Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 26th Jan 2007 15:00 UTC, submitted by editingwhiz
Linux "The OSDL's Desktop Linux Working Group has published its first year-end report on the state of the overall desktop Linux ecosystem. The report provides insight into the year's key accomplishments in terms of functionality, standards, applications, distributions, market penetration, and more."
Thread beginning with comment 206364
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Invincible Cow
Member since:

> I'm getting tired of that lame excuse.
It's not a lame excuse, I want to be able to read what's on screen, I don't see how that is lame.

> Font rendering have been beautiful on Linux for more than 3 years.
Absolutely not true. The default settings looks reasonably ok, but the fonts are WAY too large. And on sensible sizes the fonts gets mushy and unreadable.
See this screenshot from Windows (Opera):
Compare it with this screenshot from Fedora Core 6 (Firefox):

Completely honestly, do you think that is acceptable? On Ubuntu it's much worse. Larger fonts are of course very good looking, but I don't want a menu font with size 12, that's just insane.

Apart from the problem that sensible font sizes looks like crap Firefox also picks the _wrong_ sizes. Of the same font, the small version is too small compared to Windows/Mac and the large version is too large. Setting the font size obviously doesn't help since that makes the smallest even smaller or largest larger as well.

Edit: Just so you don't blame it on Firefox, I'm not bothering to put up a screenshot of Firefox under Windows since it can't be distinguished from Opera's rendering.

Edited 2007-01-27 12:13

Reply Parent Score: 1

Moulinneuf Member since:

0) in Firefox press CTRL and + or - ( or use the scroll wheel )

1) Witch version of Ubuntu you got ? latest is 6.10 The Edgy Eft

2) you installed ? :

3) you tried ? :

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts

sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig
--> Choose "Autohinter" (and enable subpixel rendering if you have a LCD monitor).




I hope it helps , if it don't , either you are lying or you are a complete moron. Pick a suitable answer ;) ( V2 changelog added "I hope it helps ," V1 author dylansmrjones )

Reply Parent Score: 2

Invincible Cow Member since:

> 0) in Firefox press CTRL and + or - ( or use the scroll wheel )
That doesn't change the fact that:
- Small fonts are mushy (see my screenshot)
- The difference between font size 8 and font size 12 is too large

> 1) Witch version of Ubuntu you got ? latest is 6.10 The Edgy Eft
The screenshot is from Fedora Core 6. I have tried Ubuntu 5.10, 6.06 and 6.10 and didn't notice any difference between them.

> 2) you installed ? : 3) you tried ? : 4) 6)
1) I shouldn't have to do anything to get readable fonts out of the box.
2) I have enabled subpixel hinting in Ubuntu
3) Can you explain why OpenOffice ignores the settings for (subpixel) hinting?

> 5)
No matter what I set, that settings gives a sort of relative font size. It doesn't solve the problem with small font sizes beeing too large IN COMPARISION TO the large font sizes.

> either you are lying or you are a complete moron
Well, you saw my screenshot. Go to to see where I took it.

Either some people here are lying or they use font size 16 only, or they are completely blind.

HOWTO: Hoary ClearType-like fonts (
That is supposed to make fonts pretty like on Windows, but look at the results:
Screenshot from Windows:
Screenshot from Linux:
Note how the largest fonts are larger than on Windows, but the smallest fonts are smaller than on Windows?!?!
Also, see how the antialiasing is much more visible on Linux. And this is supposed to AFTER it is fixed.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Moochman Member since:

That's Microsoft's sub-pixel font rendering (known as ClearType) at work. More info on the technology behind it here:

Unfortunately, they patented it. Even Apple has to resort to using "traditional" anti-aliasing in Mac OS X, which looks significantly less sharp. Meanwhile, Apple also has patents on their technology that make Linux even more limited in what it can do:

However, apparently there are workarounds:
(this one enables sub-pixel rendering)

The other thing I noticed about your screenshot from Fedora Core 6 is that, even though traditional anti-aliasing seems to be present, the font kerning on whatever font that is sucks. In that case, you probably just need to install a better font. (For instance Microsoft's core web fonts.) The renderer itself shouldn't be blamed for a poor choice of fonts in your distro.

