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Anti-Aliased Fonts For GNOME 331

Posted by timothy
from the smoothing-the-edges dept.
McVeigh revels in this posting at Gnotices site which reads: "GDKFXT transparently adds anti-aliased font support to GTK+-1.2. Once you have installed it, you can run any (well, nearly any) existing GTK+ binary and see anti-aliased fonts in the GTK widgets. You don't need to recompile GTK+ or your application.'" He adds "I'm running it now -- it it looks great!!"
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Anti-Aliased Fonts For GNOME

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  • Does it work with all applications? I saw a patch for AA text in GTK1.2 a few months ago that worked in most apps but crashed XMMS and a few others.
  • Just the little things adding up, such as this, will make open-source alternatives such as GNOME rise above Windows.. Muahahah!
    • Re:This is great! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vrmlknight (309019)
      This isn't meant as a troll but does it greatly increases mem and processor usage so everything runs slowly i had that problem w/ gnome and anti aliasing fonts on a 500mHz w/ 128 ram so what use is it for average users not everyone has a 1.2 athlon w/ 512 ram... yea its good to offer but is it fast???

  • My only complaint left with Gnome is the clunky nautilus, now that it's a tad easier on my eyes.
    • I never used gmc (or mc, for that matter), I've only tried Nautilus to see how it works, and the same goes for every other filemanager I've tried under Linux. In Linux, I prefer using shellcommands rather that dragn'drop. It's not becuse Linux filemanagers are bad - they aren't.

      The weird thing is that under Win or NT, I have little problems with using their filemanager, and under MacOS, I'd feel lost without having directory windows everywhere. When I tried a program that gave me the same interface on Linux, I lost all patience within five minutes.

      I think it's something about how you think about your system. I see Linux differently than I see MacOS (or Windows...), so my preferred work habits are different too. I saw the same thing happen with a friend who's a long time Mac developer when he started using Linux. After a while, he went more and more to using a shell instead of a filemanager (though he still mixes those uses after almost a year).

      /Janne
      • It's not becuse Linux filemanagers are bad - they aren't.

        I don't guess they are really all that bad, but I've yet to find one I can tolerate.

        under Win or NT, I have little problems with using their filemanager

        Me too, I disable all of the buttons, address bars, and other crap (turn off file hiding and extensions... it becomes usable!)

        MacOS, I'd feel lost without having directory windows everywhere.

        The MacOS does things well too. So did/does the Amiga. In fact, my favorite still today is the "Bland Old Amiga" file management system. It was very simple, yet powerful. Some people thought it was too simple, so along came many tools to spruce it up. Of course, they were OPTIONAL, the way features should be.

        I think it's something about how you think about your system.

        I tend to agree. 9 out of 10 times I use my BSD machine over a telnet connection. It sits on the other side of the room. The monitor is almost always off, the keyboard is a POS, and the mouse sucks. BUT, I do use it, and frequently. I just tend to use shells most of the time. I hate KDE. I hate Gnome. I hate X. Loath them, even. If they weren't both so emmensely popular with Linux users, I'd say the Unix world had a better chance of a "new killer underdog" popping up out of no-where and totally replacing X, since that's normally the way the computer industry works. But with the attitude of users today, esspecially current day Linux users, a really radical new desktop system for Unix would get flamed down and kicked under in much the same way Microsoft handles their competition: Without mercy.
      • the reason you 'accept' the filemanager in windows is because you don't have a choice.

        once you've used BASh in linux, how can you possibly use DOS??
      • Try ROX-Filer (Score:3, Informative)

        by SCHecklerX (229973)
        It's a filemanager/pinboard done right.

        http://rox.sourceforge.net/rox_filer.php3

        Here are a couple of pictures of ROX running on my desktop:

        Desktop 1 [homeip.net]
        Desktop 2 [homeip.net]
    • true true...I've picked up a lot of bad habits since I left good ol DOS behind
  • by garcia (6573)
    freshmeat is even getting the jump on /.

    I saw this yesterday on fm.net and decided that it really wasn't worth the time to dl/install/fuck with it.

    if it is so great I am sure that it will be at some point included in the GNOME base. Until that time I will remain anti anti-aliased ;)

    thanks for the info though.
    • Good call. I just tried it and found out the hard way that it doesn't work well with the Ximian stuff. Now Evolution doesn't look right - so I removed the package aaf package - and Evolution is going really slow. I'd suggest that people hold off on this one, and as the man says, wait until it's part of the base. Unless of course you like to screw around with stuff, then go for it!

  • I'm not impressed (Score:5, Informative)

    by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Sunday September 02, 2001 @05:14PM (#2246257) Homepage

    Not to be a stick in the mud, but I didn't notice much, if any, improvement when trying it. Of course I'm already operating at reasonably high resolution to start with, so there's going to be somewhat less room for improvement through anti-aliasing, but it's certainly not dramatic. The other disadvantage is that it's only for the one theme, so you can't take advantage if you want to keep using your existing theme. And, as they mention but don't emphasize, it's only for widgets not for all fonts, so the value was rather limited to start with.

