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Font HOWTO For Linux 340

big-dog writes "The Register is running a good HOWTO on getting fonts to look better in Linux." Making things look purty is always good.
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Font HOWTO For Linux

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  • Strange (Score:5, Funny)

    by sasquatchoflove ( 614555 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @07:55PM (#4534404)
    Isn't it strange that this gets posted as I'm futzing with my fonts? I open konqueror to test them and I see this!! Just confirms my fears that THEY are watching my every move...
    • Re:Strange (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dragon213 ( 604374 )
      ahhhh!!!! the paranoids are after me!!!!
    • Re:Strange (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Inthewire ( 521207 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:00PM (#4534428)
      "Isn't it strange that this gets posted as I'm futzing with my fonts?"

      Not really. I think it makes sense - Linux users are often in the midst of fiddling about with some part of their system.

      Not trying to be inflammatory, now, 'cause I know all about the embedded stuff, the server stuff, etc. It's just that this particular OS attracts tinkerers.

    • Re:Strange (Score:3, Informative)

      by KnightStalker ( 1929 )
      No kidding. I hosed my system this morning with a little "I'll install True Type fonts... it can't hurt anything..."

      Now, KDE doesn't start, even after reinstalling it three times and reinstalling X once.

      Here I am, looking at /. from within FVWM, and the gods are taunting me.

      • Re:Strange (Score:2, Insightful)

        Now that kde is being mean and not working, try out other wm's if you haven't before. I use fluxbox and will never use anything ever again. Besides, with only 128mb of ram, kde3 is a bit painful.
    • Re:Strange (Score:5, Funny)

      by isorox ( 205688 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:32PM (#4534630) Homepage Journal
      Just confirms my fears that THEY are watching my every move...

      No they're not. don't be paranoid.

      P.S. If you turn round you'll knock that can off your desk - just a friendly warning ;)
      • "P.S. If you turn round you'll knock that can off your desk - just a friendly warning ;)"

        While you're watching the Simpsons tonight, the phone will ring. Don't answer it. Bwahahahaha

        Okay, that joke was deritive. Sue me. I want to write for SNL one day.

    • Re:Strange (Score:5, Funny)

      by spoonist ( 32012 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:40PM (#4534900) Journal


      Wake up, Neo.

      The Matrix has you.

      Follow the white rabbit.

    • Re:Strange (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rob_from_ca ( 118788 )
      Yeah, statistically speaking the average Linux user spends 75.2% of their time at their computer trying to make their fonts look good, so it's actually not that strange at all. :-)
  • Purty, huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Powercntrl ( 458442 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @07:57PM (#4534410)
    Does that mean they'll look like they were sprayed with Rust-Oleum? That's how my grandfather makes everything purdy.
  • Step 1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:00PM (#4534429)
    1. Install a distro that actually cares about fonts. Eg, Red Hat 8.

    Congratulations, you're finished.
    • Re:Step 1 (Score:5, Informative)

      by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:48PM (#4534694) Journal
      Congratulations, you're finished.

      Getting fonts right isn't just about installing them. Examine the screenshot [theregister.co.uk] from the article, and look at the Tahoma sample text (fifth from top). It is clear that the "q" and "r" and "Q" and "R" need more space between them. The "c" and "d" of Thorndale and Times New Roman, on the other hand, have too much space between them. Note also that you can probably spot these anomalies without even reading the text closely.

      Also, it's not hard to confuse Qt (and maybe also Gtk) or a window manager with fonts. Pick a strange font or size, and the resulting size of buttons and such often become ugly or overlap incorrectly with decorations.

      So, no, despite FreeType and friends (which are wonderful), we're not done with fonts yet.

      • Have a look at these XFT/Freetype hacks [mcgill.ca]. The author of these initially started off hacking XFT to remove hinting, then added back an improved "slight-hinting" model, and is now working on making the changes directly to the FreeType library (which has the added advantage of fixing OOo's fonts and making them look decent (finally!)).

        I've been using this FreeType hack for a while now and Windows and MacOS look far worse in comparison. Just check out the screenshots on the page if you don't believe me!

    • "1. Install a distro that actually cares about fonts. Eg, Red Hat 8."

      Makes ya wonder why an OS with such a strong CLI has taken so long to worry about fonts. heh.

