Have you ever noticed what a royal pain in the ass it is to get fonts working on Linux that do not look like complete crap? On Windows it's a non-issue. On Mac OS X it's all quite amazing out of the box. But for some reason, having the X Window System on your desktop means that fonts must suck.

Here's a great example--a web browser. I want web pages to look decent on my Linux box. It's not asking a lot, is it? They don't have to look exactly as the "designer" intended, just nice. I have all high-resolution LCD displays at home. I run relatively modern graphics cards (or chipsets in the case of the notebooks) and nearly the latest release of X. Yet it's still a complete mystery to me.


Let's start with the latest release of the Mozilla Firebird browser (not the database). I installed it recently on my notebook (and IBM ThinkPad T21 running the latest Knoppix, which is based on Debian). Go ahead, click the little thumbnail image to see what I see on my screen when reading my blog with Firebird.

Notice the jagged fonts? No smooth edges here. No anti-aliasing.

I spent some time futzing around with the fonts to figure out what's wrong. And I can't figure it out. Nothing I did resulted in a dramatic improvement of the display--not that I claim to have tried everything. Though I do claim that I shouldn't have to do anything. Anyway, we'll come back to that.


Let's now look at the latest version of Mozilla on the same machine (the IBM ThinkPad T21 running the latest Knoppix), with the same blog screen, at the same resolution and window size. Go ahead, click the little thumbnail image to see what I see on my screen when reading my blog with Mozilla.

Nice, isn't it? The fonts are crisp and clear. There are no jagged edges. On my LCD screen it looks very, very good.

Digging Deeper: Firebird

Okay, here's where it gets really mysterious. Let's think briefly about what's going on... I'm using two browsers that use the same underlying rendering engine (Mozilla's Gecko), yet they're showing me radically different things.

"Ah..." you say, "Firebird must simply have different default fonts configured. That's what I thought. So I pulled up the little font configuration window (click the image on the left to see what I saw).

Notice that funny looking font names? My default serif font is something called adobe-times-iso8859-1. The name's a big long-winded. One would that that Times is sufficient, but it's not a crisis.

The display resolution setting didn't help either. I'm not sure why the application needs to know what my display resolution is. Furthermore, I'm not sure why it doesn't simply ask the system. It seems to, by default, so I'm not sure why I'm being offered a choice. Is there a reason that I'd want to run one application at 72dpi while the others all run at 100dpi? I don't think I've ever needed to do that.

Unfortunately, I found no check box marked "Use crappy fonts only" that I could toggle. So I turned my attention back to Mozilla.

Digging Deeper: Mozilla

Mozilla, of course, also has a font configuration tool. So I launched it to see what it had to offer (click the image on the left to see what I saw).

Hmm. It looks remarkably similar. The only real difference I noticed is that the font names were different in two important ways. First, the names look like they were designed to be read by humans--like you'd see on a Mac: Courier, Times, Century Schoolbook, and so on. Secondly, the font names didn't seem to be related to those I could choose from in Firebird.

From this I concluded that the two applications were using different sets of fonts, one set crappy and one set nice.

Konqueror: Sanity Check

Not sure what to do next, I tried one last sanity check. I launched Konqueror, the browser built by the KDE folks. Guess what. It muddied the waters even more!

Konqueror makes my blog look crappy too, just like Firebird. However, when I view the font choices, they match those offered by Mozilla. I didn't bother with screen shots this time. It's too depressing.

The Burning Question

Having seen what I've seen so far, I'm really left with one burning question: What the hell is going on with my fonts?!?!?

Why do these two applications use completely different fonts? And why does a third, using the same as the second, render things more like the first? I cannot figure out how to get Firebird to use the set of fonts that Mozilla is using. I can not figure out how to get Konqueror to render like Mozilla even though it seems to be using the same fonts. Hell, I'm not even sure where the applications look to figure out what fonts are available.

On any other operating system, I'd expect all apps to have access to all fonts. Fonts are one of those "core services" that the GUI desktop framework ought to provide--to all applications.

Am I smoking something here? Am I expecting too much?

Can anyone explain what I've done wrong? I have to believe that it's something I did. What sort of self-respecting Open Source hackers would do this?

I give up.


Linux is not ready for the desktop.