But it's true, we also shouldn't have to depend on MS for our fonts. This is something that is constantly improving. For example:

And of course it's also true we shouldn't have to hack the system as shown above just to get things like sub-pixel rendering. For that you can blame Microsoft and Apple and their patent-loving mentalities.

Reply Parent Score: 3

cerbie Member since:

Do you have a URL for the/a page/website, for comparison? That FC6 shot does look ugly, in fact unacceptably so. But, it's FC, which is anything but a nice desktop distro out of the box. I'd like to be able to make apples-to-apples live CD comparisons, then directing you to another distro, rather than calling you a moron.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Invincible Cow Member since:

You can go to to see where I got the screenshot from.

I now installed additional fonts with easyubuntu. That caused the font here on osnews to get very bad, but the font on google now looks beatiful.

Here is a screenshot of how it looks on Ubuntu after I installed the additional fonts (which shouldn't have to be done):
Apart from the overall below-par kerning there are some unacceptable things going on: A line on the k is almost disappeared, all the y's looks mushy and all r's looks like an i with its dot falled down on its right side. No font settings was changed from the default Ubuntu installation.
The screenshots from the previous post for comaprision:
I now saw that the W is also dreadfully rendered on Ubuntu, but there isn't any W on the screenshot.

> Choose a better font then.
What I'm saying is that as long as the user has to manually select a better font to get a non-mushy one, Linux isn't ready for the desktop.

> > Either some people here are lying or they use font size 16 only, or they are completely blind.
> My minimum font size is set to 8.
Since Firefox is the only place I know where you can select a "minimum font size", I presume you mean in Firefox. The problem is, that the lowest number in the drop-down menu for minimum font size is 9. Should I conclude with my scenario number one (lying) or scenario 3 (blind)?

> > I shouldn't have to do anything to get readable fonts out of the box.
> You don't. You can get OSX-quality fonts by enabling anti-aliasing *and* turning off hinting.
If I have to enable antialiasing and turning off hinting, then I have to DO something, right?

> your X server is probably misconfigured and using Type-1 bitmaps instead.
If the X server is misconfigured out of the box on the world's most popular distro, then Linux isn't ready for the desktop.

Fonts are either too large on some pages and correct on others:
Or they are correct on some pages and too small on thoers:

Since Windows and Mac manages to use about the same sizes, surely Linux can't be "correct" in the sense that it displays fonts they way the designers wants them to look.

And, as I said earlier, it's not only about the fonts themselves, the font sizes are also inconsistent:

Have a look at the screenshot of GDM:
1. Why on earth does the text field use that miniature font?
2. That last letter (in the text field) is a c, right? Would you believe it if I told you it's actually an o? Sure you would believe me if I said that, but it's actually ... a d! Change any of the four preceding letters and the caret will not be rendered over the stem of the d any more. Write "rond" and the caret will overlap the d. Every time. That's the font renderer of "the most beautiful desktop ever".

Reply Parent Score: 2

Invincible Cow Member since:

I now managed to get the individual characters look very good and readable with the Bitstream fonts and Autohinting. Unfortunately:
1) The kerning is worse than with autohinting off, some letters look like they are married, while others have an ocean of space in between them.
2) If I have to use the console and install extra files to get readable fonts, Linux is not ready for the desktop.

Reply Parent Score: 1

rayiner Member since:

Fedora Core 6's fonts in Firefox are really broken out of the box, I don't know why. Try Epiphany, as it'll try to use the standard GNOME font selection paths.

However, in general it will be larger and mushier, because FreeType just tends towards softer, more accurate rendering (like OS X). The instance on "one pixel thick size 8 fonts" is really derived from being accustomed to Windows. GNOME and OS X actually have the same size UI font, with GNOME being 10pt at 96dpi and OS X being 13pt at 72dpi. Both are far more reasonable than the eye-strain inducing 8pt at 96dpi that Windows uses.

Reply Parent Score: 2