Xft Antialiased Font Support Now Available in Linux

Saturday October 19th, 2002

Trevor writes: "As I learned from comments posted to a recent Slashdot article, antialiasing is finally available for Linux builds. There are also binary RPMs compiled for Red Hat Linux 8.0.

"I've installed the RPMs on my RH8 system, and pages look simply beautiful now. Even the browser menus and widgets are antialiased. I've put up a screen shot here:"

More experimental Xft builds are available from Xft support is not currently enabled in the default Linux builds.

#1 Which file

by paulm

Saturday October 19th, 2002 4:51 PM

Which one of these do I need?

mozilla-rh7-vanilla-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.gz mozilla-rh7-xft-patch-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.gz

#2 Which one???

by robdogg

Saturday October 19th, 2002 5:22 PM

There are 10 choices in the download link. Which one is the Xft enabled Rh8 binary?

#7 Re: Which one???

by vocaro

Saturday October 19th, 2002 9:35 PM

At minimum, you need to install four of them: mozilla, mozilla-nspr, mozilla-nss, and mozilla-psm. The others are there if you want chat and mail support or want to recompile Mozilla.

#3 Which one . . .

by DJGM2002

Saturday October 19th, 2002 5:45 PM

. . . is best for use with SuSE Linux 7.1

#4 more info for RH8 users.

by whiprush

Saturday October 19th, 2002 6:35 PM

Make sure you make a .fonts directory in your home directory.

Then take the *.ttf fonts from your windows drive or and copy them into .fonts. Restart X, launch the XFT enabled mozilla, and choose your fonts. I like verdana myself.

A big thanks to Chris Blizzard for making this happen. :)

#16 Re: more info . . .

by DJGM2002

Sunday October 20th, 2002 10:18 AM

Well, it sure as hell doesn't work for SuSE Linux 7.1!

#5 Cool, but they're not for everyone

by ecarlson

Saturday October 19th, 2002 7:24 PM

I've tried Antialiased fonts a few times in the past, on a number of CRT and LCD screens, and I never could get used to the fuzzy, out of focus look. I still prefer the crisp look of plain fonts, and find them easier to read. My eyes don't keep trying to get them into focus.

#6 fuzzy fonts

by mbokil

Saturday October 19th, 2002 8:18 PM

yah, I tried it. I like the old crisp html fonts better. I don't know why people keep thinking fuzzy fonts are better. The frist thing I turn off on windows xp are effects like antialiased fonts, window animations, fading. All toys for the masses that server only to chug through more CPU cycles. The only people that will really be excited about this are Mac people. They like Apple fuzziness a lot.

#8 Re: fuzzy fonts

by Racer

Sunday October 20th, 2002 2:20 AM

Sounds like you are running too low a resolution on your computer. I can see why running low-res with AA on would be annoying, but the benefits of AA far outweigh any costs when you have a high-resolution desktop. This is because any "blur" is not noticable, but the font looks much better

#14 What do you consider low?

by ecarlson

Sunday October 20th, 2002 10:02 AM

I've tried AA fonts on 14" and 15" LCD screens at their native resolution of 1024x768, and on 17" monitors at the same 1024x768 resolution. I can't run a higher resolution than that on the LCD screens without panning, and I wouldn't want to run a higher resolution than that on a 17" monitor.

- Eric,

#13 I agree

by ecarlson

Sunday October 20th, 2002 9:56 AM

I also turn off all those useless features, and I don't like the fuzzy fonts either.

- Eric,

#15 Re: fuzzy fonts

by jrepin

Sunday October 20th, 2002 10:05 AM

I also think the same way. It just makes fonts look fuzzy and uglier in my opinion. And I'm using 1280x1024 at 32 bit so low resolution isn't a problem here. My eyes are just more relaxed when looking at non AA fonts.

#17 Re: Fuzzy Fonts

by DJGM2002

Sunday October 20th, 2002 10:21 AM

Err, no. There are no "fuzzy fonts" with Mozilla or NS7.0 on Mac OS X v10.1.5 and higher . . .