      It's funny, laugh!
  • by Joey7F ( 307495 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:01PM (#4534441) Homepage Journal
    I know someone will get on here saying (or at least think it), can't we concentrate on making the 2.5 kernel as stable as 2.2.x. Fonts are just for making things look 'purdy' which doesn't help if you are crashing, blah blah blah

    Fonts are very important.

    Fonts are one of the last barriers to a linux migration. That is also one of the first (negative) differences people notice on my monitor.

    Never underestimate the lure of a goodlooking UI on the average user!

    --Joey
    • by Soul-Burn666 ( 574119 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:17PM (#4534555) Journal
      Ugly fonts are harder to read means you become less productive.

      'nuff said.
    • Hell, it's nothing about "average users" and UI-prettiness. It's about making sure you don't destroy your eyes reading text on your computer! That said, Linux fonts have been great for a long time. If you're fonts look bad, you're doing something wrong.
      • Well, if you are a Red Hat user you don't have to do anything wrong, you just have to have an older distro. Fonts in Mozilla under Red Hat 8.0 are pretty ugly unless you follow the font-deuglification howto. Then they are great.

        Red Hat 8.0 seems fine to me so far, but I still want to add the ones in the article just so I have everything I might want for OpenOffice in the future.
  • by mhesseltine ( 541806 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:01PM (#4534447) Homepage Journal

    Maybe it's just me, but the after picture [theregister.co.uk] looks worse than the before picture [theregister.co.uk]. Or, maybe it's just a case of "Oops, I named the files wrong."

    • It's probably you. By default, MSIE will scale large images down to fit on screen, thus royally screwing up the images. Turn this feature off to see the proper screenshots.
    • Strongly Recommended (Score:5, Informative)

      by mickwd ( 196449 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:45PM (#4534682)
      I've got to point out this site [mcgill.ca] for improving fonts even more. The difference it made to my fonts was amazing - and I was already using sub-pixel rendering and a laptop display with freetype2-2.1.2 (with the bytecode interpreter compiled in).

      I STRONGLY recommend you try it out - he even includes a pre-compiled libfreetype (built for Red Hat, I think, but works great on Mandrake 9.0). You'll need to put it in the right directory, and create the right symbolic links to it.

      I don't know how much of the improvement is due to this guy's improvements, and how many are due to the upcoming freetype2-2.1.3, but whatever - Linux fonts are no longer inferior to look at.
  • The author recommends you install the fonts in 2 or 3 different places. Whatever happened to installing them in one spot and symlinking to the others? Also removes the need to go thru the whole copy to the other directories rigamorale everytime you reinstall/upgrade.
    • Not everyone is an admin and understands the usefullness of symlinks, seperate filesystems, and having (and acutally properly using) /usr/local.

      I've had some "seasoned" admins that I've worked with for a few years actually look suprised when I mentioned that you could (gasp) mount /usr as a read only file system if you really needed to protect it.

  • Licensing Issues (Score:3, Informative)

    by bookroach ( 607259 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:03PM (#4534454) Homepage Journal
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi@@@yahoo...com> on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:04PM (#4534463) Journal
    who doesn't like the 'fuzzy' fonts? If you turn Clear Type on in XP or use IE for OS X the fonts seem to be *harder* to read. (to me)
    I want fonts to be antialiased on paper, not on the screen.

    If you don't have ClearType or font smoothing, you can approximate the effect.

    Just smear Vaseline evenly over your screen - voila! Antialiased fonts!

    It worked for Cybil Shepard on 'Moonlighting'.

    • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:18PM (#4534818)
      I want fonts to be antialiased on paper, not on the screen.


      You don't quite get the concept of anti-aliasing, do you? Aliasing is the stair-step pattern you get on non-orthogonal lines on a bitmap based display (e.g. a CRT or LCD). Anti-aliasing is the apparent removal of those artifacts by blending the line's color with the color behind it.

      Printers do not anti-alias printed lines on an offset press. You gain sharpness in printing by increasing the resolution of your source material. A 1200 dpi (or greater) typesetter (or direct to press digital system) will create typography that is, for all intents and purposes, perfect.

