linux fonts

One of the more irritating things in linux is trying to get your fonts ‘just right’. If I look at an OS X or Windows desktop the fonts always look great. Obviously some executives involved in these operating systems thought it was a reasonably good idea not to present users with crappy looking fonts. If I look at various linux distros, some distro’s have fonts good out of the box, other’s seem to have some apps with good fonts and some with bad. By bad I mean ‘slightly blurry’. They’re readable, but they don’t look right. You look at the font on your nice LCD monitor and you find some characters are more blurry than others.

So of course you google for info on fixing your fonts and find a zillion articles about the very topic. A typical one is the fonts wiki notes for Archlinux . I found myself reading this the other day as I installed Archlinux in a seperate partition on my T42. It lists a bunch of recommendations to put in your .fonts.conf relating to ‘hinting’ and other things that you probably don’t care about (eg. the patent thing about the bytecode interpreter) … since you just want your bloody fonts to look better. I already had a .fonts.conf that I was using on Slackware, so I used the same one on Archlinux. Of course the fonts looked quite different under Archlinux. If anything they actually looked better, but its still a puzzle why fonts can be so different across linux distros.

I ended up switching back to Slackware for the time being (I could not get ‘expect’ to work without segfaulting on Archlinux … but I’m sure thats a feature). One program I use a lot is mrxvt (a tabbed terminal). It has freetype font support and I usually use ‘Bitstream Vera Sans Mono’ as a font and am generally happy … but I know it looks a little blurry. Usually I invoke it like;

mrxvt -ls -xftfn ‘Bitstream Vera Sans Mono’

S o I tried playing with options and noticed that the following gets rid of my blurriness;

mrxvt -ls -xftfn ‘Bitstream Vera Sans Mono’ -xftht

So now I’m moderately happy. If only I could now get textmaker and planmaker to have less blurry fonts, I would not be considering getting a Macbook. 😉