#19 Crisp fonts

by gerbilpower

Sunday October 20th, 2002 4:23 PM

The best AA rendering is crisp, not edgy or fuzzy. It's totally up to you which you prefer, but I can't stand certain non-AA fonts when they are very small, which I sometimes encounter in some websites and I regularly see using a graphics or layout program (which would depend on the magnification I'm working on).

#23 Going by the sample, they are fuzzy

by ecarlson

Sunday October 20th, 2002 10:02 PM

Going by the sample screenshot posted in the original article above, the fonts are fuzzy. So please show me a screenshot of non-fuzzy AA fonts. I'd love to see it, since I've never seen non-fuzzy AA fonts that I am aware of. I'm willing to be converted if I can get non-fuzzy AA fonts.

- Eric,

#25 Re: Re: Difficult

by dnelson

Monday October 21st, 2002 12:22 AM

Ouch. Those fonts _are_ horrible :)

From the screenshots at , it looks like the KDE engine does it right (horizontals and verticals snap to exact pixel boundaries), where GTK does it wrong (blurs everything). Maybe gnome 2 works better?

#27 Re: Re: Difficult

by GregV

Monday October 21st, 2002 10:34 PM

I *hate* the "snap to pixel boundaries" AA. The kerning (letter spacing) always looks like a train wreck, the selective application makes line widths look inconsistent, and fonts still don't look like they're supposed to. Roman fonts are typically still one pixel wide everywhere, looking like Arial with serifs. It's better to go with full AA or none at all.

It's all in the quality of the font renderer. From the screen shot it looks like an okay implementation but it could easily be better. The best is easily OSX (random shot from Google: ) No, I'm not a Mac user, but OSX always made me jealous. I upgraded to WinXP primarily for ClearType even though I used a CRT at the time. Even now that I have a LCD, I use it in portrait mode most of the time which defeats ClearType's intended effect. But I still keep it on because everything looks so much better. Roman looks Roman. Arial looks Arial.

#31 how to do this with non-rpm builds?

by broadbandbra

Wednesday October 23rd, 2002 8:44 AM

I always use the tar.gz builds installed in my home directory to keep root out of the equation.... how would I add Xft Antialiased Font support to this type of build, or would that entail compiling from source?

#9 Really small fonts in Slashdot &

by Gent

Sunday October 20th, 2002 5:59 AM

I tried the latest Xft build and looks really cool. I am using RH 8.0 so I copied my TTF files to ~/.fonts directory and when I launched moz everything looked great except slashdot and sites displayed really small fonts. I 've only been trying it the past 30 minutes so there might more sites with this sort of problem. Everything else looks the same. Anyone else experiencing the same problem ?

#10 Really small fonts in Slashdot &

by Gent

Sunday October 20th, 2002 6:05 AM

I tried the latest Xft build and looks really cool. I am using RH 8.0 so I copied my TTF files to ~/.fonts directory and when I launched moz everything looked great except slashdot and sites displayed really small fonts. I 've only been trying it the past 30 minutes so there might more sites with this sort of problem. Everything else looks the same. Anyone else experiencing the same problem ?

#28 Re: Really small fonts in Slashdot &

by unknown

Tuesday October 22nd, 2002 5:01 AM

You might want to install M$ corefonts from (you can just cp *.ttf ~/.fonts/)

Now set mozilla to use your favourite fonts from preferences. Here's my setup: Proportional: Sans Serif Serif: Times New Roman Sans-serif: Arial Cursive: URW Chancery L Fantasy: Comic Sans MS Monospace: Courier New

#11 How about RPM instalation?

by tslukka

Sunday October 20th, 2002 6:08 AM

I noticed there was RH8.0 rpm packages available. I just finished configuring my new RH8.0 desktop and I don't want to mess nautilus and other stuff with the new mozilla. So the question is: Is it safe to say "rpm -Uvh mozilla*.rpm" with the XFT enabled packages, or should I try something else instead??

#12 Re: How about RPM instalation?

by tslukka

Sunday October 20th, 2002 6:13 AM

To make my point clear, I am referring these RPMS:

#21 Nautilus not compiled against Mozilla anymore

by salimma

Sunday October 20th, 2002 7:51 PM

The Nautilus shipping with RH8 does not have a built-in web browsing component; Help files are now displayed using Yelp.