    • Re:I'm not impressed (Score:3, Informative)

      by 1010011010 (53039)
      Actually, you can get A.A. in other themes; just chose a "custom font" that's scalable in the Theme Selector.
      • I doesn't appear to work for me with any of the MS TTF (monotype) or the adobe fonts. The abisource and urw fonts are anti-aliased however.

        Are the abisource fonts truetypes?
    • I didn't seem to notice any antialiasing either. Looking through the config files and gdkxft_sysinstall script seems to provide some answers.

      During install, gdkxft_sysinstall tries to read Xft's font names using xftcache. Unfortunately, xftcache doesn't seem to exist in X 4.0.x for us poor Dead Hat people. For all I know, it may not be in X 4.0.x at all. It is, however, in X 4.1.0. Therefore, I'm not sure the gdkxft_sysinstall script can build a proper XftConfig file in XFree86 4.0.x. The answer's not as simple as installing 4.1.0 binaries out of RawHide; they're linked to a couple other libraries, which also are linked to other libraries... and it's just a mess.

      If anyone can pull it off, I'd like to know. I sure would like to try antialiasing my fonts, since I tend to jack the size way up for visibility reasons. Otherwise, I may just have to upgrade to DeadHat 7.2 or Mandrake's next version. Or, I can build 4.1.0 myself. That may turn out to be the most viable option.
      • Here's my experience with it:

        Installed the RPM under RedHat 7.1.

        init 3 / init 5, to make sure everything was cleared out and reloaded.

        The gnome panel crashes every time it tries to run. I was panel-less.

        rpm -e gdkxft; init 3; init 5

        Everything works again.
    • Of course I'm already operating at reasonably high resolution to start with, so there's going to be somewhat less room for improvement through anti-aliasing

      Actually, it's rather the opposite: at low resolutions, anti-aliasing is usually less desirable. When the width of a stroke is around a single pixel, a grey pixel stands out in a big way, making the glyph look fuzzy. If glyphs are pixel-aligned (ie, they start and end on pixel boundaries) and upright (not italicized or rotated), a non-anti-aliased, hand-hinted font is much cleaner. (It follows eg that word-processing software should favor magnification levels such that glyphs have integral pixel width and hand-hinting, and fudge a little to put glyphs on pixel boundaries.)

      At higher resolutions, there are simply more pixels to play with, and a few grey pixels blend in nicely. 75 dpi versus 100 dpi doesn't make a huge difference, but when we get 300 dpi screens, we'll wonder how we ever put up with today's blocky text.

    • Can you explain to me which fonts aren't in widgets? Pretty much every piece of text you see in the screen, from the text in your mailreader to the text in your web browser (though, due to evil hackery, this patch doesn't work on Mozilla) is in a widget. Get a clue dude. With regards to improvement...I notice a pretty big difference at 1600x1200. I suppose it all depends how picky you are about your text.

      If you want to see shots of it in action...see

      http://www.stanford.edu/~snickell/ [stanford.edu]

      Every major operating system has already done this for years. This is serious catchup.

      -seth
  • by Bodero (136806) on Sunday September 02, 2001 @05:14PM (#2246258)
    I've heard this term before but could never find out what it meant, what is anti-aliasing and why would I want it?

    Basically anti-aliasing (in this case) means the use of grayscale to make better looking text (or graphics).

    By using gray pixels around the edge of text, the "jaggyness" of text can be made to appear to be less.

    For an illustration look at the top of Apple's home page, http://www.apple.com [apple.com].

    The "text" "Welcome to Apple" at the top is not really text - it is part of a graphic that uses color and grayscale. The characters appear smoother than regular Mac or PC text. Note where it says "What's Hot". It looks much smoother than the regular html text in the headline below it, even though it is about the same size. Note also that anti-aliasing can make text look fuzzy or out of focus.

    It is kinda like using interpolation to smooth out a graph.

    The higher DPI (dots per inch), the more possible it would be to use this to make better looking text. However, on some systems, this would require new fonts and a complete rewrite of the "engine" that controls writing to the screen. GTK is low-level enough that something like this is able to make all your GTK text anti-aliased.

    Anti-aliasing will really show it's merrits in the Web browswer (such as Mozilla that supports anti-aliasing on some platforms) and in graphics, and even some small games.

    • by znu (31198) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Sunday September 02, 2001 @05:32PM (#2246309)
      The "text" "Welcome to Apple" at the top is not really text - it is part of a graphic that uses color and grayscale. The characters appear smoother than regular Mac or PC text. Note where it says "What's Hot". It looks much smoother than the regular html text in the headline below it, even though it is about the same size.

