The SyrinxOS Journal

Fonts: More important than you might think

Font rendering has always been a source of pain for me with respect to Linux. Only with the later releases of Ubuntu did I feel that font rendering, presentation, and consistency warranted using Linux as my desktop OS.

I know it’s not important to many people, but to me, every detail of the user experience must be right or the overall feel suffers. I leave very few things at their default settings and I always change the size and face of the system fonts immediately after an installation. On Ubuntu this resulted in an extremely nice font experience. In my oh-so-humble opinion, it’s a better font experience than either OS X or Windows provides. For me, that’s saying a lot, as the fonts were the main reason I stayed away from desktop Linux for so many years.

Unfortunately, Debian’s default font rendering isn’t to the same level of quality as Ubuntu’s. This alone would have been a deal breaker for me. I couldn’t justify the effort of creating a Linux distribution if I couldn’t guarantee that the experience would be at least the same as under Ubuntu.

I did some research and found that with the right tweaks I could accomplish exactly the same font presentation as Ubuntu! In addition, these tweaks are already present in the newer libraries involved.

Freddie Witherden┬áhas created an exhaustive and informative treatise on the subject of font rasterization. I can’t say it’s worth a read for most people, but I found it fascinating.

So that explains the third reason I needed to create my own Linux distribution. I’m thinking (and hoping!) that it scratches some of the same itches for others as it did for me.


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