Why not? Fonts, that's why.

Posted by jzawodn at June 06, 2003 01:22 AM

Reader Comments
# wil said:

Damn right. I could not possibly being to put into words how much I agree with you. It's so *damned* frustrating. And what's more frustrating is that there is probably 197 sourceforge projects trying to make linux fonts nice, instead of the OSS guys actually knocking their heads together and produce one decent 100% working result.

on June 6, 2003 03:11 AM
# Sander van Zoest said:


Did you follow these instructions?


They help a ton. And setting up TrueType fonts in
XFree86 4.0 is even easier.

on June 6, 2003 03:15 AM
# martin said:

Get XFT builds in order to have decent fonts. XFT will be enabled by default in the future.


on June 6, 2003 03:22 AM
# Brad Fitzpatrick said:

The difference is XFT and Fontconfig. XFT makes fonts pretty. Fontconfig makes font matching/nameing sane.

Both are somewhat new, so they're not always enabled. Why it isn't enabled at run-time is beyond me, though. Very stupid, agreed.

on June 6, 2003 03:35 AM
# Babu said:

This used to be a issue *before* Xft. I use Xft builds of FireBird and I've concluded Windows is not ready for desktop use yet :-) I started using Bitstream Vera fonts as standard fonts (http://www.gnome.org/fonts/) - haven't booted into WinXP for 3 months now on my home machine.

on June 6, 2003 03:46 AM
# Babu said:

BTW, I'm not a linux or OSS-only hard core proponent. Got so sick of my Win98 crashing and WinXP getting service-packed and virused that I started using Mandrake Linux for my desktop. No more BSOD that even my wife has mostly switched to Linux - also, both of us love virtual desktops.

on June 6, 2003 03:49 AM
# Jan Alonzo said:

This image is how your site looks like in Mozilla 1.4a with xft enabled.


on June 6, 2003 05:01 AM
# BDKR said:

I think it is ready for the desktop. The fact that I can get tons of work done in an environment that is pleasing
to me is good enough.

However, I'm sure this depends on what crowd or people we're talking about. The learning curve for the average user coming from Windows is far too great. I wonder if much of the squawk we hear on the net about the issues with Linux and the desktop are being put out by frustrated people using Windows as a point of reference.(I know that doesn't include you J). Don't you allways hear them saying, "In Windows, I can do this"? At least nobody here said it.


on June 6, 2003 05:29 AM
# milbertus said:

One thing I'm noticing in all these comments is basically, "Oh, just build/install/whatever such and such, and it'll all work". I don't think that was the point he was trying to make. He was trying to say that on the other major OS's, fonts are a no-brainer. They just work, and every app has the same list of fonts as every other app.

This isn' the case on Linux, apparently. There is absolutely no reason that, by default, all these neato-spiffy font apps should be enabled so that there will be a consistent font experience across the board. Period. End of story. To have any less, just doesn't even begin to cut it.

on June 6, 2003 05:49 AM
# Ryan said:

Hrm... there is something about your setup (I bet that Firebird hasn't been setup to do Xft). Under FreeBSD 5.1-Current with Mozilla (1.3.0) and Konqueror (3.1.2), I've got smooth anti-aliased fonts. I think the biggest thing is to make sure that your application has been setup with Xft support (usually --enable-xft in mozilla) and it does help to have a recent build of XFree86 (4.3.0 I've had no problems with under Debian/Red Hat/FreeBSD).

on June 6, 2003 06:10 AM
# Jason Lotito said:

I wrote about this very thing not to long ago, though I found the solution.


on June 6, 2003 06:35 AM
# Jason Lotito said:

I just read your "Burning Question" part, and your "Conclusion", and I must say, I think your completely wrong. Linux isn't ready for the desktop? I for one don't think Linux is read for the desktop, but their are certain distrobutions which are ready.

I take a look at my current desktop, and I have nice, anti-aliased font's in my browser, and in my applications. It simply works, and it didn't take much to get it to work (it was on by default). When I installed by distrobution, it just worked. I can remember having to turn on anti-alias fonts in Windows though (Win2k I believe).

I opened up my Konqueror, and behold, your site looks fine. Granted, the font is a bit bigger, but that's just a problem with any browser on any system, they always look different.

