[reportlab-users] reportlab on Debian

Andy Robinson andy at reportlab.com
Sun Jun 2 08:29:49 EDT 2013

Brenda, I'll try to answer at least from ReportLab's viewpoint, but
cannot speak for the Debian maintainers.

1. reportlab.org got folded into reportlab.com some time ago (years).
The fonts are here (and the directory is browseable):


2. We don't include them in the standard 'reportlab' package because
licensing of them for distribution is a little uncertain. The 14
standard fonts have special meaning in all postscript devices and in
PDF (they should always be available on the output device, even if not
embedded), so as a practical matter tons of examples do use Helvetica,
Times etc. But to create a bitmap (e.g. a chart in .png), you need a
copy of those font files. In the old days, these would be in a
subdirectory of your Acrobat Reader installation and we could just
look for them if we wanted to make bitmaps. Then, they ceased to be
(presumably they are embedded in binaries somewhere or aliased to
system fonts). We ended up having to zip up and put them somewhere.
These were always free (as in $$$) fonts available from a ton of
places, but are not technically open source, so we didn't want to put
them in the main distro. Debian also said they can't bundle any font
in a distribution without proof that it is available under an open
license - in other words, recipients must be free to actually modify
the font curves themselves! Instead, we put them on our site, and
'setup.py install' will fetch them for you during installation if you
have an internet connection.

3. We added the Bitstream Vera family within our distro, because they
are pretty good general fonts for embedding; and we added DarkGarden
because it looks utterly unlike anything you would actually use, so
it's a good way to check you have managed to load up a custom font.

Going forwards, we don't really know what to do because the "standard
14" are still a part of the Postscript and PDF spec, yet many newer
specs about PDF accessibility and preservation say that you should
embed all fonts. In a major new version (if we ever get there), I
guess we would probably move to embedding open source fonts by

In any event, why not just install a copy from our distro? It's as
easy as "easy_install reportlab" or "pip install reportlab"?

Hope this helps,

Andy Robinson
CEO, ReportLab

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