Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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

I just noticed that Windows renders text differently than Linux.


Why is that and what's the purpose of orange and blue "shadows"?

share|improve this question

migrated from Mar 19 '10 at 23:10

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Linux can be configured to look like Windows, with <fontconfig><match target="font"><edit name="rgba" mode="assign"><const>rgb</const></edit></match></fontconfig> – ephemient Dec 15 '09 at 18:37
Thanks for all the useful answers! – Simon Ottenhaus Dec 15 '09 at 18:43
Good question and good answers, but as stated and answered not really a programming topic... – dmckee Dec 16 '09 at 0:56
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Windows ClearType (also an option on Linux and Mac) optimises for LCD displays which have subpixels in an RGB layout to increase the horizontal resolution thrice-fold. Hence you end up with orange/blue "thin pixels" to enhance the rendering of the text where necessary. They're not shadows, but look funny when zoomed in. They're using a trick of the display medium to enhance text rendering resolution.

It looks like your Linux set up is currently set up with standard anti-aliasing, which is better for CRT displays, and where you want to smooth text in both directions. It also looks good on high DPI displays where ClearType gets less relevant.

share|improve this answer

The article on wikipedia about Subpixel rendering might interest you, about that, I suppose.

And, about windows, you can take a look on the ClearType one.

share|improve this answer

Where did these samples come from? It appears to just be a different choice in how the font anti-aliasing was done.

share|improve this answer
The ubuntu sample is from a virtual machine. – Simon Ottenhaus Dec 15 '09 at 18:06
sorry, which application on the VM? – GrayWizardx Dec 15 '09 at 18:09
Firefox in both cases – Simon Ottenhaus Dec 15 '09 at 18:44

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.