      Not in OmniWeb in OS X it doesn't; everything is beautifully anti-aliased. Which brings up an interesting point: not all anti-aliasing is created equal. This is very noticeable in OS X, which (for legacy reasons) actually has two different algorithms for it. Loading up the same page in IE (which uses QuickDraw) and OmniWeb (which uses CoreGraphics) makes the differences obvious. So, how good is the GTK anti-aliasing? Anyone got a screenshot?
      • The GTK anti-aliasing is still being handled by the FreeType engine, which is IMHO perceptively as good as it gets. But you're begging for the screenshots aren't you? Here are some tiny morsels for you :)

        • Konqueror (and the rest of QT) has xft enabled for a while now - shot 1 [uwa.edu.au]
        • And here is the gdkxft working on the gnapster menu bar - similar results. shot 2 [uwa.edu.au]
    • the question is: why the apple anti-aliasing looks so cutting edge, and antialiasing in gimp for example is not usable for sizes of 12-9 pixels? this makes webdesigning ... a pain in the @ss. luckily i dont stick with mainstream design trends
      • Getting AA right is more than just \alpha blending. The rasterisation of the character to decide how to use the extra subpixles is non-trivial (I believe that microsoft or truetype has a patent or two on this). It makes a big difference for characters where the pixel is a large fraction of the character size.

        • The secret at small font sizes is 'hinting', as someone else pointed out. See patent USUS5325479 [delphion.com]: Method and apparatus for moving control points in displaying digital typeface on raster output devices. This is a patent granted to Apple in 1992. (Apple and Microsoft cross-license a bunch of patents related to TrueType, IIRC.)
    • Just to clarify something that may not be so clear - the gray pixels that AA adds isn't really interpolation per se - i.e. it doesn't make a guess based on the pixels around it.

      Antialiasing approximates the colour of the pixel based on the proportion covered by the imaginary vector curve passing through that pixel.

      For example, with no antialiasing, if a pixel would be partially covered by the mathematical vector curve of the font - the renderer would display a white pixel if 50% of that pixel was covered by the curve.

      With antialiasing however, it's not an either/or black/white situation. If a pixel is partially covered by the edge vector of the glyph, it determines the colour to display for that pixel based on the proportion of the pixel covered. So if the imaginary curve of the font covered a small piece (say 10% worth) on the corner of the pixel, then the pixel would be drawn at 10% black. If the glyph theoretically covered up 80% of the pixel, then it would be drawn at 80% black. This way the curve can be approximated by using variations in colour, since there isn't any more resolution to use in displaying it.

      This is the theory anyway AFAIK - I'm not too sure of the implementation details in xft for example. However most AA techniques I've heard of have involved rendering the image at double the size or something, and making the guesses on how much of the pixel is covered based on that larger image.
  • No need to post any of the following comments, as I will take care of them for you:

    "Big deal. KDE has had AA since ..."

    "So what? OS X has had AA since ..."

    "This is news? Windows has had AA since ..."

    Unfortunately, I still don't have AA fonts, because I'm running debian and the alianized .deb I created didn't appear to do anything.

    • Unfortunately, I still don't have AA fonts, because I'm running debian and the alianized .deb I created didn't appear to do anything.

      I'm also running Debian (potato + Ximian) and I installed gdkxft from source. It isn't working for me either. Maybe there's some issue with the GTK packages for Debian or something.

    • I use Debian KDE (potato+woody). Supposedly KDE and QT is compiled with antialiased fonts. And X has AA as well. But whenever I run a KDE app, I get

      Xlib: extension "RENDER" missing on display ":0.0"
      And supposedly I only need to add the environment variable QT_XFT to 1 or TURE. Never works. Maybe you guys have better luck with the deb and gnome combination.
      • Sounds like you have an ATI graphics card. AA is only supported with ATI graphics cards from XFree86 4.1 and above. I have wonderful anti-aliased fonts with KDE on 4.0.3 on FreeBSD at home (Voodoo 4500), but at work with the same setup, I don't (ATI Mach 64 naffness).

        Does anyone know if the GTK anti-aliasing uses the X11 RENDER extension, or if it does it all itself in some horrific Macrosoftian bloat copy?

        Also, anti-aliased fonts should be made to just work on Linux/FreeBSD/KDE/Gnome. Better fonts management tools are required (MacOS/Windows has this kind of stuff down to a tee, and the Amiga had this all done 10 years ago with its font installers), not any of this mkfontdir, mkttfontdir and all that malarky. I think that in a year's time, Linux will be truly ready for the desktop. We need a full screen XDM/GDM/KDM that looks sexy for multiple users (with their photos and all that stuff), no text based boot up (user defined picture instead), and KDE/Gnome/etc friendlyness (when I install a Gnome app via RPM/DEB I want it to show up in the correct menu on my KDE desktop, with the proper icon, etc).

        Still, things are getting there. Now just to rename /usr, /sbin, /tmp, /var, etc to meaningful names... :)

    • My voodoo 4 has had full screen anti-aliasing since, like, six months ago.
  • what about KDE (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Arctic Fox (105204)
    <flamebait>
    Hasn't KDE had this for quite some time?
    </flamebait>
    But this is still cool.... I remember when I got KDE and Anti-Alias fonts on my desktop with Mandrake 8.0.... it looked "too good"... almost made my eyes hurt. Anyone know why that would happen, or have experienced it?
    • I agree. It hard to explain that "too good" good look. Sometimes, I swear I can even see colors inside AA white text. There are some AA fonts in KDE that make me feel like I supposed to be wearing glasses, I'm just not at the time.
  • I just installed it..and all I get is a big ole
    gnome core file in my home directory. Fortunately, it uninstalls (rpm --erase ...) fine,
    and I'm back to running again..
  • Only for widgets? (Score:2, Informative)

    by aussersterne (212916)
    Being one who likes to try new things and who already uses fully AA KDE as my desktop, I thought it would be a good thing to download this and try it out.

