[Frugalware-devel] What makes Frugalware's font (support) so crisp?

James Buren ryuo at frugalware.org
Tue Feb 15 00:46:18 CET 2011

> I love having crisp fonts on Linux. By "crisp" I mean that there are
> no rough edges, that all strokes are the same thickness and all text
> is easily able to be read. I recently tried another Linux distribution
> (please, no flaming :P ) and found that the fonts simply didn't look
> good at all. The edges were quite rough and some strokes were quite
> thin. That distribution is using an kernel and X versions. My
> configuration is that I am using an Intel video chipset on a laptop
> with (of course) and LCD screen.
> What is it that makes fonts look so good under Frugalware? From my
> experience they look perhaps a *little* better under GNOME than Xfce
> but that may be my imagination. If I recall correctly, ryuo wrote a
> patch which was intended to improve the appearance of fonts on LCD.
> I'm curious as to what combination makes fonts look good. I have
> struggled for years to understand how fonts work under Linux and
> failed so far.

Many things effect fonts. There may be manual fontconfig options that
change how a particular distribution's fonts look. But here are some
things to consider:

1) Change font hinting. (none,slight,medium,full)

>From experience, slight hinting seems to be the most popular.
GNOME, Xfce let you change this. Not sure on KDE.

2) Change lcd filter.

Doesn't usually change anything. It only makes noticeable difference if
you have ubuntu LCD patches. Only GNOME is known to have an option for

3) Change DPI.

Affects overall font size. May or may not help, but I always use 96.

4) Enable anti-aliasing.

Big deal. Should be used with all the other fancy font features. Has no
effect on bitmap fonts.

5) Change subpixel filter.

This should match your monitor's natural color order. Usually RGB is the
one to use, but choose whichever produces the best looking fonts for you.

6) Change the default fonts used for Sans, Sans Serif, Monospace.

Possibly the problem could also be you have an ugly set of fonts
fontconfig is defaulting to.

7) If all else fails...

Some applications do not use native font rendering (Xft/Cairo & Pango). In
this case, fontconfig will likely have no effect. Examples are
applications built using java and swing, and ones using the older X font

If I find you on IRC, I could try a step by step walkthrough for finding
the problem.

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