Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What program or configuration is responsible for making fonts sharp and clear?

share|improve this question
We call it Subpixel-Smoothing. See: – omnidan Jun 21 '11 at 9:59
@Daniel0108, post an answer. – Oxwivi Jun 21 '11 at 10:18
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Both systems, Microsoft's ClearType and FreeType, use Subpixel Rendering, which utilises the RGB subpixels on your TFT display to make the glyphs appear sharper and improve their form.

One important difference is that Windows tries much harder to fit the font into 'the pixel grid', which is why it looks 'sharper', at the expense of the glyphs' contours:

ClearType also uses very heavy font hinting to force the font to fit into the pixel grid. This increases edge contrast and readability of small fonts at the expense of font rendering fidelity and has been criticised by graphic designers for making different fonts look similar.
from Wikipedia's ClearType

share|improve this answer
Thank you for the information summary. I like the Ubuntu method more, btw. Not just because it's open, I like it because it looks smoother and it's easier to read. Am I allowed to add your post to the wiki? – omnidan Jun 21 '11 at 15:17

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.