Everyone has their preference on how they think fonts should be rendered. If you’re not happy with the appearance of fonts on your system there are a few easy tweaks to try for better rendering.

Your first stop is the GNOME’s configuration settings for fonts, located in System->Preferences->Appearance under the Fonts tab. If you’re using an LCD display make sure you have the subpixel smoothing rendering mode enabled. Click Details to get access to the hinting options. Play around with these to get a result you like.

Here’s a sample of my system’s fonts configured with these settings:
fonts with simple settings

There are many more options for font rendering available with a .fonts.conf file. This file, from this forum post, turns on a hinting feature that is usually disabled due to patent issues with Apple.

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

Copy and paste the text above into a text file, and save it in your home directory as .fonts.conf (note the first period, this file will be hidden). Log out for the changes to take effect. Here’s a sample of fonts with this file:
fonts with .fonts.conf

A more complex .fonts.conf file, available for download at this site, produces very smooth and bold fonts similar to those in OS X. Here’s a sample:
fonts smooth and bold

For now I’ll be using the simple .fonts.conf file, the differences between it and the default are subtle but it seems to make text clearer. Are you satisfied with font rendering on your Linux system?

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