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Re: [ft] Tweaking/Improving FreeType Antialiasing

From: David Turner
Subject: Re: [ft] Tweaking/Improving FreeType Antialiasing
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2006 16:40:29 +0200

Hello Galenz,

I'm answering your original post a bit late, but there are a few things I'd like
to state though.

First of all, it should be possible to get a OS X -like rendering on your system
if you follow these steps:

- first of all, install FreeType 2.2.1 or above on your system

- then open your font properties dialog (either in Gnome or KDE), go
  into the Advanced settings, and select "light hinting" and "gray rendering"

notice however that if you select "RGB rendering", the rendering will 
revert to "strong hinting". This is really due to limitations of libraries on 
top of
FreeType, which exist for various historical reasons, some of them having been 
in this thread.

These are going to be fixed some day, but I can't say exactly when. 

Apart from that, it's probably very difficult to replace the font rendering 
library on
a typical Linux system, mainly because a lot of things depend on it now. What 
you can do
however is tweak the hinting and/or rendering algorithm within FreeType, since
its source code is available. Believe it or not, most of the code in there 
deals with
parsing crufty font file formats, the rendering part is pretty small in 

Best Regards,

- David Turner
- The FreeType Project  (

On Sat, 26 Aug 2006 23:54:08 -0700, "Galen P. Zink" <address@hidden> said:
> I've never been terribly happy with the antialiasing under various  
> Linux distributions. I'm not sure if this is a personal preference  
> issue or what, but suffice to say, it has been my largest complaint  
> about using Linux on the desktop - the fonts look like utter crap to  
> me. I can adapt to different interfaces - there are pluses and  
> minuses to every way of doing something - but the anti-aliasing under  
> Linux has always been kind of like going from Lindt chocolate to  
> Hershey's chocolate, at least to me.
> I'm particularly leaning towards Fedore Core 5 as the distribution in  
> which I wish to apply improved anti-aliasing. My first assumption  
> regarding the anti-aliasing was that it was related to the disabling  
> of auto-hinting. So I looked into ways to enable the bytecode  
> interpreter. ( 
> fonts-2006-04-19-20-12.html ) But that doesn't seem to really change  
> the rendering much.
> Let me show you a screenshot from FC5 with subpixel anti-aliasing,  
> using the MS Verdana font and FreeType 2.1.10 with bytecode on:
> Now, take a look at it under OS X - same font - with "lighter" and  
> "normal" settings with subpixel anti-aliasing using the standard OS X  
> font rendering:
> There are flaws, in my view, with the OS X rendering, but it is (to  
> me) an absolute night and day improvement over the stuff in FC5.  
> Similarly, Adobe's CoolType (when properly configured) can look  
> pretty much as good as OS X as well.
> Is it even possible to get FreeType rendering text that even comes  
> close to the OS X screenshots? If it's not possible with FreeType, is  
> there some library I could drop in place of FreeType to get text that  
> (to me) actually looks really good?
> I do realize people have difference preferences in terms of the look/ 
> feel of their fonts, but hopefully you can help me achieve the  
> appearance I'm seeking.
> Any thoughts would be much appreciated...
> Thanks,
> Galen
> _______________________________________________
> Freetype mailing list
> address@hidden
- David Turner
- The FreeType Project  (

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