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Reflections from a Swede in Norway.

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In my blog, I write about the general unfairness of life, about spam mail, vintage computers, board games, Norwegians, current and not-so-current affairs, technology and whatever else occurs to me — in other words, a glorious mess. All opinion expressed here are of course my own, and all similarities with any living people is of course intentional.

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Disabling anti-aliasing in X

Published: Wednesday 2005-06-01.

For some reason that I do not quite get, everyone seems to be loving anti-aliasing of text that is displayed on screen. Personally I think it is quite terribly bad, at least for text in normal body type size, I keep having problems focusing the text – it simply feels like I was trying to read the text without having my glasses on. It works well for images, but not for text.

Since everyone else does seem to love it, it is by default enabled in most Linux distributions, and is not always that easy to disable. But now I have looked around for a while and found a couple of tips that I thought I would write down, both as a reference for myself in the future, and for others that do not like it either.

In modern versions of Gnome, there is a setting for disabling anti-aliasing, in version 2.8 that I have installed I find it under Foot menu → Applications → Desktop Preferences → Font.

[Font Preferences in Gnome]

I assume that it is also configurable from KDE, but since I do not run that myself, I cannot answer how to configure it there. However, I did find a discussion in a web forum on how to disable it globally for fontconfig, which seems to work with most X software; by adding the following lines to /etc/fonts/local.conf (create the file if it does not exist already) the fuzziness disappears from text in the font sizes where it does most harm:

 <!-- Turn off antialiasing for fonts in the 9-16 pt. range -->
 <match target="font">
 <test qual="all" name="size" compare="more">
 <test qual="all" name="size" compare="less">
 <edit name="antialias" mode="assign">

With that line in my freshly updated Debian system my eyes no longer hurt, of which I am thankful.

This entry is referenced in: Disabling anti-aliasing in Windows.

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  • Date: 2005-06-05 07.49.25 CEST
  • Name: Bela
  • Posted from: ******************

Forgive the dumb question, but: which selection(s) in the list of "Monochrome", "Best shapes", "Best contrast" and "Subpixel smoothing (LCDs)" represent antialiasing?

After some close examination, I would have to say that the "Best contrast" example looks the best on this monitor (17" Dell E773c CRT @1152x864). But of course that is only my personal experience.


  • Date: 2005-06-05 15.09.55 CEST
  • Name: Peter Karlsson
  • Posted from: ************

Bela, all of the three options other than "Monochrome" are anti-aliasing, they're just using different techniques for it. Which one you prefer if usually very individual.

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