I can understand you my be frustrated, but saying Linux isn't ready for the desktop is like me saying Databases aren't ready for use. At least give us the pleasure of knowing with distrobution and version you are using. That at least would clarify things. I mean, you go into bashing X and Linux, asking things that, well, were pretty simple (or default) for me when I installed Linux on my system.

Maybe, just maybe, your distrobution isn't ready for the desktop?

on June 6, 2003 06:46 AM
# Jackson Fox said:

It is a pain. Fortunately, more distros are coming with nice fonts out of the box these days. RedHat 8+, Debian unstable, and I assume Mandrake all use fontconfig, xft, and the latest font doodads to anti-alias fonts and provide truetype support in KDE 3+ and Gnome 2+. Grab the xft enabled Moz builds and things should lok a LOT better.

Unfortunately, installing NEW fonts is still something of a mystery to me. Fortunately, Debian has a ton of decent fonts (like the MS Core Fonts and the Vera fonts) available as packages.

on June 6, 2003 08:13 AM
# Jason Lotito said:

Installing Fonts via KDE (at least in SuSE) is easy. In the KDE Control Center, System Administration, Font Installer.

Found this in 10 seconds. Just opened up the SuSE Linux User Guide book that comes in the boxed version, and looked in the Index for Fonts, section installing, and it exaplains where it is.

I just added the fonts I want (in Administrator mode), and activated them. They were then working in all my programs. I now have 1000+ different fonts installed on my system (not that I need that many =) ) I am by no means wanting to sound like a fanboy (there are still several things that bug me), but just recounting how easy it is. Just because a Linux distro makes it difficult doesn't mean it has to be.

on June 6, 2003 08:25 AM
# anders said:

i agree that fonts should just work out of the box. this seems to be the case with gentoo. i've nevered twiddled any setting even remotely related to fonts and i see everything with nice, beautiful AA fonts in Firebird.

on June 6, 2003 08:36 AM
# Goran Rakic said:

As already said, this is diference betwean fontconfig&XFT2 and XFT1. Use xlsfonts and fc-list utillities to locate a problem. Then, recompile firebird (and/or) Mozilla Gecko library to support your XFT2 and fontconfig.

on June 6, 2003 09:45 AM
# Joe Grossberg said:

I agree with milbertus.

And if you have those pretty fonts working, try printing them. Or printing anything at all.

My speakers won't work on Linux (I'm using RedHat 8). Funny; I just had to plug them in when it was a Windows NT box.

What a fscking pain.

I like Linux. Really, I do.

But ready for the unwashed masses (as opposed to the unbathed few)? Please.

For all the bitching about how Windows makes you restart when you install new software, why can't you change your screen's resolution without restarting X?

on June 6, 2003 12:04 PM
# BDKR said:

Joe, you prove my point perfectly.

"My speakers won't work on Linux (I'm using RedHat 8). Funny; I just had to plug them in when it was a Windows NT box."

Do you have any idea how hard it was/is for the the OSS (open sound) guys to get some of the card and chipset companies to provide them with the needed information to create drivers? Some of the played ball and everything was nice. Some of the others pulled the SCO routine and were snobs about it. The truth is that it's a miracle that some cards work as there was no help whatsoever from the manufacturers.

"For all the bitching about how Windows makes you restart when you install new software, why can't you change your screen's resolution without restarting X?"

"ctrl"+"alt"+"+" or "-"!

When you get right down to it, Linux has a cost of admission. Plain and simple as that! And that cost is learning and dealing with some of the rough edges. Fine, I've accepted it and paid my cost. But I got a system that's immensely more powerful then that MicroReich garbage FOR FREE! There are guys out there that are doing some hard work out there and people here are sniveling? How many people who've commented on this post are contributing to kernel.org or xfree86?

Crying shame!


on June 6, 2003 12:54 PM
# Jason Lotito said:

I could say more, but it comes down to this: Windows is as as unusable as Linux. But it's like driving on the left side of the road, your not used to it.

Everyone complaining about things here are comparing to Windows as if Windows doesn't have problems. You expect Linux to be the holy grail.

Just to make it clear, Windows prevents you from doing things out of the box. It's as simple as that. Go out and buy a Copy of Windows XP, and a copy of SuSE 8.2, and see which version allows you to create Word Doc's out of the box?