So no worries with Nautilus there :)



#18 Re: How about RPM instalation?

by vocaro

Sunday October 20th, 2002 1:41 PM

Mozilla and Nautilus are completely separate programs, AFAIK. Installing or upgrading either of them shouldn't affect the other. The only possible problem I can see with what you want to do is if you have other installations of Mozilla. It is possible that one installation may clobber the configuration files (~/.mozilla) of another. However, in my experience, there are no problems as long as you upgrade to a more recent version and never "downgrade".

#20 Missing application icon?

by salimma

Sunday October 20th, 2002 7:49 PM

Has anyone noticed that the Xft-enabled builds of Mozilla do not show the application icon on the window manager/taskbar ?

Was completely enamoured by the much-improved font display I did not notice this until a few minutes ago...

#22 I want it too

by Lancer

Sunday October 20th, 2002 9:59 PM

I am a Windows ME user, and I would like to have this utility too. Is there one available or something similar for Windows ME?

#24 Re: Re: Difficult

by dnelson

Monday October 21st, 2002 12:13 AM

You've always had it. Windows has built-in font smoothing. Control Panel / Display/ Effects / Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts.

#26 Re: Difficult

by Lancer

Monday October 21st, 2002 5:43 PM

I always keep selected that option, but it only seem to work, when the fonts are big. The tiny ones appear without the smooth.

For example, the font Arial, start to appear smooth at the size 18px. This, in the Internet Explorer and the Mozilla browsers, but in Adobe Acrobat, the all sizes fonts appear smoothed; a feature i do like very much and of course i would like that Mozilla has it, and my entire desktop too.

#30 Smoothing for small fonts?

by dantealiegri

Tuesday October 22nd, 2002 6:26 AM

In general, you don't want smoothing on small fonts. It makes them harder to read, but again this isn't a choice that is easy for you to make it windows, I guess ...

I'm sure there is some way to actually get it done, if you really want to. I'd suggest seeing if the power tools kit has an option for that, it tends to have a lot of useful ones. I believe it is on the ME CD.


#29 Wow

by djm

Tuesday October 22nd, 2002 5:06 AM

I have just upgraded to the Xft-enabled build - WOW. The difference is just amazing. Big thanks to Chris, Keith and everyone else who worked on this excellent feature.

#32 How do I compile?

by ferzilla

Wednesday October 23rd, 2002 5:57 PM

I have downloaded mozilla-1.0.0-0_xft.src.rpm and i have installed it under /usr/src/redhat/SOURCES. I see a perl script called, but i dont know how to use --install-dir, --install-root, package, package-file, and output-file. Can anybody help me installing it?

Thank you

#33 Problem with MS core fonts

by raphael

Saturday October 26th, 2002 3:28 AM

Just installed Moz 1.2b with xft support, and the anti-aliasis IS on, but the Microsoft Core fonts (such as Verdana) have disappeared in the process! In the font selector box in my prefs, I now only see a dozen fonts, and no MS ones in there! Anybody got that problem--and solved it?!

BTW, the xft enabled RPMs for RedHat 8 are located at

A short answer to the naysayers: this is a very good feature for high-resolution screens. I'm using a laptop with a 15-inch, 1600*1200 screen, and anti-aliasing dramatically increases legibility, especially in italics and in small sizes.

#34 Yeah, the ~/.fonts directory...

by raphael

Saturday October 26th, 2002 3:39 AM

I know, I know, it was on this page, you gotta use the ~/.fonts directory. But now I've got two copies of the ttfs on my hard disk. Not that I mind that much, but it isn't elegant, is it?

#35 It's the density not the resolution.

by ecarlson

Sunday October 27th, 2002 9:01 AM

I would guess that it's because you are running 1600x1200 on only a 15" screen that it helps. If you ran 1600x1200 natively on a 21" LCD screen, it would probably look fuzzy, just like it looks when running 1024x768 natively on a 15" LCD screen.

So if you had one of those tiny 12" or smaller 1024x768 LCD screens, you'd probably see the same improvement because of the high pixel density.

On the other hand, in Windows XP, there is a special font smoothing mode (ClearType) that is designed specifically for LCD screens, and it truely is in improvement on any density LCD screen.

- Eric,