seen a totally satisfactory solution yet, and it's
> quite possible there just isn't one.

There isn't a perfect solution. However Mozilla makes things worse
because of their guidelines around branding, which mean that you can't
distribute modified versions under Mozilla names. The logo cannot be
distributed under DFSG, so Firefox has to be modified, so it can't be
called Firefox.

We can avoid this particular issue by allowing things to call
themselves Xapian in more relaxed circumstances. (Since we don't have
a policy on the Xapian name at the moment, it isn't a problem right

To avoid similar problems with the logo, my current feeling is that we
should have a mechanism for creating a distribution that doesn't use
it at all. Right now, that is all distributions; in my docs branch
I can add a mechanism to build all docs with just the name "Xapian"
instead of the logo. This provides an entirely-GPL distribution, and a
mixed distribution if anyone wants; the website doesn't have to be
under the same license, so we can use the logo no matter what license
it's under.

> > Jenny Black really did a good job, her SVG version is very nice.
> I'll pass that on.

I'd like to second that, by the way. It's a very good job.

> > Another point with the logo is the font used for the textual parts 
> > ("Xapian" and "Powered by").
> > I don't know if this is a problem or not to use a commercial font in the 
> > logo of a GPL project...
> My (probably inaccurate) understanding is that the actual shapes of a
> typeface and bitmap renderings of them aren't copyrightable (at least in
> the US), but scalable fonts (with hinting) are regarded as computer
> programs of sufficient complexity to be subject to copyright.

This is correct. (While IANAL, I've had to deal with font licensing
before.) What tends to happen is that the font files are licensed, and
that license includes permission to create renderings.

SVG typically will just reference the font, but of course you can
generate outlines of the font rendering as proposed. This will in
general produce lower quality bitmap renderings than by working with
the original font, because of the lack of things like hinting and
kerning information.

> Legally it may be fine to provide an SVG version, but it's unambiguously
> safe to use a freely licensed font, and it's certainly philosophically
> more consistent.  So I think that's probably my preference if we can
> find one which looks good with the logo.

I'm not wild about the font we have at the moment anyway. I will note
that lots of suitably-free fonts aren't actually very good. There are
lots of fonts that aren't strictly OSS, but have licenses sufficiently
permissive that they can be used by anyone; some of these are pretty

> > Last : I don't know what are the most useful sizes/formats to offer to 
> > users.
> > If anybody have any hint/recommendation, it would help (for now I've 
> > just taken multiples of 2 for the height: 16, 32, 64, 128 and 256 px).

They feel very techie-orientated. I don't know any designers who'd
naturally chose those kinds of grids. It may be worth looking at the
IAB ad sizes guidelines (currently
for button sizes. 


  James Aylett

  talktorex.co.uk - xapian.org - uncertaintydivision.org

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