[Bug 365941] big fonts at 96dpi

bugzilla at redhat.com bugzilla at redhat.com
Mon Nov 5 07:25:28 UTC 2007

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Summary: big fonts at 96dpi


nicolas.mailhot at laposte.net changed:

           What    |Removed                     |Added
             Status|ASSIGNED                    |CLOSED
         Resolution|                            |NOTABUG

------- Additional Comments From nicolas.mailhot at laposte.net  2007-11-05 02:25 EST -------
To complete this:

1. On different font metrics:

Write a page of text, print it in Arial 12pt, DejaVu 12 pt and every other font
you have available. You'll find they all have slightly different metrics
(sizes). Even past (Arial) and present (Vista) Microsoft fonts. That's normal
and NOTABUG: different font designers make different choices, modern fonts tend
to be fatter rounder than old fonts because that works better on low resolution
computer screens (old fonts where optimized for paper media). Additionally
modern fonts tend to have more space between lines, because font designers
figured they could not fit all the diacritics (accents) many languages (but nor
English) use otherwise.

This effect could probably be minimized if Fedora font libs supported the BASE
opentype feature. So if you care about this ask your favorite pango or qt
developper to support this feature.

As a rule two different fonts do not have the same metrics, except when they're
explicitely designed as clones (like Liberation).

2. On GNOME font sizes.

A screen is composed of pixels. To size fonts on screen font libs need to know
the hardware screen density (number of pixels per inch), so sizes in global
units (points) can be converted in sizes in local units (pixels). Local because
every screen does not have the same pixel density.

This is usually done using the DPI ratio, that Xorg computes from screen
physical size and resolution (in pixels).

Once upon a time GNOME maintainers noticed Xfree86/Xorg were misdetecting screen
physical sizes and producing bogus DPI values. Instead of fixing screen physical
size autodetection, or helping the user tell X what the real screen size was,
they decided it was smarter to assume every screen was a 96dpi one.

As that was not true then and is even less true today (with low-resolution
widescreen TVs maskerading as computer screens, and high 120+ dpi screens
getting on the market now) GNOME font sizes have been bogus for some years (too
big or too small depending on the user hardware).

Finally GNOME came to its sense and in F8+ it does not force 96dpi anymore. That
means any GNOME user will see its font sizes change (revert to the real value in
Fedora 8). If that is your case compare your screen font sizes to the paper text
you printed: if they're identical your hardware is correctly calibrated. If not
either your Xorg is mis-configured or you're forcing in GNOME a false DPI value.

12pt is big. 12pt is big enough to be considered a comfortable reading size even
for old people with bad eyes, and big enough to be the minimal font size one can
use in powerpoint slides. If you've been used to consider in a past
misconfigured GNOME 12pt is small, welcome to the real world.

Again NOTABUG (or if you prefer, a bug in past GNOME versions when it forced
96dpi everywhere and distorted font sizes). People blamed font designers when
GNOME started playing font size roulette, and they're blaming font designers
when GNOME changed font sizes again to stop the debacle. If you have a problem
with this change report it GNOME-side.

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