Which version doesn't need to be patched before you use email?


Which version has anti-aliased font's by default: both.

Which OS doesn't require you purchase anti-virus software?


Which version can you install on more than on computer?


Which OS doesn't require you to use the command line to install software?


Which OS doesn't require you to use the command line to install non-packaged software (like RPM's)?


Linux is just as read for the desktop as Windows is. It just does things differently. It's not more difficult to do them in Linux, it's just different.

People always say "But Joe User doens't know the command line". Hell, Joe User doens't know how to start the Internet on his computer! I have seen it first hand.

Stop suggesting that Linux isn't ready for the desktop when it's more like you aren't ready to make the switch.

Linux isn't ready for the desktop, hah! It started out as an OS for someone's personal desktop.

on June 6, 2003 02:30 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Jason said:

But it's like driving on the left side of the road, your not used to it.

I'm not used to it?!

I've been using Linux since the pre-1.0 days. I'm more than used to it. I'm just sick of the fact that my fonts suck. It doesn't need to be this damned hard.

on June 6, 2003 03:02 PM
# Jason Lotito said:

"I've been using Linux since the pre-1.0 days. I'm more than used to it. I'm just sick of the fact that my fonts suck. It doesn't need to be this damned hard."

Your right, it doesn't, and it isn't. Your rant against Linux isn't against Linux, but against whatever distro you are using. I mean, if your sitting here using Gentoo, then you deserve the frustration you are getting. If you are using SuSE or RedHat, then obviously that distrobution isn't putting in the the effort into their product that their customers demand. Again, it's a "speak with your wallet" kind of thing.

Your rant is a rant, yes. But it's still wrong. Would I be justified in saying that Linux isn't ready for embedded use, and be using Lindows to try and accomplish this? No.

Linux is just the kernel, the distrobution is the whole system. I read your blog often, and agree with most of what you say. But you rant about Linux, and never give a clue as to which distro you use.

And secondly, Firebird is still a beta product. As good as it is, and as much as well all treat it like it should be a fully released version of the software, it's still beta. I even need to remind myself of that.

And the driving comment wasn't targetted at you directly, but to the general reviewer who spews "Linux is not ready for the desktop." without a real clue. I know your standings, and I understand your skills. Still, for the problem you are having, it's really easy to solve.

on June 6, 2003 03:22 PM
# Big Guy said:

Why is Linux not ready for Desktop? My answer is X sucks.

on June 6, 2003 10:50 PM
# BDKR said:

"Why is Linux not ready for Desktop? My answer is X sucks."

Why or how? Are you saying this from the viewpoint of a developer or user? Without stating a reason for a particular stance, dont' we run the risk of our voice being considered noise?


on June 7, 2003 05:42 AM
# Dan Allen said:

Get Mandrake 9.1 which uses Xft2 and freetype2. You really have some old stuff. Yes, this use to be the case, but Linux has advanced beyond the font issue now. Find it at your nearest mirror.

on June 7, 2003 04:05 PM
# said:

Linux not only lacks good fonts (you still need to chase down Microsoft's web fonts) but it lacks a way of enforcing a user's font choices across all applications.

This is one area in which Linux's and open source's ballyhooed offering of "choices" backfires. Faced with a choice between Good Display and Bad Display, who would opt for bad?

on June 7, 2003 09:15 PM
# enloop said:

Linux not only lacks good fonts (you still need to chase down Microsoft's web fonts) but it lacks a way of enforcing a user's font choices across all applications.

This is one area in which Linux's and open source's ballyhooed offering of "choices" backfires. Faced with a choice between Good Display and Bad Display, who would opt for bad?

on June 7, 2003 09:15 PM
# Joe Grossberg said:


Just because software is free (as in beer) doesn't make it immune to fair criticism.

We can bash "MicroReich" (that's a nice illustration of a lack of perspective a.k.a. Godwin's Law) all we want, but then when someone like Jeremy points out that "It doesn't need to be this damned hard", why circle the wagons and call it "sniveling"?

Lighten up. I said I like Linux. I use it every day at work and two out of my three home boxes run it (no partitions; it's the only OS).

