How to make fonts look good on Arch Linux

Texts can still look beautiful without Infinality patches

Let’s face it: the plain vanilla font rendering on Linux was horrible. For a long time, I had relied on Infinality patches for freetype2 and fontconfig to improve how texts looked on Arch Linux, and the result was impressive.

But then, the upstream of Infinality died. For some months now, I had been holding onto the patched freetype2 and fontconfig as I was unable to find an acceptable alternative, though it was obvious that I had to make do with the plain vanilla freetype and fontconfig at some point. Even though parts, if not all, of Infinality patches had been merged into freetype2, the texts remained quite ugly for some reason; not as ugly as the plain vanilla freetype2 used to look a year ago, perhaps, yet far from how the patched version looked. I was clearly missing something.

It turns out that although those patches have been merged into freetype2, they aren’t enabled by default. In order to enable “Infinality mode” in plain vanilla freetype2, edit /etc/profile.d/ to include the following line:

export FREETYPE_PROPERTIES="truetype:interpreter-version=38"

Then create the following symbolic links in /etc/fonts/conf.d if they aren’t already present:

ln -s ../conf.avail/10-hinting-slight.conf
ln -s ../conf.avail/10-sub-pixel-rgb.conf
ln -s ../conf.avail/11-lcdfilter-default.conf

With these few tweaks, the un-patched version looks identical to the patched one for truetype Latin script.

 Tech    26 Apr, 2017
 Linux    Arch Linux  
Copyright © Peter Y. Chuang 2019

Peter Y. Chuang is a Hong Kong-born novelist, short story writer, and a music critic who has lived in London at a time and now goes to Berlin semi-regularly for no good reason. When he’s not writing or reading, he’s probably playing with his cat, or listening to classical music, either at home or at one of the opera houses and concert halls in Germany. He uses Linux (current distro of choice: Arch Linux). Read more about his Linux stuff.

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