Microsoft’s TrueType fonts

Nowadays, almost all LinuxDistributions provide a Package that installs them. F.ex., on Debian/Ubuntu, you get them by installing the msttcorefonts package.

Enable or disable hinting

Put the following into your /etc/fonts/local.conf or ~/.fonts.conf to enable or disable automatic hinting. If you set it to false, fonts don't scale very well (it often defaults off for patent reasons). Set it to true and the fonts look smoother.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
  <match target="font">
    <edit name="autohint" mode="assign">

Substituting a nicer font for uglier ones

BitstreamVera is a free TrueType font specifically developed for FreeSoftware by GNOME and Bitstream (a company that makes fonts). They look much nicer than the default Luxi fonts (especially sans-serif) that RedHat use, so you can replace them with a simple substitution, either system wide in /etc/fonts/local.conf or ~/.fonts.conf for your user alone. (Google, find this page on how to change the default KDE font please!)

        <family>Bitstream Vera Sans</family>
        <family>Luxi Sans</family>
        <family>Albany AMT</family>
        <family>Nimbus Sans L</family>

Change the ordering to suit!

Miscellaneous Technical Notes

In the fonts.dir file, you can point different encodings (charsets) to the same physical file, BUT ONLY FOR SCALABLE FONTS. I spent quite a while trying to determine why my characters were wrong when I tried to do this for a bitmap font (eg a 75dpi one). It is the scalable font backends that do the magic here, not X itself.

KDE fonts

With Debian (and possibly other LinuxDistributions), fonts can be working fine in GNOME but not in KDE. Install the xfstt package (X font server for TrueType) and it will then use TrueType fonts.

See also