    But it only seems to anti-alias the text on buttons and in menus, not in text input or output panes!? So basically, it anti-aliases the parts of your applications that you look at least.

    Not quite what I was hoping for...
  • IMHO, Fonts are a royal pain, and the main reason more people don't adopt Linux. If they could just build true type fonts and anti-aliasing into KDE, and make it work out of the box, then we'd start seeing way more converts.
    Really, until recently, no matter how well I got X running, it still looked like crap. It's looking better now that I've got KDE working with ttfs and anti-aliasing, but it's a LONG way from being user friendly.
    My 2 cents.
    • IMHO, Fonts are a royal pain, and the main reason more people don't adopt Linux.

      Wow! And for all this time I thought it was silly little things like hardware support or getting companies to write applications for it or getting installation to be fast and painless or some tiny little concerns like that.

      All this time it was the fonts! My god, you're a genius! I wish I was as insightful as you!

      • Fonts are a huge problem!

        Out of the box, Linux usually looks lousy. At least it did for my last few installs, including Mandrake 7.1 and 7.2 and RedHat 8.0. The font rendering was plug-ugly, compared to Windoze. Indeed it was barely readable, especially in Netscape.

        Now the main problem, of course, was that the profoundly defective AbiSuite fonts were installed in the font path. (Why do Linux distributions still do this?) Thanks to Google Groups, I found out about it and could remove the offending line. After that, the fonts were merely mediocre, maybe as good as Windows 3.0, though it's hard to compare the monitors of those days to now.

        After a session of Linux, rebooting to Windows is a treat to the eyes. Not that Windows is better than Linux for everything, but XFree86 seems to have terribly primitive font rendering, while Windows pays close attention to appearances. I do typically insert Windows fonts into Linux, which are better than the usual X fonts, but Linux has still not got the best font rendering engines. It makes a real difference in readability when looking at the small fonts some web sites use.

        The X Window System was a clever invention for its day, the early 1980s and Project Athena, where the goal was a "1-1-1" X server (display terminal) system (1 M byte RAM, 1 M pixel screen, 1 MHz CPU). But Linux would benefit from a modern replacement. (What ever happened to Hungry's "Y"?)

    • What? I got AA fonts after "rpm -Uvh kde*" with KDE 2.2. I don't know about other distros, but with Redhat you can't get more "out of the box" than that. There's also a checkbox in the KDE "Fonts" control panel if you want to disable AA.
  • This is nothing but good news. Even smallish changes like AA fonts help in the long run.

    Previous posters are content on slamming it because KDE has been doing AA for some time, and Win95+Plus even longer. So Gnome should just give up? Would you rather have AA in Gnome or not? If the answer is yes, don't bitch about the timing. You got it, now shut up.

    Personaly, I leave AA fonts in KDE turned off at work. For some reason it actually makes certain things harder to read (probably the monitor). And honestly, I've never been able to tell that much difference in Windows when it is on.

    I fail to see what there is to complain about.
  • by mTor (18585) on Sunday September 02, 2001 @05:31PM (#2246303)
    Some people simply don't get the point. It is very easy to create anti-aliased fonts but the truth is that they don't look that good. They're simply too blurred and 10 and 12pt fonts simply look like crap (as this screenshot attests to that).

    The reason why Microsoft's fonts look so good is because they are hinted and hand-tuned by humans. This is a painstakingly long process but it produces the best looking fonts. Linux is still lacking a copyright-free font set which looks good. Lots of people run the TT font server and use MS fonts because they are simply top-notch. Hinted fonts are essential when it comes to displaying fonts on the computer screen since reproducing quality and readable outlines on a low frequency, discrete grid is not easy.

    Linux community needs to produce a quality set of serif and non-serif hinted fonts. Only then will Linux desktop look as good as MS Windows one.

    AA is a step in the right direction but it is not a solution.

    If you want to learn more about hinting, my I suggest this link: http://microsoft.com/typography/hinting/hinting.ht m?fname=%20&fsize=
    • Well spoken... (Score:5, Informative)

      by root_42 (103434) on Sunday September 02, 2001 @05:52PM (#2246364) Homepage
      ...and thus the best combination is to use the freely on the web available Microsoft fonts (on their ftp site e.g.) and disable font antialiasing for font sizes in the range from 8 to 14 pt. Very small fonts look better with AA and very large ones.
      And here is what your /usr/lib/X11/XftConfig should contain:

      match
      any size > 8
      any size < 14
      edit
      antialias = false;

      Try it! Your desktop will look much better, and it won't hurt your eyes anymore. Of course you can tweak the point sizes a little.
      • disable font antialiasing for font sizes in the range from 8 to 14 pt.