      Asking for anti-aliased letters on a printed page is like asking to buy someone's used Yugo. It's both dumb and useless.
      • I do understand anti-aliasing, but the parent post is right -- on some screens, at some resolutions, AA'd screen fonts look fuzzy (worst case, they can be almost unreadable). So I think it's good, even necessary, to allow anti-aliasing to be turned off if the user so desires.

        BTW, I frequently need to resize image files of various sorts, and have learned that sometimes (depending on content) they look better when I turn off anti-aliasing.

      • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @10:36AM (#4536578) Homepage
        ... or something damn close to it. For an old HP LJIIIp that looks a lot better than an LJII, even though both are 300 dpi. It's because the IIIp uses smaller dots where appropriate at the edges. Many ink jet printers do the same thing. Not sure if anything at 1200 dpi bothers with this trick, but the trick's good enough that the quality difference between the IIIp at 300 dpi and a 600 dpi printer is very hard to see.
    • Cleartype on my laptop ROCKS. IT's the smoothest, sharpest fonts I've ever seen, anywhere but in print.

      Cleartype only really works if you are using an LCD, btw... and it depends on how the LCD screen is constructed.

      Also, have you gone to the proper MS site and tuned your cleartype settings?

      Tune Cleartype [microsoft.com]

      IF you have a 1600x1200 laptop, I recommend setting XP to 120dpi instead. Yes, the fonts get larger, and some things are a bit out of whack due to bad programming.. but I assure you the increased resolution combined with cleartype makes things look sweeeeeet. Also, if you use Acrobat Reader (which uses it's own font rendering engine), make sure you go into the settings and turn on CoolType to get similar results.

  • by RomikQ ( 575227 ) <romikq@mail.ru> on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:04PM (#4534464) Homepage
    Well, personally, I prefer to read text without AA, because anti-aliased text is too blurry. Sure it looks pretty on screenshots and you can impress al your friends, but really, when I have to read large amounts of text from a pc screen my eyes get tired twice as wuickly with AA switched on. Sharp edges help.

    Now, merely having TTFs or anti-aliasing isn't enough. Take a look at this [theregister.co.uk] screen shot of TTFs in an OpenOffice.org document. They're clunky and blocky and basically impossible to distinguish from each other. However, with a bit of tweaking we can make them look distinct, slick and refined, as you can see in this [theregister.co.uk] screen shot.

    I think everyone agrees that the first one is horrible. And the second... well maybe it's just me, but I can't see a difference between their tweaked AA and my own no-tweaked non-AA...
    • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:26PM (#4534849)
      If your antialiasing is blurry, then it's just not the right one for you.

      Proper antialiased fonts are NOT blurry, and ARE easier to read than their blocky counterparts.

      The reason screenshots of subpixel antialiasing look like shit is because you aren't using the same display to see them. If I took a screenshot of my 1600x1200 laptop screen, and you display it on your 1600x1200 monitor, the fonts will look crappy to you, because the subpixel rendering is tuned to the exact screen I have, and requires an LCD to boot. Even if you have a 1600x1200 LCD, it may not look the way it looks to me, because different LCDs display things different ways; that's why there are ways to tune the rendering to look right on your display.

    • "Well, personally, I prefer to read text without AA, because anti-aliased text is too blurry. Sure it looks pretty on screenshots and you can impress al your friends, but really, when I have to read large amounts of text from a pc screen my eyes get tired twice as wuickly with AA switched on. Sharp edges help."

      Hrmm. Does Windows 2000 do it's font anti-aliasing differently then? (no, not Cleartype, just basic anti-aliasing) I haven't used Linux a whole lot so I can't really compare the two. I'm just curious if Win2k's idea of AA is different than KDE or Gnome's?

      Anybody comment on that? If they are different, and Windows looks noticably better (My text isn't blurry), then what's MS doing different?
  • by e_n_d_o ( 150968 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:08PM (#4534490)
    Red Hat 8 appears to have most of this set up from the factory, with the exception of the MS fonts.

    There is an unbelievably irritating aspect of anti-alised fonts I've found with RH8 (and in previous experiences with Gnome2): GTK+2 apps will insist on using Anti-alised fonts for EVERYTHING, and there seems to be no way to turn it off. While I think anti-aliased fonts are wonderful most of the time, I believe most developers will agree they are not so great in terminal windows or when viewing source code.

