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View Full Version : Linux fonts are still poor



jpneal
July 28th, 2006, 04:33 PM
I have just installed Vista, and I have to say that the fonts are far superior to any linux distribution I have used, and are even an improvement over Windows XP.

I have seen some posts that say Linux fonts are better than Windows, but I can't understand this, as on my system they are nowhere near as smooth as Cleartype on Windows XP.

I have changed anti-aliasing and hinting settings, installed MS Core Fonts, and changed the default fonts and screen resolution, and whilst the fonts are acceptable, they are still not as good as Windows.

Obviously there is more to life than fonts, but when you spend a large part of your life staring at a screen, you want it to be as pleasant an experience as possible.

I hope the fonts in Linux can be improved, as I would very much prefer to use Ubuntu or Suse, than Vista or XP.

Adamant1988
July 28th, 2006, 04:38 PM
hrmm... I'm staring at my screen right now and I don't see a problem with my fonts. OH and I'm using Ubuntu too!

So wait.. the fact that our fonts aren't necessarily as good as those of Windows Vista (which is designed to be graphically inclined to start with) means that our fonts need improving? There is no problem with our fonts, they're readable right? So if Fonts are such a killer thing for you feel free to use Vista.

No one here is going to flame or insult you for using vista anyway... and if you WANT to use Ubuntu or Suse, don't let the fonts stop you... personally I think they're a great trade off for not having viruses- anymore.

Personally I'd prefer to see improvement in Multimedia, drivers, and wireless before we start worrying about things like fonts anyway...

just IMO.

Johnsie
July 28th, 2006, 04:39 PM
I find the Linux fonts a bit hard on the eyes too. In fact, since switching to Linux I've had to start wearing my reading glasses more because the computer hurts my eyes more.

T700
July 28th, 2006, 04:40 PM
No need for such a sarcastic response. The original poster simply stated his/her opinion.

Personally, I'm quite happy with the fonts in Ubuntu and find them considerably better than the rather jagged ones in XP on my wife's laptop. Your mileage may vary.

Paul

Brunellus
July 28th, 2006, 04:43 PM
I'll have to agree; the quality of typefaces that are presently freely-available leaves much to be desired. There's a definite gulf between what you can get off the repos and then having to pay the big bucks to typefoundries (what an anachronistic name!) to get nice type.

That said, I've never been much of a fan of Times New Roman, which seems to have taken over the earth.

prash@linuxitarian
July 28th, 2006, 04:49 PM
Have you tried fedora core 5 on an nvidia card, the fonts are indeed better than M$ XP!

slimdog360
July 28th, 2006, 04:57 PM
another thread for aysiu's list.

Brunellus
July 28th, 2006, 05:30 PM
you know, on second thought: I just got through with a rather...interesting...ubuntu install on an old laptop. I installed the base system successfully, even got networking--and I was so pleased I hopped onto #ubuntuforums using a freshly apt-got irssi-text to talk about it.

And then it struck me--as much as I hate fixed-width typefaces, my console font was an order of magnitude easier on my eyes than anything I'd been using in X.

Lord Illidan
July 28th, 2006, 05:32 PM
Fedora core 5 fonts are indeed nicer than Ubuntu's...what's up?

kabus
July 28th, 2006, 05:39 PM
another thread for aysiu's list.

No, this isn't an ill-informed whine, Linux fonts are rarely optimal out of the box.
After adjusting them a bit to your setup/taste they can easily look better than WinXP defaults, though.

Biltong (Dee)
July 28th, 2006, 05:56 PM
...That said, I've never been much of a fan of Times New Roman, which seems to have taken over the earth.

Never a truer word said =D>

Nonno Bassotto
July 28th, 2006, 06:54 PM
Have you tried this (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=180647)? After installing those new packages my font look waaaaaay better than in XP with cleartype. I didn't try Vista, so I can't compare, but I'm really happy with my fonts.