        This is exactly right for text widgets and such, but may be a problem for programs that do more sophisticated text layout. If glyphs do not fall on pixel boundaries, anti-aliasing can be a huge win, because forcing glyphs to pixel boundaries can completely screw up glyph spacing. For example, try running xpdf on most any PDF document, in non-anti-aliasing mode.

        Does X anti-aliasing have any support for disabling anti-aliasing for "widget text" but enabling it for "WYSIWYG text"? Can programs that need WYSIWYG at least override the default? Italicized, rotated, and magnified text have similar issues. It's not just about point size.

    • by debrain (29228) on Sunday September 02, 2001 @06:01PM (#2246390) Journal
      Interestingly, I find that the staroffice fonts are top-knotch. It's too bad that they're not part of the regular distributions, since I use them quite a bit, especially arioso and other esoteric fonts which are very pleasing to the eye, but not cookie-cutter. AA makes all the difference in the world for these fonts in KDE, especially arioso in kmail.


      But I guess the point would be that there are more fonts out there beyond MS-Verdana and Times New Roman (but I admit to using these heavily), and Sun for one has provided fonts of very high quality with their StarOffice distribution. I won't speculate on the license of said fonts, however.

    • To make Free fonts one needs Free tools to make them, unless you can pay for a commercial font type editor.

      There's some future in PfaEdit [sourceforge.net] which is somewhat Free though...

      • It is not somewhat Free, it is truly Free. Their license is listed among the Free Software Foundations license list. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html
    • Linux community needs to produce a quality set of serif and non-serif hinted fonts. Only then will Linux desktop look as good as MS Windows one.

      This would be a great thing to lobby for, before the investment in the Linux desktop dries up completely: that someone with deep pockets (IBM, Gnome Foundation, the remnants of VA) would buy or underwrite development for some good, freely-licensed, anti-aliasable fonts.

      It's not the kind of thing a talented CS sophomore is going to bang out.

    • You are speaking in generalities, and confusing your limited experience for a universal principle.
      On your moinitor, maybe, AA fonts look blurry. On any monitor with a deccently high resolution, = &lt .26mm pixel height for example, they are a godsend. Hell, they are even a godsend on almost any decent TFT, especially using rgb for subpixel rendering instead of grays. The better your monitor the more AA fonts resemble good quality printing on paper. Even in small point sizes.

      And I will do some generalization myself: the better the fonts look in many applications, such as word processors like OpenOffice which now automatically uses AA if available, and document layout programs like Quark Xpress, the more confident and comfortable most people feel about using those applications. The resemblance to printed output removes the need to imagine the look of the final document while working on it. Now that AA has been standard for so long on those platforms where such applications are most used, few of the typesetters, office workers, and none of the designers would ever consider a platform without this ability as minimally acceptable.


      AA is most definitely *a* solution for Linux on the desktop. In fact it is an essential solution without any substitute. It is not the only display related feature that has needed improvement on the Linux desktop. But at last we are putting lack of AA behind us.


      Well hinted Type 1 fonts would be far better than Microsoft's scraggly assed truetypes which are only useful for screen display anyway. But it is completely mistaking the nature of the problem to say that "hinting is important and Anti-aliasing is not at all important, and worse, it is a bad thing".

      • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Sunday September 02, 2001 @07:47PM (#2246713) Homepage
        You are speaking in generalities, and confusing your limited experience for a universal principle. On your moinitor, maybe, AA fonts look blurry

        No, actually YOU are guilty of doing exactly that. The original poster was 100% correct.

        Antialiasing does not solve the problem of displaying fonts at small sizes. Only hinting does this.

        Antialiasing can HELP, and is easier, and perhaps for you it is an acceptable solution, but it is equally capable of making it even HARDER to read small type because of the inability for the antialiasing to take into consideration the INTENT of the type designer (which of course is the entire purpose of hinting).

        It also depends greatly on the typeface you're using -- perhaps a simple face like Helvetica will appear to display just fine at 8 pts anti-aliased, but using an unhinted script face at that size will be a blur.

        AA is most definitely *a* solution for Linux on the desktop. In fact it is an essential solution without any substitute. It is not the only display related feature that has needed improvement on the Linux desktop. But at last we are putting lack of AA behind us.

        I agree completely -- at this point it isn't possible for a consumer OS to look "professional" without antialiasing ability, since the Mac and Windows have had it for several years now and people have gotten used to the quality of type on those platforms.

        Well hinted Type 1 fonts would be far better than Microsoft's scraggly assed truetypes which are only useful for screen display anyway.

        Truetype is in every way a superior type technology to Postscript Type 1 (which should be no surprise as it is a decade younger). Miscorost's core collection of TrueType fonts (Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc) are quite possibly the most well-built fonts in existence.

        The only reason we hold Type 1 & Type 3 fonts in such high regard is because such a vast library of high-quality fonts are already in existence that take full advantage of the limited hinting available in PS. Most TT fonts, though, have no manual hinting at all, so they look like crap compared to the PS versions.

