Better looking font on LCD's in lenny easy way

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Re: Better looking font on LCD's in lenny easy way

Postby julian67 » 2009-09-20 23:29

EvilGuru wrote:The characters, C, D and M in the screenshot you posted would all look much nicer with subpixel rendering.


I'm starting to get the feeling that I'm on one side of the looking glass and some other people are on the other.....

'nicer'

What does this mean? Can it be defined? Can it be demonstrated? Can someone show what is deficient in the letters C,D & M as is?

What special qualities do the letters C, D & M have (or lack) that they would benefit while the other letters deserve no mention?

And the trouble with sub-pixel rendering is that it introduces colour artefacts that more than negate any other benefits it might have. That's not an OS issue, it's there on Windows as well. Apparently a lot of people don't notice or care about a colour fringe and poor edge definition but it always looks quite apparent to me, and very strange. Perhaps reading too many printed books with black text on white(ish) background has somehow blinded me to the benefits of ill defined text with a colour fringe.....

So now I've heard that the byte code interpreter is absolutely required and also that it's 'evil' and also that it's the wrong kind.

Can anyone offer an objective, reasoned, response to my earlier question "can anyone point out or describe the legibility issue in the screenshots I posted, which are 1:1 jpgs from my screen? "

Answering "something else would be nicer/better" is not a good answer because it tells me nothing, it demonstrates nothing, it offers no comparison, it offers no method for comparison.

But I visited your site (and remembered to change the browser preferences so it displays fonts how you want, not how I want) and I can see the difference and your screenshot does demonstrate the fonts being rendered better than when I visit your site for real, but it seems to be particular to certain fonts. And I prefer to choose fonts I find easy to read so by default I have browsers set to use my choices not someone else's. Actually your site is very legible by default but many are not, the authors seeming to prefer effect to function....I wish there was such an easy fix for all those sites who use white text over black background, or grey on blue or anything made by an emo or a goth.......
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Re: Better looking font on LCD's in lenny easy way

Postby EvilGuru » 2009-09-21 08:53

julian67 wrote:What does this mean? Can it be defined? Can it be demonstrated? Can someone show what is deficient in the letters C,D & M as is?

What special qualities do the letters C, D & M have (or lack) that they would benefit while the other letters deserve no mention?

The C and D are noticeable as they have large, shallow curves. The M has two diagonals. All three have the property that it is possible to tell which parts of them are anti-aliased. The ability to break a character down into anti-aliased and non-anti-aliased parts is not ideal.

julian67 wrote:And the trouble with sub-pixel rendering is that it introduces colour artefacts that more than negate any other benefits it might have. That's not an OS issue, it's there on Windows as well. Apparently a lot of people don't notice or care about a colour fringe and poor edge definition but it always looks quite apparent to me, and very strange. Perhaps reading too many printed books with black text on white(ish) background has somehow blinded me to the benefits of ill defined text with a colour fringe.....

It is no so much of an OS issue but an implementation issue. Windows is known for quite bad colour fringes (namely green fringes on letters such as 'l'). Mac OS X is much better and on a par with Linux (with the aforementioned patches).

So now I've heard that the byte code interpreter is absolutely required and also that it's 'evil' and also that it's the wrong kind.

julian67 wrote:Can anyone offer an objective, reasoned, response to my earlier question "can anyone point out or describe the legibility issue in the screenshots I posted, which are 1:1 jpgs from my screen? "

There are no legibility issues. However, if you disabled anti-aliasing completely there would also be no legibility issues. But, if you own an LCD screen it is possible to improve the rendering, by effectively giving you three times the horizontal resolution.

A couple of really good articles on the topic is the one by Steve Gibson (love him or hate him, the article is well written): http://www.grc.com/ct/cleartype.htm and the other by the lead-dev of AGG: http://www.antigrain.com/research/font_ ... index.html

For those that are interested in such font rendering I'll post a list later of all of the patches required on my Gentoo system (FreeType, Cairo, Xft and Fontconfig all need to be patched).

Regards, Freddie.
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Re: Better looking font on LCD's in lenny easy way

Postby julian67 » 2009-09-21 09:07

EvilGuru wrote:It is no so much of an OS issue but an implementation issue. Windows is known for quite bad colour fringes (namely green fringes on letters such as 'l'). Mac OS X is much better and on a par with Linux (with the aforementioned patches).


Thanks for the links, and the screenshot of your site. So far that's the only really good "I can see the difference without trying or wondering if I'm imagining it" comparison I've seen, and your page's patched fonts do definitely look much nicer than the unpatched ones.

On the subject of colour fringing I really don't like it. In Windows it is very noticeable, comically so, and while it's less apparent in free software it still looks bad, like a photo taken with a plastic lens. I don't have a Mac to compare so I'll take your word for it that it's similar. But I think I prefer good old black text without the colours and to disrespect webmasters and designers everywhere by only allowing to display the fonts I find pleasant/readable/clear. I imagine this whole issue only really matters to some of the people who produce content, not the consumer?
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Re: Better looking font on LCD's in lenny easy way

Postby EvilGuru » 2009-09-22 17:46

Okay. Here is the list of patches that are applied by the dev-null Gentoo overlay. The provide, without a doubt, the highest quality subpixel rendering I've seen on Linux.

Cairo
  • http://hg.core.ws/devnull/file/c7e862bd2c0a/x11-libs/cairo/files/cairo-1.2.4-lcd-cleartype-like.diff The much talked of patch.
  • http://hg.core.ws/devnull/file/c7e862bd ... nfig.patch Fixes an annoying GNOME bug which causes Cairo to no respect the settings in font config.

Xft

Fontconfig

Freetype
  • Just needs to be compiled with FT_CONFIG_OPTION_SUBPIXEL_RENDERING, may already be so.

While the Cairo and Xft patches are slightly different to those applied by the Ubuntu maintainers they serve a similar purpose.

As for why I'm posting after quite a long period of inactivity. Well, a few days back I purchased myself a new laptop with the intent of running GNU/Linux on it. My previous laptops have always been Macs and my desktops have always run Gentoo. However, I would be a lot more comfortable running Debian on my new laptop (less installation issues etc) and dislike the long release cycle of Ubuntu. But, font rendering is paramount to me, so I went off to check what the subpixel rendering on Debian is like. The search feature brought me here.

Guess if I want subpixel rendering I've either got to patch the packages myself for Debian or stick with what I know (Gentoo + unofficial overlay/repository).

Regards, Freddie.
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Re: Better looking font on LCD's in lenny easy way

Postby EvilGuru » 2009-09-23 17:21

Good news. All of the above patches apply cleanly to the latest dpkg's in Squeeze. Installing the packages with dpkg -i results in beautiful subpixel fonts. (Although dpkg -i seems like a kludge to me :)

However, I did run into a minor issue when patching fontconfig. The patch adds several configuration options in /etc/fonts/conf.d/. But for some reason these are not present in the dpkg. I am unsure why however suspect it is because the Makefile is not being regenerated from Makefile.am

I'd be interested if anyone wants the packages (or help building them themselves) or can help me with my fontconfig issue.

Regards, Freddie.
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