Shay Stephens
July 28th, 2006, 07:20 PM
I don't have a problem with the way the fonts look in Ubuntu, but I am a bit curious as to why there are about a *trillion* arial knock-offs in the font list. Seems a wee bit redundant ;-)

Visceral Monkey
July 30th, 2006, 07:08 AM
It's something to do with ubuntu. I've tried other linux distros and the fonts actually looked *better* than in xp. However, Ubuntu's handling of fonts is very, very poor. I'm not sure what the problem is but the quality is simply bad. I've tried everything, installed ms core fonts, you name it, and the font quality doesnt measure up. It's my main grip about Ubuntu to be honest.

tsb
July 30th, 2006, 08:25 AM
English fonts are great on many distros IMO, but Asian fonts still are far behind their Windows counterparts in most cases IMO. With much of the world using Chinese you'd think it would be a highr priority. I know lots of Chinese users that simply refuse to use Linux because the fonts and input methods are lacking.

aysiu
July 30th, 2006, 08:33 AM
Am I the only one who doesn't see one as being "poorer" than the other? They look equally good/bad to me. Maybe I don't have a discerning enough eye.

der_joachim
July 30th, 2006, 09:17 AM
To be honest, the new layout of this forum looked horrible to me. The fonts were utterly unreadable, until I tweaked the Nvidia-driver a bit. In the "Device" section, I added the following two lines:


Option "UseEdidDpi" "FALSE"
Option "DPI" "96 x 96"

and I had the prettiest fonts ever. As far as I know, these options are Nvidia-only. The OP may give it a try.

tseliot
July 30th, 2006, 11:06 AM
Am I the only one who doesn't see one as being "poorer" than the other? They look equally good/bad to me. Maybe I don't have a discerning enough eye.

I can't notice any difference too.

Derek Djons
July 30th, 2006, 11:11 AM
Fonts don't interest me as much as other features but I have to say I find them neutral in Ubuntu Linux. I'm on a resolution of 1400x1050 and the fonts are sharp and very workable.

Since Windows XP and then the following of Media Center and Mac OS X, suddenly fonts are an issue. Of course for Microsoft and Apple, who compete in the Digital (Home) Lifestyle it's all about eye-candy and appeal.

der_joachim
July 30th, 2006, 03:21 PM
Quick, semi-ontopic anecdote: a few months ago, I was given permission to install linux on my laptop at work. I installed an old version of Kubuntu on it and my boss, who was watching was immediately enthusiastic about the automatic antialiassing of the fonts in the browser window. I was actually quite stunned to find out that XP did not apparantly support AA fonts.

El Guapo
July 31st, 2006, 06:09 AM
I have to agree with this post. The fonts in Linux (at least Ubuntu) are less than desirable. It is a sore spot with a few of my home users and is a sticky enough point that they want to switch back to Windows...

bruenig
July 31st, 2006, 06:17 AM
What constitutes a good font? I actually did like the linux fonts more when I switched but perhaps that is a result of my being bored with windows. I can read it and never have I once thought they were tricked up or ugly.

Seems too much of an preference based thread to be resolved in any real way.

Brunellus
July 31st, 2006, 03:31 PM
There are two issues here: font RENDERING, which is a technical question, and actualy TYPOGRAPHY, which is a stylistic one.

I really haven't got any problems with either system's rendering, but I do have issues with the design of type on both systems. It doesn't bug me enough to rant about it, and solutions do exist. only trouble is that they're copyrighted fonts, and getting them from commercial typefoundries is very expensive.

For my hard-copy needs, I've found myself really liking the output from LyX.

hogweed
August 1st, 2006, 01:36 AM
Odd. On both my computers (a Dell laptop and a Dell desktop) the fonts in Kubuntu seem much sharper and better defined than those in XP. In fact, I find the fonts in XP kind of hard to read because of what seems like lower contrast.

-- hogweed

GuitarHero
August 1st, 2006, 03:35 AM
The typography and rendering are much better for me in ubuntu than xp.

NobodySpecial
August 1st, 2006, 03:49 AM
My Ubuntu fonts are gorgeous. FAR better than windows. If your Linux fonts don't look beautiful, you haven't configured something right.

If you do this command:

xdpyinfo |grep resolution -A 1 -B 1
Do you get at least 96 x 96?