        Now that OpenType is catching on, we're starting to see really beautiful fonts taking advantage of the extra abilities TT always had but no one took advantage of (but MS).

        But it is completely mistaking the nature of the problem to say that "hinting is important and Anti-aliasing is not at all important, and worse, it is a bad thing".

        Well, full-time brute-force antialiasing CAN be a bad thing, compared to actually building the font right. It's a great boon for larger type sizes but not the solution for small type at all, and can very much hurt legibility. Both are necessary, and they solve different problems.
        • Miscorost's core collection of TrueType fonts (Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc) are quite possibly the most well-built fonts in existence.

          Well built for screen, that is. Even though they look very similar, just about any designer will choose Helvetica over Arial. The proportions and spacing are subtly, yet not insignificantly more even and easy on the eye. Of course Arial is an MS knock-off of Helvetica, so that's to be expected.

          I totally agree about the hinting though.
          • Well built for screen, that is. Even though they look very similar, just about any designer will choose Helvetica over Arial

            They are well-built and well-designed. But they were designed for screen use, and because of that they aren't necessarily pleasing designs for print. But their construction and technical superiority to even the best Adobe/Bitstream/Monotype Helvetica is undeniable. Design is a separate issue from technical construction, and the MS faces are as well-designed for their use as any print face is for print.

            And it's worth noting that EVERY Helvetica is a knock-off of Helvetica :)
      • You're both right, ignore the flamefesters. AA is important it is misleading to say only hinting is needed. Hinting helps improve the frequency response, particularly on vertical and horizontal edges even with AA, Nyquist states that you can only reconstruct information at half the frequency of screen samples. Hinting lets you cheat by aligning edges to the grid when you antialias(it's really a nasty hack but it works), but AA is still very important. Hinting without AA stops things looking horribly distorted, hinting WITH AA improves the frequency response and avoids blurry edges on vertical and horizontal features. Can't we all just get along?
    • Is there any decent software for designing fonts? I designed a couple of decent (special purpose) fonts on the Mac using Fontographer, and tried to design one using ResEdit. I won't ever try again without a decent Font editor program. The ResEdit version just wasn't suitable. The Fontographer version was. I don't know the details involved, but it seems to me that Kontour Bezier curves have solved most of the difficulty already. It just needs someone who understands how font-hinting works to adapt it as a font edit program.

      I do know that in the early versions of Fontographer one of the steps involved generating bit-maps from the fonts at various sizes which were then hand tuned. It was a lot of work, but with the existence of this kind of program, a large number of fonts came into existence. True, most of them weren't very useful... I created a custom font called Eerier (based on a bit-map font called Eire), and another custom old english kind of font, based on another font, but with the letters modified to be more readable. Other people did graphics, music, whatever struck their fancy.

      But the first step was the editor. Until that happened... nothing.
    • Linux community needs to produce a quality set of serif and non-serif hinted fonts. Only then will Linux desktop look as good as MS Windows one.

      I think it's worth pointing out that TrueType is neither the only, nor the first, hinting technology. It does give font designers a lot of control, but it also requires a lot of work.

      Maybe the TrueType tradeoffs are wrong for the open source community (not having minions of font designers that we can hire), and we should focus more on using a different hinting technology that automates the process, even if the end product is slightly less good than what you might get out of TrueType.


  • so now i can FINALLY make graphics on my pc that will compete with the mac? :)

  • Is anyone actually proud of this ugly hack? Call me crazy, but antialising should be supported at the font rendering level, not at the application (or app toolkit) level.

    Can someone *please* come up with a spec for overhauling font management in X? Overhauling X in general? Just steal display PDF from Apple/Adobe?

    Something??? This is unbelievably crude, and the OSS community should be embarrased.

    • Ahh, you want NeWS. That's been done and was torpedoed by X years ago. It was a PostScript desktop with native PostScript rendering. Major UNIX workstation vendors had it as standard on their desktop, folks like SGI and IBM pushed it but in the end they caved in to the prevailing trend and moved over to X. If X had lost that little war then we'd all have embedded PostScript rendering in EVERYTHING on the desktop. Now you want to wind the clock back. You have to lie in the bed all those old fuddy duddy IT managers made for you. The only way to get even now is to inflict some misery on future generations.
    • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday September 03, 2001 @01:34AM (#2247391)
      Something??? This is unbelievably crude, and the OSS community should be embarrased.

      I reluctantly have to agree. Linux is great for a number of different tasks, but anything related to graphic design and desktop publishing is so much better served by Windows and MacOS applications that anyone suggesting Linux for these tasks ought to be laughed out of the room for being the clueless nutball that they are. It is endlessly frustrating to me that I have to keep Windows around to have a full-featured word processor and page layout software, but that's just how it is right now.

