Re: Speaking of fonts...

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On Sun, 2006-07-09 at 14:31 -0400, Tom Horsley wrote:
> I think I know what the real problem is with getting good font
> display by default. There isn't enough information in the
> xorg.conf file to scale the fonts properly. It came to me
> when thinking about this, that the bigger your monitor, the
> farther back you tend to sit.

While that *may* be true, I'm not really sure what you're referring to
as "good" font display and scaling.  For me, good font rendering would
be smooth fonts above a certain size, and not trying to draw fonts with
too few pixels for small font sizes (a problem with complex font
designs, or anti-aliasing techniques).

> The algorithms rampant in the various font systems on linux
> seem to scale based on a linear algorithm considering
> only dots per inch, and not taking into account how far
> away from the monitor you probably sit.

Dots per inch ought to be taken into consideration for a couple of

How many pixels are available for rendering a font (i.e. rougher
rendering or smoother rendering, to get the same size of font on the

And getting the expected size of a font on a screen (i.e. 12 pt text
ought to be the same size text on every screen).  Likewise, one ought to
be able to specify 2cm sized text, and get it.

Something like 20 pixel text is a harder thing to resolve.  Do you
genuinely mean 20 pixels in size (allowing appropriate fitting of text
to graphics), or something else?

> We either need xorg.conf to include a new DistanceFromMonitor
> parameter that can be factored into the font scaling, or
> we just need the scalaing algorithms to use a heuristic that
> guesses you are likely to be sitting farther away the larger
> your monitor is (or both - it might be nice to have a relatively
> small monitor, but inform X you are gonna be looking at it
> from across the room, so it needs to scale the fonts way up,
> so a heuristic wouldn't necessarily always work, but could be
> a good default).

I can see automating that failing in a number of ways:

I sit further back from my VDU because I can't stand the flickering, but
my eyesight is good enough that I have fonts the same size as most other
people (i.e. somewhere around the default settings), or even smaller
(because I want to fit more in the screen).

Many of us might pick a 12 pt font size hoping to get what we know as 12
pt text (as printed, or as per a typewriter).  It's best if the screen
display comes up with the same size.  We're free to pick any size text
we want on the screen, but having 1:1 size rendering helps in making
practical choices.

A projector might be well away from the screen, and you wouldn't want
text zooming on top of the other changes that happen.

Some of us use larger screens to fit more in the space, and having
something else increase the size of everything defeats the objective.
Some of us use larger screens to get more refined detail of the same
object, likewise for picking higher resolutions on the same size screen.

Traditional computers seem to mess up the interaction, and definitions
of resolution and screen size.

I consider it more practical that font sizing choices render fonts at
the size you specify (not some interpretation).  That screen resolution
is used to determine how fine the detail can be drawn in the space, not
the size of things.  And that screen dimensions get properly taken into
account to understand that x pixels covers x centimetres, and have x
pixels to draw within that space.

(Currently running FC4, occasionally trying FC5.)

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored.
I read messages from the public lists.

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