Also, did you put the hidden file in your home directory labeled ".fonts.conf" that contains:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
<fontconfig>
<match target="font">
<edit name="autohint" mode="assign">
<bool>true</bool>
</edit>
</match>
</fontconfig>


jpneal - please let us know if this works for you.

Mike Tomasello
August 1st, 2006, 03:54 AM
I think I prefer Ubuntu's standard font styles/AA to Windows XP (that said, when you actually turn ClearType on [it's amazing how many people don't know it even exists!] XP is much better in that respect). When I installed the MS fonts onto Ubuntu, many web-sites switched back to the MS ones and I frankly find it worse to read.

Vista, on the other hand, is another matter. MS seem to have completely overhauled the standard set of fonts, and I much prefer them to anything I've seen on any other system. Segoe UI is a particular favourite of mine (it's sort of a cross between Trebuchet MS and Tahoma, two of my favourite MS fonts :)), they look absolutely hideous without anti-aliasing though.

jpneal
August 1st, 2006, 09:46 AM
In my original post, I was referring to the rendering of fonts, rather than the choice of fonts available.

I think the problem must be related to hardware detection or configuration.

I've installed Kubuntu on another system, and the fonts actually look pretty good. The output from "xdpyinfo |grep resolution -A 1" on the good system are as follows:-
resolution: 86x84 dots per inch
depths (7): 24, 1, 4, 8, 15, 16, 32

I'll try to post the output and some screenshots from the original system, later today.

asimon
August 1st, 2006, 10:16 AM
If you do this command:

xdpyinfo |grep resolution -A 1 -B 1
Do you get at least 96 x 96?

Gnome uses exactly this fixed resolution setting. I prefer (default in KDE) to use the actual resolution of my display. If I change the settings to the artifical 96x96 (for example using Gnome's default) the fonts look not as good as when I use the real resolution setting. YMMV.

Christmas
August 1st, 2006, 01:53 PM
I'm on 1280x1024 and the default Kubuntu fonts look pretty good, though I have some small problems with the sizes sometimes, in most KDE apps the menus fonts and the fonts in the application's window don't look quite proportional. I don't know how they are called, but I love fonts that are equally in horizontal size, like Courier 10 Pitch, they are best for programming/scripting. However they don't seem to be appropiate for general use.

BoyOfDestiny
August 1st, 2006, 02:02 PM
I don't know how they are called, but I love fonts that are equally in horizontal size, like Courier 10 Pitch, they are best for programming/scripting.

monospace or fixedwidth fonts. :)

jpneal
August 1st, 2006, 03:51 PM
Here are some screenshots. The first is Windows XP, the second is Ubuntu, and the third is another page in Ubuntu.

Typing "xdpyinfo |grep resolution -A 1 -B 1" gives the following:
dimensions: 1280x1024 pixels (433x347 millimeters)
resolution: 75x75 dots per inch
depths (7): 24, 1, 4, 8, 15, 16, 32

Brunellus
August 1st, 2006, 04:04 PM
monospace or fixedwidth fonts. :)
God, I hate monospaced type with a passion. The ONLY excuse for it is in a place where whitespace/tabs are critical to syntax or meaning--coding--or when you can't use anything else (like, say, a terminal).

Otherwise, yuk.

NobodySpecial
August 1st, 2006, 04:29 PM
jpneal - You should be able to have at least 96 x 96.

Try adding this to your /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Under: Section "Monitor"

DisplaySize 338 254 # 1280x960 96dpi

Also, did you set up the following two files:
1. .fonts.conf
2. /etc/fonts/local.conf

HanZo
August 1st, 2006, 04:42 PM
Hmm... I think the difference is really really small. to me fonts in Ubuntu always looked better... they are for sure better from the typographic point of view (Microsoft alway was good in finding the worst graphic designers for their products). There are some small details I find really good in Ubuntu/gnome... fonts on the desktop don't have that horrible black cloud around like in win xp with cleartype turned on... the only thing I noticed is that on a standard install of Ubuntu firefox would do some strange things with fonts... it renders them not as smoothly as on windows... but that's all.

jpneal
August 1st, 2006, 09:08 PM
In reply to 'NobodySpecial', I have tried these, and this has made the fonts finer, but they still aren't as smooth as they should be.