      I think most Linux users recognize this as an unfortunate fact of life, and it's a natural consequence of the dominant interests of the average Linux user (myself included). Unfortunately, there is a small faction consisting of people who have never used word processors or layout software extensively who think that WordPad clones like AbiWord are "good enough", and they probably are for those users. Likewise with the people who can seriously suggest that the GIMP is a workable replacement for Photoshop, which is a laughable notion for anything except web graphics. When newbies come to Linux, ask where the serious publishing apps are, and get pointed to the GIMP and StarOffice, you can hardly blame them for sticking with commercial apps.

      A huge step in the right direction would be the sort of droolproof, unified handling of fonts one sees in Windows and MacOS, especially if TrueType and Type1 fonts were managed through the same interface. On-screen antialiasing at the X level is another must. That we should still be lacking for this sort of fundamental GUI feature in 2001 is a clear sign that someone -- I wish I knew who -- still doesn't get the distinction between programmer/users and application users.

      • Your right... but (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bLitzfeuer (318604)

        Likewise with the people who can seriously suggest that the GIMP is a workable replacement for Photoshop, which is a laughable notion for anything except web graphics.

        Well not really laughable, but definitly not a viable replacement for some commercial use, I have to agree. The thing that gets to me about your post is that you just don't seem to realize these are small size development teams that produce these applications for linux. There are just a handfull of KOffice developers while in a commercial setting there would be whole developments departments and teams dedicated eight hours a day to just one application of an office package. Comparing one against the other us as unfair as comparing a Ferrari fundedFormula One car to the '67 Camaro with the rebuilt 427 your neigbor just dropped in. That said the very fact that some linux applications are actually competitive to commercial appz is awe inspiring, to say the least.

        The other thing that gets me about your post is that it's always the easiest to make wish-list or spot "the right direction". I'm sorry but unless your contrubiting, keep those thoughts to yourself or post them where developers can view them, /. already gets way too much of that and most developers don't read /. (if you dont beleive me look and the lack of posts in the developers only articles).

        end rand...

        Commercial solutions are on thier way. Hancom [hancom.com] is releasing what is seamingly (pre-emptive-screen-shot-only-assumption) a robust office package for linux, windows, mac os X. If you're looking for a microsoft alternative you may want to give them a shot.

      • Re:Yeah, I guess so (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Luyseyal (3154)
        Define "serious publishing apps".

        At university, LaTeX is the serious publishing app in my department. Different strokes for different folks. CMYK support in GIMP is a huge deal. I don't envy any of the poor souls who are navigating all the patents on that.

        But since we're speaking of publishing, a much larger problem than "lousy print support (you *can* do CMYK under Linux, but it's all done through ghostscript or gimp-print using printer-specific drivers, thus 'lousy' and not 'no')" is "no decent drawing program". We've got the photoshop, but not the Illustrator or Painter clone. I know about killustrator (or whatever it's called now), sketch, etc. but they are *much* further behind than GIMP. let's not even start on PageMaker and the rest.

        X has supported server side extensions for a very long time. XRender is getting more and more usage daily. Why don't you get a better window manager and a newer copy of X?

        Anti-aliasing is cheap in hardware these days, unlike when X was designed. But you have to look at the original philosophy of the design: network transparency. But I also question the philosophy that the display server knows better what to anti-alias than the client. How much overhead will client-specific messages about "do not AA this. do AA that" take up? Compared to VNC, X protocol is a speed daemon. I like it that way.

        I'm not trying to be a jerk, just pointing out some things.

        -l
    • Xrender (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bLitzfeuer (318604)


      Can someone *please* come up with a spec for overhauling font management in X? Overhauling X in general? Just steal display PDF from Apple/Adobe?

      Xrender [eax.com] is an extension to the X protocol implemented in XFree86 that is resposible for the anti-aliasing in Qt/KDE. It supports Porter/Duff operations for image composition (true alpha blending) and elements found in DisplayPDF (paths, transformations, etc...). A good introduction to Xrender ideas and why the current X protocol was "blundered" are here [xfree86.org]. I especially like the part:


      At one meeting, members of the X11 team looked around the table and discovered that not one of them had any clue about splines. Instead of doing something wrong, they left them out.

      That pretty much sums up the hackery that is the X Window System.

    • Re:Yeah, I guess so (Score:3, Informative)

      by Enahs (1606)
      Overhauling X in general? Just steal display PDF from Apple/Adobe?



      You might check into Display Ghostscript (uh, dunno if it can handle Display PDF stuff...yet... :-) or you might just want to check into the X extension that the current QT, future GTK+, and this current theme/lib uses, which is Xrender.

  • smear vaseline on your monitor. the text will appear just as blurry as if you were using 'font smoothing' under windows 98.
  • Stop-gap measure (Score:2, Informative)

    by wct (45593)

    I haven't seen it pointed out yet, but GDK/GTK 1.3 have had AA enabled for a while now, so this is very much an interim thing while we wait for the big gnome 2.0 release.



    I've tried it out a bit and generally liked it. There are some problems with font sizes in certain applications, where the font is now larger than the widget, but then again this may be due to the changed font preferences required. It takes a bit of fudging the configurations in Debian, and make sure you have a symlink /etc/X11/XF86Config to your /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 if you're running XF4.0, or the config script dies.