Are you really implying that Linux users have no right to complain unless they are software developers, and kernel or xfree86 developers at that?


on June 7, 2003 10:12 PM
# Hemo said:

Agreed. The Font debate is the biggest reason I _ever_ get frustrated with linux. Other issues such as 'Gee.. I have no word processor compatible with what my windows friends use' or 'I use quicken on windows and don't want to learn a new program' ... these are understandable, and I have no problem working around/with them.

But if the damn operating system can't display the information for me to read.. what the hell.. and why do I _have_ to follow a 'How-To' to get it working.. should it work already?

Make me wonder if all the folks working on X and the font servers are working in a text environment only or what....

on June 8, 2003 08:20 AM
# Jacob Smullyan said:

I agree that Linux needs better font tools and that X could use a considerable investment in this area, but what I find odd about this post is that I prefer the appearance of the screenshots you say look terrible. The anti-aliasing looks smeared and messy and the unaliased rendering looks crisp and legible. Am I the only one in the world with this perception/preference? I'm quite myopic, and nonetheless use a high resolution desktop, so perhaps that's the reason.

on June 8, 2003 08:22 AM
# Daniel Allen said:

This whole argument is MUTE because the discussion is purely naive! Sure you have to download microsoft core fonts because they are microsoft's and they are patented. That is just a fact of life. Besides, there are perfectly good replacements for microsofts core fonts. The KDE font installer in the KDE control panel allow you to add fonts on a PER USER basis (as well as system wide) that show up immediately in all applications. It even has a font previewer.

Most of you just seem to have overlooked the power of fonts in Linux and are referring to an old situation. Please do the research before critizing due to your own laziness.

on June 8, 2003 11:37 AM
# Steven said:

I will say this I have used just about every Distro out there and as I see it here is your option for clean and clear with standerd fonts no MS fonts needed....

1.Gentoo I dont have time for it!!!

2.Slackware not for the newbie

3.Libranet2.8 its great with a ton of programs and one click of a button any font you want you got it!!! This one will soon be up there in the top 2 Distro this is a must try!!!!!!!

4.Redhat9.0 is ok to great for newbies

on June 8, 2003 07:54 PM
# BDKR said:

Joe Grossberg:

"Just because software is free (as in beer) doesn't make it immune to fair criticism."

Well said, and I agree. However, there IS a difference between sniveling and ranting and then
saying things about which one has no idea. I never said Jeremy was and never will! My reaction was to stuff like...

"For all the bitching about how Windows makes you restart when you install new software, why can't you change your screen's resolution without restarting X?"

... which is just downright incorrect!

"Are you really implying that Linux users have no right to complain unless they are software developers, and kernel or xfree86 developers at that?"

Actually? No! However, if you're going to say something, at least make sure it's correct.

It's time for me to shut up now as in accordance with Godwin's Law (nevermind the question of it's application being in context), I've allready lost!


on June 9, 2003 05:45 AM
# Joe Grossberg said:


"... which is just downright incorrect! "

I do CTRL-ALT-+ and I have lower resolution, but I lose any windows or other apps that were near the edge of my screen, including my toolbar.

I do CTRL-ALT-"-" and it's the same effect, except much more of a "zoom".

If I use RedHat - System Settings - Display, I get a great Windows-esque dialogue box and, after making my choice, the message:

"Display settings changed.
You need to log out and restart the X server for the changes to take effect.
Configuration was written to /etc/X11/XF86Config, original configuration saved as /etc/X11/XF86Config.backup."

Perhaps it's more of a Metacity bug, than an X one, so I'll amend what I said:

In RedHat 8, there is no acceptably good way to change your resolution without restarting X.

Satisfied? :)


on June 9, 2003 09:20 AM
# Donncha said:

Hi Jeremy,

As others have mentioned already, you need to use the xft extensions to XFree. Here's a screenshot of Galeon using the new Vera fonts available from the Gnome guys. I think that Mozilla/Galeon/Firebird on RH9 (or similar modern X desktop) looks even better than MSIE..

on June 9, 2003 02:39 PM
# Mark said:

Wow, I love it! Seeing the Linux users trying to justify the pain they go through just to install fonts is better than any rerun of Seinfeld!