Ubuntu seems to handle fonts better than Suse. In Ubuntu, the problem is only noticeable when MS Core Fonts are installed, whereas in Suse and even SLED, the fonts look terrible when first installed (on my system anyway). Even the fonts for the system menus are distorted.

As a short-term fix, can anyone post instructions on how to remove MS Core Fonts?

giuliastro
August 1st, 2006, 10:01 PM
jpneal - You should be able to have at least 96 x 96.

Try adding this to your /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Under: Section "Monitor"

DisplaySize 338 254 # 1280x960 96dpi

Also, did you set up the following two files:
1. .fonts.conf
2. /etc/fonts/local.conf


I can't seem to be able to reach 96dpi. I am using TwinView. Here's what I get:

giulio@yashmak:~$ xdpyinfo |grep resolution -A 1 -B 1
dimensions: 2560x1024 pixels (765x302 millimeters)
resolution: 85x86 dots per inch
depths (7): 24, 1, 4, 8, 15, 16, 32

In my xorg.conf I tried both:

# DisplaySize 338 270 # 1280x1024 96dpi
DisplaySize 676 270 # 2560x1024 96dpi
and correctly modified .fonts.conf and /etc/fonts/local.conf

Weird thing is that I am using Gnome and Font's setting is 96dpi.. Any ideas?

ahaslam
August 1st, 2006, 11:58 PM
Am I the only one who doesn't see one as being "poorer" than the other? They look equally good/bad to me. Maybe I don't have a discerning enough eye.

To me, the Ubuntu fonts actually look beter ;)

Tony.

giuliastro
August 2nd, 2006, 08:18 AM
Ok, I made it, I just needed to comment out DisplaySize and to add this line:

Option "DPI" "96 x 96"

Anyway, I have to agree to the subject of this thread. I pretty much tried anything, but fonts still don't look as good as they do in a Mac or Windows.
I know, we can survive with this, but still.. with XGL/Compiz we did HUGE steps forward on desktop eye candy, what is left is a better working font rendering engine.
Patched libcairo/libfreetype/libxft really do something, but still:

- Patches are for pretty old versions of the libs
- The results are not perfect

Also, the font rendering engine depends on screen size, dpi, font type. You can get something nice by moving all these puzzle pieces around to have a good config that suites you, but still this is pretty far away from booting into a fresh installed Vista (try it and compare the results). :(

GoA
August 2nd, 2006, 09:56 AM
Strange, I don't see any notable difference between my ubuntu, windows xp or vista fonts.

giuliastro
August 2nd, 2006, 12:55 PM
Strange, I don't see any notable difference between my ubuntu, windows xp or vista fonts.

That's a thing I noted during my researches. :)
Not everyone notices the difference as not everyone is picky about desktop looking and graphics. Most users can work and are satisfied with just a terminal and or a minimal desktop, others love when their desktop looks nice.
Some users barely notice the difference between true type and bitmap fonts..

This post is not intended for people who are happy with their fonts, but for those who wants to have a better looking desktop. For this kind of users the font rendering engine Linux uses sucks and they are able to notice the (quite big imho) difference between OSX and Windows rendering engine.

What I say is that Linux desktop made huge steps ahead lately, and what is really missing is a good font rendering engine comparable to Windows or OSX.

BoyOfDestiny: post a screenshot of your desktop/fonts and I will make you notice what you can't see.

Nonno Bassotto
August 2nd, 2006, 03:15 PM
Just to make things clear, please look at this

Before
http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/1786/before7xh.png (http://imageshack.us)

After
http://img473.imageshack.us/img473/3994/after4ql.png (http://imageshack.us)

The first image is just Ubuntu fonts out of the box. The second image is what you obtain after installing just a couple of packages (look at my signature to know how). I'm really happy with the results (I prefer it over cleartype), so can the people complaining about fonts tell if this would be good for them? This way I can understand if we have different standards or if you just have problem with fonts on your machine.
Thank you

GoA
August 2nd, 2006, 03:50 PM
That's a thing I noted during my researches. :)
Not everyone notices the difference as not everyone is picky about desktop looking and graphics. Most users can work and are satisfied with just a terminal and or a minimal desktop, others love when their desktop looks nice.
Some users barely notice the difference between true type and bitmap fonts..