    If you change your font preferences to "monochrome", you can then set source code editor/terminal fonts to non-anti-aliasable ones, like LucidaTypewriter. Then switch the font prefs back to your previous anti-aliased setting, and the modified programs will retain the non-antialiased font setting.

    I don't know whose fault it is that this workaround is required (GTK, Red Hat, the apps themselves, etc), but it would be most appreciated if non-antialiasable fonts appeared in the font-selection dialogs even when antialiasing is enabled.
    • by foonf ( 447461 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:13PM (#4534523) Homepage
      You can specify in /etc/XftConfig whether or not to anti-alias fonts based on name, type, and size. So for instance you can disable antialiasing on fonts size 12 and below, fixed-width fonts, italic fonts, etc. if you like.

      Everything that uses Xft to render anti-aliased fonts (and, except for a few programs with lame software freetype support, this is everything) will be affected by this.
      • [CORRECTION]

        XftConfig is usually in /etc/X11, not /etc
        • [CORRECTION]

          XftConfig is usually in /etc/X11, not /etc

          Who modded this up? It all depends on how you set up your system, there is NO standard filesystem structure for XFree86 configuration files. FreeBSD's port of XFree86 puts XftConfig in /usr/X11R6/share/X11/ for example -- and apparenly other OSes and/or disrributions (for some strange reason) decides to put it in /etc (despite the fact that /etc is for operating system-specific configuration files).


          - James

          • It's a compile-time setting. Oh, and FreeBSD's XftConfig is in /etc/X11, just like everywhere else. It's just a symlink to that far away place you name. /etc/X11/XftConfig is shorter :)

            Oh, minor nitpick wrt the screenshots: What is it with people taking screenshots with The Gimp?!? Surely there are better ways to dump one's screen to a file like using xwd, ImageMagick's import, Ksnapshot, or whatever. Takes less time too. Taking screenshots with Gimp is like swatting a fly with a tactical nuke. It works, but it's overkill.

          • Who modded this up? It all depends on how you set up your system, there is NO standard filesystem structure for XFree86 configuration files.

            i prefer putting every thing in /Documents\ and\ Settings/

            ;)
    • by zdzichu ( 100333 ) <zdzichu@noSpAm.irc.pl> on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:14PM (#4534535) Homepage Journal
      GTK+2 apps will insist on using Anti-alised fonts for EVERYTHING, and there seems to be no way to turn it off.

      You can turn them off:

      export GDK_USE_XFT=0
  • by sc00p18 ( 536811 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:09PM (#4534492)

    ...can be found here. [paulandlesley.org] It's really easy to follow his instructions to get true type fonts working right.

    • It refers to the Microsoft-provided font package, and that's been removed from Debian ever since MS pulled the fonts. The msttcorefonts .deb doesn't actually provide the fonts, it just downloads them from the MS web site -- and so, it's useless, as the web site no longer has them.

      Pity, too, because I run Debian, and I've never been able to get decent fonts under any flavor of Linux.


      • Somebody else told me that the MS fonts have been reposted somewhere on sourceforge, and that Debian now downloads them from there. That'd be neat.

        I love typesetting, but I hate messing with fonts on my computer. Why the hell can't they look nice out of the box?

  • What about Xft? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nothing_23 ( 530363 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:13PM (#4534520) Homepage Journal
    That HOWTO seems to ignore the best option for getting pretty fonts on X, Xft. [fontconfig.org]
    I am currently running Redhat 8.0 with an XFT version of Mozilla [newaol.com], and I must may my screenies [zipcon.net] are much prettier.
    With Xft, FreeType, and some good TrueType fonts, I finally have a Linux desktop with fonts prettier than WinXP.
  • With the recent sendmail trojan (which trojaned your system when you ran make), I would assume people would be more careful of this. The howto author compiles as root, just a warning...
  • by ultor ( 216766 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:15PM (#4534545) Homepage
    I'm sorry to say that these people obviously haven't messed with the fonts stuff other than the top layer of complexity. I suggest if you are really interested in font antialiasing and configuration you look at Fontconfig and Xft2 [fontconfig.org]. Keith Packard has done an excellent job with these products along many other cool things within X (ie. Render Extension, RandR, the new XCursor system). Compiling everything with Fontconfig/Xft2 support is a little daunting at first, but when you're done it looks great.
  • Subpixel hinting (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doug Neal ( 195160 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:20PM (#4534572)
    For those saying that ClearType style subpixel hinting is "too blurry", you should be aware that it only really works on TFT screens as the way it works requires a set pixel layout, which traditional CRTs don't have. Steve Gibson has a fairly good explanation of how it works on his website [grc.com] (if you can put up with his infuriating self-congratulatory writing style).