  • I really just don't see the point of anti-aliased fonts... Why the whole big concern over fonts that are slightly jagged. I'm perfectly happy with the normal fonts (although I wish there were more to choose from) and think they jook just fine.
    • by be-fan (61476)
      Well, just because it's okay for you don't mean its okay for everyone. Some people are just more sensitive to things than others. I think that AA fonts (good implementations, at least) look noticibly better than non-AA ones.

      For a great implementation of AA fonts, check out QNX's RtP. [qnx.com] The Font Fusion [bitstream.com] powered Photon has the most god-damn gorgeous fonts in the entire universe. Download RtP just to take an eyeful of the fonts!
  • by Cyph (240321)
    Didn't anybody notice the humour in this:
    Posted by timothy on Sun September 02, 16:04 from the smoothing-the-edges dept. McVeigh revels in this posting...
  • by /ASCII (86998)
    I've seen at least 3 post claiming that for medium resolution fonts (~10..16 pts) AA sucks. Instead of replying to all of them, I'll post this one comment:

    AA can, if overdone make medium sized fonts seem blury and hard to read. In the end, this is not a weakness in the idea of AA but in the implementation. For a good implementation of AA check out BeOS, medium sized fonts are (where) only slightly AA:ed, producing smooth but sharp-looking fonts. I belive this is done by using a single grayscale, and using a bias towards b/w. For very pretty but almost completely unreadable AA-fonts, check out MacOS.

  • Antialiased fonts are nice, but I'd prefer if someone fixed of the existing broken parts of Gnome instead.

    For example, fix the awkward text-selection mechanism in gnome-terminal. It's always half a character off compared to the "industry standard" way this should work. Go look at any Windows or Mac application and copy it's behavior.

    Or, implement any of the changes suggested in Sun's recent Gnome usability study. Each of those things are far more important than antialiased fonts.

    I appreciate the wonderful work that went into adding the antialiased fonts, but in the future, please concentrate more on fixing the crufty broken parts of Gnome rather than adding flashy new features. Thank you.

    Drew Olbrich
  • Why does this use LD_PRELOAD? Why not just patch GDK directly? Heck, why hasn't Xft support been integrated into a released version of GDK yet?
  • anti-aliasing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ender Ryan (79406)
    It's really funny(strange funny), I really like the way anti-aliased fonts look, just so much smoother and make the desktop so very pretty. For years I stared at anti-aliased fonts in windows, then I switched to Linux and didn't have them anymore, which I thought sucked but now I like it better simply because anti-aliased fonts make my eyes hurt. I had no idea what it was before, but, now I know what makes my eyes hurt more than anything while sitting at a computer.

    Anyone else dislike anti-aliased fonts for this reason. Granted, some fonts just look absolutely horrible if they're not anti-aliased, but good fonts don't need it.

  • by mwillems (266506) on Sunday September 02, 2001 @08:24PM (#2246809) Homepage
    I am the CTO of a company trying (desperately) to switch some people to Linux (all our servers are already Linux boxen), and I think this *is* a big deal. Here's why.

    Linux on the desktop is missing, in this order:

    1. File Conversion
    2. OLE - "cut and paste"
    3. Apps ("Office")
    4. Proper font support
    5. Integration of user interface
    6. Speed/efficiency.
    7. Platform standards

    Now notice, I am not the bad guys.. My home LAN has 7 Linux machines and one Win box. I desperately want to switch my company to OSS as fast as I can. I am hitting the above roadblocks - for a while. I'm pretty confident withing a few years we can overcome all this.

    For now, though, IE on Windows looks a whole lot better than Konqueror/Netscape/Mozilla on KDE or Gnome, largely due to fonts. That's what my colleague the CFO notices - this is therefore a major announcement.

    Michael

  • by staeci (85394)
    I have a old 14 inch ktx monitor with crap dot-pitch, thus I have full screen hardware anti-aliasing on everything ;-)
  • Where to start? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrfiddlehead (129279)
    Where do we start? How do we get our X server's properly configured? How about all the rest of our configuration files, from fstab, to exports, to modules.conf conf.modules, and sysconfig. Everything under /etc has a different format.

    We start by defining a common format, in XML, and use filters to convert between the old and the new formats for these files until the libraries are written to read/write the new formats from the applications that need them (backwards compatible filters would probably be a GOOD THING for a while, just to keep a version of these files around ... you could even have a daemon watching the files to decide if they've changed for those who go ahead and edit the old format.)

    The need for this is for simplification of configuration. A simple GUI (ala window's regedit) could be written to configure. I'm not suggesting that we should use a flatfile database like the windows registry. Not in the least. Just that every application should store its data in the same format and use the same configuration editor to tweak the guts and that the configuration should be stored in a common location under /etc to avoid conflicting with the legacy (excuse the term) application configuration files.

    Of course, this could be extended to user configuration for programs as well so that all configuration data ends up in one location under $HOME. This sure would be a nice way to backup one's configuration without jumping through hoops.

    Am I reinventing the wheel? Is anyone doing working towards doing something like this?

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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