This post is not intended for people who are happy with their fonts, but for those who wants to have a better looking desktop. For this kind of users the font rendering engine Linux uses sucks and they are able to notice the (quite big imho) difference between OSX and Windows rendering engine.

What I say is that Linux desktop made huge steps ahead lately, and what is really missing is a good font rendering engine comparable to Windows or OSX.

BoyOfDestiny: post a screenshot of your desktop/fonts and I will make you notice what you can't see.

Now that I removed my patceh fonts and installed the never versions of the modified packages I see that the situation got a lot worse. :D I just didn't remember how it looked before those patched.

PrimoTurbo
August 2nd, 2006, 05:18 PM
Cleartype fonts look horrible, I canít get used to them I prefer the old pixel fonts. They are so much sharper and easier to see. Ubuntu has horrible support for pixel fonts, it seems to distort them for the reason.

IYY
August 2nd, 2006, 05:23 PM
If you download the Windows fonts and copy over a few config files, Ubuntu will have 100% Windows look when it comes to fonts.

http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=208396

giuliastro
August 2nd, 2006, 05:30 PM
The first image is just Ubuntu fonts out of the box. The second image is what you obtain after installing just a couple of packages (look at my signature to know how). I'm really happy with the results (I prefer it over cleartype), so can the people complaining about fonts tell if this would be good for them? This way I can understand if we have different standards or if you just have problem with fonts on your machine.

I will show you some screenshots of these patches not being good enough with some fonts and sizes. Anyway right now the problem is that libcairo has changed a lot since patched versions and it seems to be quite hard to patch new versions.
Again, the author says he's not sure about patent issues, but there should be none. These patches, imho, should be a good point where to start some good work with the rendering engine.

red_Marvin
August 2nd, 2006, 05:36 PM
To those who don't like ubuntu fonts: Do you use flat screens?

GoA
August 2nd, 2006, 05:48 PM
I use flat screen and I don't like the default fonts.

jpneal
August 2nd, 2006, 05:53 PM
Yes, I use a flat panel screen.

giuliastro
August 2nd, 2006, 06:12 PM
If you download the Windows fonts and copy over a few config files, Ubuntu will have 100% Windows look when it comes to fonts.


To me this looks like fonts with no antialiasing.. what's the point of it?
Windows supports antialiasing and ClearType. I agree you might like ClearType or not but Windows antialiasing in my opinion is superb.

giuliastro
August 2nd, 2006, 06:12 PM
To those who don't like ubuntu fonts: Do you use flat screens?

LCD monitor here.

IYY
August 2nd, 2006, 06:31 PM
To me this looks like fonts with no antialiasing.. what's the point of it?
Windows supports antialiasing and ClearType. I agree you might like ClearType or not but Windows antialiasing in my opinion is superb.

This is what Windows looks like by default, and what 80% of people complaining about Ubuntu fonts want to see. I like it because it's sharper.

Brunellus
August 3rd, 2006, 07:49 PM
this thread finally got me to turn on cleartype at my office computer.

My first impression was: Gee, that's almost as nice as my ubuntu desktop at home.

beinfant
August 6th, 2006, 02:19 PM
English fonts are great on many distros IMO, but Asian fonts still are far behind their Windows counterparts in most cases IMO. With much of the world using Chinese you'd think it would be a highr priority. I know lots of Chinese users that simply refuse to use Linux because the fonts and input methods are lacking.

I totally agree with you. The default looking of chinese in ubuntu is really sick and distorted. But I think it will take years when we get a acceptable free font developed by open source world. The number of high-level linux users in China is much lesser than those in English world. It is a pity that computer was invented by english speakers although binary was originated from antient China.

mips
August 6th, 2006, 03:52 PM
http://moosy.blogspot.com/2005/05/why-windows-fonts-look-better.html
http://moosy.blogspot.com/2005/03/what-font.html
now read this http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Font-HOWTO/