    So yes - regular antialiasing should be all that's needed on a CRT.

    And... I'm currently typing this from Konqueror 3, which renders subpixel antialiased Truetype and Type1 fonts absolutely beautifully, along with the rest of KDE 3, in fact I would say it looks a lot nicer than Cleartype. Especially on a 1600x1200 TFT. Mmm, shiny :D
  • by BJH ( 11355 )
    He goes through all the hassle of rebuilding Freetype, and then the screenshots at the end aren't even antialiased...

    So what was the point of this article again?
    • You got me, I was thinking the same thing. From what I could see only the first screenshot that he called "ugly" had any anti-aliasing at all. The rest of them were crappy jagged-edged fonts. I guess he thinks of them as "normal" because before Windows XP it didnt support good anti-aliasing.
  • Another HOWTO (Score:5, Informative)

    by capnjack41 ( 560306 ) <spam_me@crapola.org> on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:38PM (#4534657)
    The Linux Font De-Uglification Howto [tldp.org]

    Mostly the same stuff, possibly?

  • by jrstewart ( 46866 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @08:38PM (#4534658) Homepage
    The flag that this article suggests turning on is off by default because the hinting algorithm in question may violate Microsoft and Apple patents. Not the average user really cares about this, but it was irresponsible of The Register to not explain this in the article. On the other hand, this is The Reg we're talking about here...

    More info: http://freetype.sourceforge.net/patents.html
  • by peterpi ( 585134 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:10PM (#4534786)
    • You've obviously not used (insert distro here)
    • Well, you just need to edit your XF86Config.
    • I read code, so I don't need AA fonts.
    • Yes you should have the fonts there, but you actually need to symlink them over here, here, there, and there.
    • GUIs are for lusers, you are obviously not 1337.

    Much as the work on getting fonts to work on X is to be commended, I don't think we're ready to start showing off just yet.

    Get back to me in a few years when something approaching a workable standard is around.

    • I don't think it will be years. I think its safe to say Redhat 8 set a new standard in the "Out of Box experience" category. I think its also safe to say no distro will ship with shitty fonts in their next release now. I think that is something to celebrate and show off don't you? I know everyone I've shown OpenOffice to has been impressed with the fonts.

      Regarding the arguing, well some things will never change. I sometimes get fed up with it as well, and I'm sure some people get fed up with me, but you gotta admit this would be one boring website without it.
  • What?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ulwarth ( 458420 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:18PM (#4534819) Homepage
    I don't get it. The two screenshots he shows to compare (923.png and 930.png) look identical to me, except that one has anti-aliasing and one doesn't. He claims the second one looks better, but I don't see it.

    In fact, I think his screenshots look pretty ugly in general. He's managed to duplicate the blocky, hard-edged look of Windows 9x quite well, but I hardly consider this attractive. Red Hat 8.0's fonts look significantly better than his screenshots.

    Mac OS X still has a wide lead on best look fonts, but IMO a modern Linux box has superior fonts to any version of Windows.
  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot@@@keirstead...org> on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:21PM (#4534828) Homepage

    I am posting the same thing here as I posted over at the dot [kde.org] 10 minutes ago. Just a glace at his two Openoffice screenshots showed me this guy is seriously whacked. The second screenshot, which he claimed is "more refined" is clearly much more jagged than the first. A simple look with Xmag sees the only difference between the two is that the second has anti-aliasing turned off. Same with the"results" screenshots at the end.... they look like crap compared to my fonts in KDE, and I did nothing speccial. Just apt-get install msttcorefonts in Debian. There is no anti-aliasing going on at all in these screenshots, they look horrible.

    Now, I totally respect people who don;t like anti-aliased fonts. but in KDE (which this article seems to be mainly about) or OpenOffice, disbling anti-aliasing is as easy as unchecking a menu option... if you don't want it, don't use it. What is the point of the whole long process in this article exactly?