Guys, say what you will about the cost of Apple hardware, but at the end of the day, it's far better to shell out a few more bucks than to see if you have Xft installed, or if the software is linked against the correct library, or if your font paths are set up correctly, or if X is in the correct mode...

Unix is ready for the desktop -- you just need to get the Mac OS X distribution instead of the Red Hat, Debian, Gentoo, etc distributions.

on June 9, 2003 05:55 PM
# dave said:

Let me get this straight:

Instead of having non-aliased fonts and a crappy font selection system in one beta release of an application which you could have simply downloaded a version of with anti-aliasing compiled in, you would rather go the MS route which would involve you reinstalling your entire OS and all relevant apps to access better font technology rather than have the *option* of being able to upgrade fundamental parts of the OS incrementally.

Congratulations: Red Hat 9 and many other recent distributions fit the bill. Get busy re-installing. Hooray! This must mean Linux is ready for the desktop. Yeah! w00t!

On a more serious note I highly recommend the Bitstream Vera family of fonts available from www.gnome.org/fonts which I have even installed on my Mac OS X box because they are *that* good, particularly Vera Sans Mono.

Watch out though, installation on Linux was much harder. On Mac OS X I had to put the files into ~/Library/Fonts, on Red Hat it was ~/.fonts

on June 10, 2003 08:36 AM
# Wee said:

I don't know, man... Linux not ready for the desktop? Just because Firebird loads crap fonts? That's a pretty wide brush you've painted all of Linux with for just the one app.

I just got done using Linux all day at work and I'm back on here at home. I'll repeat that all week. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without it. Linux has been ready for the desktop for years, depending on which desktop you are talking about. Does Linux pass the Mom test? No, not yet (it's very close, though; stuff like CUPS goes a long way). Does it work for the average computer literate user? Sure. There might have to be some fiddling, but at least you don't have to pay for software if you don't want to. Hell, I remember seeing a stack of 15 Slackware floppies and seeing an adventure, though I'll concede that most people wouldn't have been similarly engaged. But I'm preaching to the Pope here...

BTW, your blog looks fine on my Red Hat 9 desktop, in both Konqueror and Opera. I've not messed with my fonts on this box at all.

on June 11, 2003 02:31 AM
# nik said:

Your font problem seems not to be a Linux problem but a Firebird problem. Your fonts look horrible using Firebird under Windows too. Look here.

on June 14, 2003 11:48 AM
# Me Myself said:

I don't konw, all my fonts look great. Your blog looks perfect on my end, anti-aliased sub-pixeled and all. Would post a screenshot if I could. I didn't do jack squat to get it this way. (just "emerge mozilla" and wait a day and a half) And I don't know jack squat about Linux.

on June 23, 2003 09:57 PM
# Nick said:

Yes, fonts suck under Linux. "Oh, you don't have XFT enabled!" WHAT THE HECK IS XFT? WHY DO YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT IT IS, AND WHY DO YOU NEED TO ENABLE IT?

If Linux was ready for the desktop, you would be able to go to Mozilla.org, download their latest browser, click on "setup", install the program, and the fonts would look great when you run it. THIS IS *NOT* THE CURRENT CASE!

The case is... Fonts suck under Linux.

on June 30, 2003 07:35 PM
# Fingolfin said:

Jeez...Linux fonts used to be crappy, until Xft, which came out in 2000 I think. I don't know why Konqueror looks bad as KDE uses Xft. Maybe you have antialiasing disabled in KDE. Maybe it is just not a font Xft will antialias. CALM DOWN. You are complaining about Firebird, which is not even stable release, and Konqueror; you have something misconfigured there. Try turning on antialiasing. The only thing that's really crappy about Linux fonts is GTK+, and Gnome 2.0. But for that, just download Gdkxft, and get the latest release of Gnome which is way better. Qt, GTK2, GTK+, and OpenOffice all can antialias text. It looks fine to me, I don't know what your problem is.

And Windos fonts "not an issue"? Puh-leez! Windoze fonts are the WORST ever, and there's no Xft to fix them either. Try looking at W2K 'Professional' and tell me how great the fonts are...

on July 13, 2003 11:05 AM
# John Levermore said:

I'm a web developer and I use both Win32/NT/Mac(Classic/OSX)/Linux. I do understand the problems being experienced with fonts on Linux, but I don't think it is anti-aliasing that you should worry about.

