Comparing Windows and Fedora Core Font Rendering

David Eisner deisner at
Sat Dec 25 01:41:59 UTC 2004

I use Firefox as my primary web browser on both Windows and Fedora
Core, and it bothers me that the fonts look better on the former
platform.  I took the advice of somebody here and switched to
Bitstream Vera Sans on Fedora, which made a great improvement.

However, the fonts still look better with Windows (2000 and XP).  I
know that Windows uses anti-aliasing for very small and large point
sizes, but not for example, for 12 or 14 pt type.  So I changed the
settings in the KDE ControlCenter under Fedora Core 2 to turn off
anti-aliasing in the range 9pt to 14pt.  I restarted Firefox, and it
looked much worse.  Before I go on, I should say that with
anti-aliasing turned on for all pt. sizes, the rendering on Fedora is
sill quite acceptable.

Next, I decided to see what would happen if I used the exact same TTF
font files with both Windows and Fedora.  Firefox on Windows was using
Arial (which did not show up as an available font in the Firefox font
configuration dialog on FC2).  So I mounted my Windows 2000 C: drive
under FC2, copied the arial*.ttf files from C:\winnt\Fonts\ to my
~/.fonts/ directory, ran fc-cache, restarted Firefox, and then
selected Arial as my sans-serif font.

Having done so, I made a series of screen captures under both Windows
2000 and Fedora Core 2 (fully updated), on my dual-booting Inspiron
5000e laptop. Here are the results:

When comparing, please disregard the headings that wound up being
anti-aliased on Win2K but not on FC2.

As you can see, the results are not identical, and, I think, look
poorer on Fedora.

Why is this so?  Is it an issue with libfreetype?  Would upgrading to
FC3 improve the situation? Is there font hinting information in the
TTF files that Freetype can't use for legal reasons?

Thanks in advance for your insights.

More information about the users mailing list