FreeType is a free library, the computer represents fonts ( in different formats ) as raster graphics, and by using a uniform interface for all font formats. Depending on the size and resolution of the characters are filled with a different amount of pixels.

Currently, among others, the following vector font formats supported: TrueType, OpenType, PostScript Type 1 and Type 2 ( CFF), Postscript CID - keyed fonts. In addition, BDF, PCF and Windows bitmap fonts can be displayed.

FreeType is an open source project, the GNU General Public License (GPL) or the Freetype License ( similar to the BSD license ) can be integrated into any application programs. The library can therefore also be used for developing proprietary software and is widely used in addition to the use as a desktop software in the field of computer games. It is easily portable and is currently the standard solution to represent True and Open Type fonts under Linux.


David Turner began in the winter of 1995 to work on FreeType, as his former OS / 2 offered no support for TrueType. After releasing his first Pascal codes encountered among other Werner Lemberg to the project, which continues to play an important role.

Version 1 of FreeType brought support for TrueType fonts on many platforms. In version 2 support was added for additional font formats. Further, FreeType 2 generate hints for improving the display at lower resolutions automatically and does not rely on the information in the font file, which improves the appearance of fonts that such references do not supply. Since the standard method for the hinting of patents the company Apple was affected, which expired on 9th October 2009, so that potential patent infringement could be circumvented. On the other hand, it may deteriorate the appearance when it is used instead of hand- optimized supplied hints. As it was originally designed only to Western writing systems, it worked sometimes poorly or not with others. Therefore, here the activation of the patented technique was often preferred. The free Linux distributions Debian and Ubuntu had as default FreeType with the Hint interpreter on board, although he was charged by patent.

2007 in OpenJDK replaced as part of the release of Java technology as free software non-free font rasterization component of the JDK by FreeType.