A great many websites use fixed sized fonts which render very small in a lot of linux web browsers. This is unusual, and a problem.

However, having fonts anti-aliasing on a webpage in windows is not possbile! The only browsers which I know of that anti-aliase fonts out of the box are the konquerer family, including Safari. MSIE doesn't do this! Check it if you don't believe me. Your blog looks very similar from my Win2000PC/IE/Moz/Opera to how it looks on you Knoppix/Firebird screenshot!



on September 23, 2003 04:36 AM
# Darryl said:

I am learning that same lesson right now. I added a 40GB hard drive for Linux and the fonts I was using in Mozilla's browser looked horrible. So, I added true type (e.g. arial, times new roman, courier new) and they too rendered horribly.

Booting to my original hard drive with Windows is like driving without the windshield wipers on, i.e., better visibility.

on September 13, 2004 03:02 PM
# Michael said:

Ok, your first problem is the Knoppix. Knoppix is not as advanced as some of the other Linux software out there. It is true (as some have commented) that Linux still has problems. For instance, you cannot play CD's well if you are using a sound card built into the motherboard (you have to have a separate sound card), and there are some other difficulties that crop up now and then, but the font issue is a version problem.

My personal favorite version of Linux is SuSE linux 9.1. Fonts work fine on everything that I have used. My advice is to use SuSE or RedHat, not Knoppix.

on November 8, 2004 07:55 PM
# Ahmad Sharif said:

I installed Mandrake Linux 10.0, and the fonts were just horrendous. I tried to make them un-ugly, but gave up after coming to the same conclusion as you, i.e. Linux isn't quite ready for the desktop because of fonts.
But recently I installed Fedora Core 3 and the fonts are pretty good (for Linux) out of the box. This is probably because the font renderer for Fedora Core is freetype 2.1.x. You can even make them better by upgrading to the 2.1.x with BCI enabled (This is copyright stuff, so tread carefully there) :).

on January 14, 2005 07:43 AM
# Michal Stankoviansky said:

I have just followed these instructions under Fedora Core 3 and I am now using Tahoma 8pt as a main GUI font...and it looks almost exactly as on Windows. It took me so long to solve this fonts issue...

Read it here:


on January 19, 2005 07:55 PM
# PlantTrees said:

At first, I was dissapointed by my Knoppix fonts.

However I went to the settings in Control Centre->Fonts and clicked on 'Anti Aliasing'.

Problem fixed.
I didn't know a computer screen was capable of such Crisp, Clear fonts.

on April 28, 2005 12:08 AM
# Alexander Toresson said:

Your Firebird is built to use GTK 1. GTK 1 does not support anti-aliased fonts.

on January 16, 2006 05:02 AM
# bovine said:

im using core4/kde 3.4 and fonts still look like butt. i stopped using core2 because of the same issue. impossible to do any serious web dev etc. its great after a fresh install. desktop looks nice, menus looks nice, browsers look nice - but if you touch the font settings at all it defaults back to 'butt' mode.

then there is nothing u can do to make it look like it did. no clicking defaults does not work whatsoever. go figure...

i just made the mistake of changing them and then rebooting and now its in butt mode. i wish i could afford a mac. apparently reading is not important in linux guis.

on February 24, 2006 01:01 AM
# John Smolin said:

Has anyone resolved the problem with firefox mentioned in the original rant? Namely that firefox "sees" different fonts than mozilla does? I still have this problem in firefox 1.5 running on Fedora Core 3. Mozilla looks great, firefox makes my eyes hurt.

on March 9, 2006 09:13 AM
# viper said:

Firefox should work well w/o any configuring -- Jeremy was referring to firebird (which has an incredibly beautiful red icon).
Check in Edit-->Preferences-->Content tab
to make sure that Default Font is not something you do not like--my setting is just blank, size 16.

btw, when I had Gentoo, everything was beautiful; Ubuntu is looking nice atm.

on July 14, 2006 07:29 AM
# bleh said:

I just installed the very latest Debian and my fonts still suck in IceWeasel or whatever they are calling Firefox these days on Debian.

on December 3, 2007 07:15 PM
# jc said:

7 years later, and nothing has changed...

on May 21, 2010 10:08 PM
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