Improved subpixel font rendering for Feisty Fawn/Hardy Heron

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FreeType developer David Turner posted some patches for Cairo and Xft that improved the rendering of fonts on LCD screens (but also CRTs with Trinitron layout). These were put up with the proviso that he was unsure whether they would infringe patented algorithms around Microsoft’s ClearType technology.

The most recent patches by David have been incorporated into a series of packages that replace the libraries libreetype6, libcairo2 and libxft2 on Edgy. The patches move the filtering from Xft and Cairo to Freetype with the effect that letters have less color fringing and more faithful letter outlines. This is achieved by more advanced subpixel filtering methods and getting rid of stem quantization. Some people dislike this kind of “hack” visually, but for many it is a good trade-off of letter contrast and font aesthetics.

First you need to edit the /etc/apt/sources.list file

sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

add the following lines

deb feisty fonts
deb-src feisty fonts

For amd64 binaries use add the following lines

deb feisty experimental
deb-src feisty experimental

Alternative repository, for experimental builds only.

deb feisty experimental
deb-src feisty experimental

Save the file and exit

Now you need to add the following gpg keys

wget -O- | sudo apt-key add --


gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 937215FF

gpg --export --armor 937215FF | sudo apt-key add -

GPG key to RAOF's repository (amd64 packages)

wget -O- | sudo apt-key add --

Now you need to run the following command

sudo apt-get update

Install the packages using the following command

sudo aptitude install libfreetype6 libcairo2 libxft2

After the install, you may want reconfigure font settings.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config

sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig

If you later decide to go back to Ubuntu packages, you must downgrade all three installed packages and You'll probably need to restart X-server after installing the packages to see the changes apply.

For hardy Heron Users

Method 1

go to a terminal and type the following command

sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config

Then I select "Autohinter", "Always" and "No" when prompted. I finish it up with

sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig

After that I restart X and my rendering is beautiful!

Method 2


LCD smoothing, then details. Hinting -- Slight.

Method 3

Try this nice procedure

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7 Responses

  1. Tigran says:

    Hey. Can you update this for Hardy Heron?

  2. admin says:

    I have updated for hardy heron

  3. Feri says:

    Does need for Hardy Heron users to add feisty repositories and install the following packages or just the “For hardy Heron Users” section?
    Thank You!

  4. admin says:


    You don’t have to add any repositories follow the instructions

  5. David Boring says:

    Thanks for updating for HH. You have changed my life.

  6. David Boring says:

    Oh, incidentally, when using Method 2, I get a message that the System Prefs app has crashed. Then my window title bar & controls go away. When I restart the X server things look fine, though.

  7. Tigran says:

    Any chances of updating this for 9.10 🙂

    I dont remember what difference this made, as the last time I used it was in 2008.

    Will this patch still work for newer releases of Ubuntu?


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