It has been quite a long time since I have installed debian jessy as my primary OS on laptop with the possibility to load Windows 10 when I wish, especially for those magical Adobe Cloud applications, which slowly are being changed by inscape and gimp. One of the things that I was constantly noticing on Debian was – terrible font rendering. When I say terrible, I mean it really is. The worst thing, many new linux users usually go to other “neibourhood” once they enter “uglyish” UI world of fresh debian install. As some philosophers state art and beauty stimulates better parts of ourselves, hence nice UI is helping to achieve better things with our operating system as a tool. Here I want to share how I have managed to put an end to this and achieved great font rendering for debian jessy xfce environment, pixel perfect, native linux style, not some ugly tuning, tinkering, or os x imitating. Of course, thanks to community who have provided great and easy to install tool “infinality”
First things first, to begin we need to know what is out screen’s native DPI. To do that we can use the following site: http://dpi.lv/
We would need to type native screen resolution, and diagonal. All of this information could be available in manufacturers website or product manual.
Next, once we know what is correct DPI, we need to set it up in Settings / appearance / fonts (xfce desktop environment). Once we do that, fonts and visual elements will increase in size. If fonts look too big, we would need to go to the same settings and decrease font size.
Now we are ok to use external tool “infinality” available at:
Please follow instructions on the web site and install the tool as copied from website bellow:
(debian repos) echo "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/no1wantdthisname/ppa/ubuntu trusty main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/infinality.list echo "deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/no1wantdthisname/ppa/ubuntu trusty main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/infinality.list sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys E985B27B
(ubuntu) sudo add-apt-repository ppa:no1wantdthisname/ppa (both) sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade sudo apt-get install fontconfig-infinality
Run the setup (preferably set linux style once prompted):
sudo bash /etc/fonts/infinality/infctl.sh setstyle
Once all these instructions are completed, we need to set manually DPI to infinality settings file:
sudo -H gedit /etc/profile.d/infinality-settings.sh
Find in the file “DPI=” and set to your screen’s true dpi. (in my case it was 100, not 96)
Once its all done, save the file, reboot your system (or log in and log out). Last thing make sure settings / appearances / font / hinting section is set to slight, this will align nicely all font pixels to screen pixels without breaking the natural font style. Full hinting on other hand will make best possible alignment to screen pixels making fonts very sharp, but this will break the intended font look, making characters out of shape. That’s why OS X have quite blurry fonts, as this is the only way to preserve the look and feel of the font. On another hand windows has very sharp fonts, yet fonts that still have their true shape. This makes it good for long hour readability as well as aesthetics.
Hopefully that would help someone to unleash the debian beast and use it as desktop os for productive work.