    • That's the only explanation. I was puzzled by it too! When I found the first, anti-aliased screen and he says he'll improve it a lot I thought "Wow, let me see the second screen now!".

      The second screen shows non-AA fonts! :)

      Weird! :)

  • why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jchristopher ( 198929 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:40PM (#4534902)
    What kind of message does it send that there is actually a NEED for a "font how-to" in the first place?

    I cannot comprehend what is so hard about making fonts work. TrueType is a known format. The OS loads it up and the programs use the OS to interact with the fonts, right? Windows and Mac handle it fine, what exactly is the cause of the difficulty under Linux?

    • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cid Highwind ( 9258 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @11:27PM (#4535265) Homepage
      Two main reasons, both derive from IP issues.
      The freetype bytecode interpreter is possibly infringing on an Adobe patent. MS and Apple both shell out big bucks in licensing fees to Adobe for rights to the patented aspects of TrueType rendering, and it shows in the quality of their screen font rendering. Second, the fonts that are available freely (GNU free, not $0 free) are utter shite. They would look bad on any system. Microsoft has great fonts, which are available for free (as in no money) but there are some restrictions on distributing them, so they are never included in a Linux distro.
  • For high-res screens (Score:5, Informative)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:50PM (#4534930)
    If you're running a high-res screen (currently this would be one of those 133 or 140 DPI LCDs) or if you like your fonts on the softer side, the TrueType hinting algorithm will tend to make your fonts too thin. I'm running a 1600x1200 LCD and the bytecode interpreter, which tends to snap fonts to integral numbers of pixels, distorts the shape and makes fonts too thin to read. A wonderful fix for this is to download and compile the FreeType2-current from FreeType's FTP site (under the unstable directory). Then, get some nice Type1 fonts (currently, a lot of fixes are in the pshinter) and make sure to disable the TrueType bytecode interpreter (it's disabled by default). Turn on AA, and you're treated to some wonderfully rendered fonts. Anti-aliased enough to be smooth, but still sharp enough to be easily readable. I've got a screenshot at: http://home.mindspring.com/~heliosc/fonts.png
  • pretty != readable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:52PM (#4534942)
    Some of the original X11 bitmapped fonts are probably among the most readable fonts anywhere. They were hand-designed and tuned over the years.

    The point of TrueType is not to give you more readable fonts than good manually designed ones, it is to give you complete families of decent fonts at many screen resolutions and sizes; that's needed because it would be way too much work to design all those font instances by hand. Still, if you did, you'd only improve the TrueType output.

    Furthermore, anti-aliasing, font smoothing, and similar tricks do make pages appear prettier, but they generally don't enhance readability, and may even degrade it. That's why, among other things, many systems let you turn off font smoothing below a certain size. Cleartype and its equivalents, however, may help with readability, since they really do increase spatial resolution (at the cost of color fidelity).

  • RPM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Faux_Pseudo ( 141152 ) <Faux.Pseudo@gmai ... m minus math_god> on Friday October 25, 2002 @09:53PM (#4534943) Homepage
    Ok so here I am with my first moderator points in who knows how
    long[0] and I wanted to use them so badly on this thread because I am
    really new to this whole X font thing having spent so much time in a
    self imposed exile to the command line for two years[1]. So I am back
    to using X and this font HOWTO sounded like a great idea. Until I
    started reading it. To paraphrase "Just unpack the src RPM". Well
    hell I thought HOWTOs were supposed to be distro independent because
    the HOWTO might outlive the distro and because not every one uses
    Uber_Distro_GNU/Linux. I fit in to that latter category. I run
    Slackware and some people run Debian. Now it is possible to unpack
    that RPM and futs with it for a little while and hope that it works
    no matter what distro you are on but the HOWTOs are supposed to "speak
    in a language that everyone can comprehend."[2]
    One of the tricks to Linux's success is that is very portable to any
    arch. Shouldn't the HOWTOs be written with the same idea?

    I really did want to use those mod points here. Oh well better luck
    next thread.

    [0] remember that 1000 mod pointed post? Well apparently I have
    served my time.
    [1] to better learn this thing called Linux better than a GUI will
    ever allow.
    [2] no thats not a Living Color song.
  • I don't see it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by praedor ( 218403 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @10:30PM (#4535060) Homepage

    Honestly, I do NOT see nice fonts displayed any time there is an article about fixing fonts in linux.


