I always see people complaining about Ubuntu's fonts and font-rendering. I don't get it. Could someone please tell me exactly what is wrong?
Ubuntu has some pre-set font settings: Monochrome, Best Shapes, Best Contrast, and Subpixel Smoothing. These are equivalent to certain settings found when the Details button is clicked. They are as follows:
- Monochrome → No smoothing, Full hinting
- Best Shapes → Greyscale smoothing, Medium hinting
- Best Contrast → Greyscale smoothing, Full hinting
- Subpixel Smoothing (LCD) → Subpixel smoothing, Full hinting
I decided it was time to do a comparison of the renderings. I often see people suggesting turning on Subpixel Smoothing for LCDs, but I never do this. I use the Best Contrast setting, which looks like this:
Compare to the Subpixel Smoothing setting:
I always thought the Subpixel Smoothing setting was blurry. It seemed like the verticals weren't truly vertical and the diagonals were getting lost a bit. But now, looking at it, it looks like there's actually better contrast on the Subpixel Smoothing setting. At least, the text looks darker. And yes, the diagonal on the "w" is less "jagged" as I've heard people call it, and maybe it's because of days I spent making cartoon dollz, but I kind of like seeing pixels. Though now that I've moved away from my beloved 800x600 resolution, I don't think I can accurately count pixels anymore. Maybe not seeing the pixels is what makes the subpixel setting seem less sharp.
Best Contrast is joined by Best Shapes in using grayscale smoothing. Here's Best Shapes:
And here are the other two grayscale-smoothing settings. The first is with no hinting. The second is with slight hinting.
The Subpixel Smoothing option, as mentioned before defaults to Full hinting. In order, here are no hinting, slight hinting, and medium hinting:
And, finally, here is the Monochrome setting. It's very pixelated, but try changing it to "no hinting," and it's even worse.
Here's the side-by-side comparison:
(Click image to view full-size)