    There is one place and one place only that I have ever seen a screen loaded with nicely antialiased fonts...my KDE desktop using the longtime antialiasing support from QT. The fonts I have are SMOOTH. Let me reiterate that, they are smooth. No jaggy lines, no stairstep angles, just smooth antialiasing. Beautiful.


    I then read an article like that at the Register, look at the screen shots, and all I can do is say "What the fu*K are they talking about?! Those fonts are STILL jaggy and they are NOT aa.


    I've recently read a few other articles about fonts, aa, and hinting. I look at the results in screenshots and the fonts are either STILL jaggy or they are horrifically smeared. If hinting means "smear the crap out of the font until it makes you think your glasses are greasy or you are developing cataracts" then that hinting crap is working great! Nice looking aa fonts do NOT have to be blurred out of recognition. AA means NO jaggy lines, just smooth, flowing, SLIGHTLY (EVER so slightly) blurred fonts.


    So far, mozilla simply has ugly font rendering no matter how you slice it. Its fonts are jaggy/stairstepped. Period. Butt-ugly. Same with Gnome. I have tried to get fonts to look as nice in Gnome as they look in KDE but it just doesn't happen. I either get the greasy glasses effect or jaggy lines.


    I have to come to the conclusion that when people SAY antialiasing, they really don't know what their are talking about. Or they are referring to a different antialiasing than I am aware of. If your fonts have jaggy lines, then you are NOT enjoying the fruit of aa. Sorry, but that is a fact.


  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i.gmail@com> on Friday October 25, 2002 @11:43PM (#4535313) Homepage Journal
    GNU/Linux does have good defaults, for a server.

    However, for the most part, it has very poor defaults for the average home-user desktop-user. I'm speaking as a Debian user here.

    Distributions should offer a "desktop" option during setup, which will set things up nicely for the average desktop user: that means anti-aliasing, maximum resolution possible, 16-bit color, a reasonable font-set, and a good default GUI-configuration (this does not mean a aqua-esque theme; this means that, for example, if the WM is WindowMaker, icons for the internet, e-mail, spreadsheets, word processors, etc should be on the dock).

    All of the right stuff is there to make GNU/Linux. All that developers need to do is set up good defaults. This is simply a configuration issue; it is not something which is going to prevent you from devoting enough time to core technical issues.
  • I copied over MS TTF fonts and X acknowledged them but looking at a webpage in Moz with Verdana shows huge disproportionate characters. Is this a problem with Mozilla or just a problem with raw TTF/xfs?
  • Wrong Direction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @12:22AM (#4535461) Journal
    Well if you look at the font fiascos in recent distributions and desktops (I am speaking of Mandrake 9.0 -- and from what I have heard RedHat), then you end up having about 5000 fonts and each application you run can use about 10 of them. So you end up with some applications able to use some fonts , and other applications able to see others. Depending on what type of app or window manager you are running -- you see a variety of "effects" that may or may not resemble AA. Gtk 1.x apps see some fonts, Gtk 2.x apps see others, QT sees others AND PLEASE don't even get me started on font sizes, most apps just asumme that size 12 is about all they want to use, and some gtk apps occasionally start up with a nice 72 point font staring back at you for some crazy reason or another -- Xfontsel can see a bunch of them but in itself does not do much. (to me it just looks like multiple levels of blur.)

    I bet one could write a book with a chapter on each different method for displaying fonts in these new distributions. And if you want to get really confused you can look at the 7 or 8 different font configuration files used to put this clusterfuck together. Whatever happened to the good old days where I could just run XFSTT on a port and get all of my TT fonts pretty much the same as in Windows -- and this was even before XFree 4. With the advent of XFS and XFree 4 we got some primitive looking Jaggy things that "claimed" to be our TT fonts -- but at least where I was standing you could not pick them out from a lineup.

    I still don't see how we are any better off in the "font world" than we were 4 years ago -- it seems that each toolkit has just decided to try to invent there own ways to render fonts.. Crazy -- Crazy -- Crazy.
  • purty (Score:2, Funny)

    by Laplace ( 143876 )
    Making things look purty is always good.

    Unless it's the layout and color scheme of Slashdot.

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