I have been using Ubuntu for a while. I like it. I like it a lot.

But once in a while, when I switch to Windows, I feel better because I really like the font. It feels really much pleasant to watch windows font.

I installed windows fonts on my system and changed all the the default font settings to Tribuchet 10pt from Sans. It feels better, but still not as good. Oh, BTW, I love the default ubuntu console font. Monospace 10 really rocks. But Sans, oh please.

What is the default font on Windows. How do I enable it on Ubuntu. If it is paid, licensed, or illegal, I don't care, I just want better fonts on my Ubuntu system.

And, also, on a Laptop with LCD screen, should Sub-Pixel Smoothing be enabled?

Update: I tried different fonts for a while on my system, and I think I could do a lot better. I am far from satisfied.

  • The default Sans font, is Ugly, imho.
  • The Arial, Tribuchet MS and some other MS fonts, don't render properly, Tribuchet MS has a problem with e. An extra line on top. I hate it.
  • The good windows fonts Tahoma, Segoe, Callbiri, Cambria all render poorly, due to lack of cleartype.
  • Trying to use this xml, in .fonts.conf that is supposed to magically make rendering smooth, does nothing more than turn on sub pixel smoothing.

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

  • Turning on sub-pixel smoothing makes the font bold at the cost of clear shapes, it is a turn off. The otherwise awesome Monospace font also looks bad.

What is the best font I can have on my Ubuntu system. It is alright if it is commercial and expensive. I could do with better font typefaces.

  • When choosing the subpixel ordering for your monitor see lagom.nl/lcd-test/subpixel.php for sample images and text generated for each of the four layout possibilities (RGB, VRGB, BGR, VBGR) - that page also has the helpful advice that the default of RGB is usually right (and it was for me) Apr 14, 2015 at 9:31

7 Answers 7


I also like Windows fonts much better than the defaults on any Linux distributions. Well, at least the Windows XP default, Tahoma. (Also, I prefer no antialiasing at all for small font sizes, when using good TrueType fonts. Your mileage may vary!)

These days I find it very easy to get nice fonts in Ubuntu. (Gone are the days of needing to recompile Freetype with a certain option (I forget which) to get them right.)

Steps I took when last installing Ubuntu afresh

  1. Put your TrueType fonts (.ttf files from Windows installation or e.g. the Microsoft Core Fonts package legally available on the web) in some directory, e.g. /usr/local/winfonts.
  2. Edit /etc/fonts/local.config and add your winfont dir:

    <?xml version="1.0"?>
    <!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
    <!-- /etc/fonts/fonts.conf file to configure system font access -->
            <!-- Font directory list -->
  3. Run sudo fc-cache -fv to rebuild font information cache files. (Nowadays there's no need to create files like fonts.scale, fonts.dir or fonts.alias using ttmkfdir or other utilities!)

Then configure Tahoma 8 as the default font in your desktop environment (KDE's control centre for me; equally easy in the Gnome equivalent)

And that's it.

Alternative way

Another way is to simply install msttcorefonts package from Universe and run fc-cache, as instructed in this post on Ubuntu Blog.

The core fonts package doesn't include Tahoma though. But if you have it from other sources, copying the .ttf files to ~/.fonts/ (or /usr/local/share/fonts for system wide availability) before running fc-cache should be sufficient.

  • 1
    Also, if you prefer KDE but still use some GTK applications (e.g. Firefox), you'll probably want to go to Control Center -> Appearance & Themes -> GTK Styles and Fonts and choose "KDE style" and "KDE fonts" for GTK apps.
    – Jonik
    Jan 15, 2010 at 16:31
  • And personally I find that having gnome-settings-daemon running makes the font sizes just right. (I don't know why exactly, and YMMV.)
    – Jonik
    Jan 15, 2010 at 16:40
  • For those who, like me, prefer TrueType fonts with no antialiasing, also check out this problem which I just got solved: superuser.com/questions/54216/… With that advice you can make some websites look a lot better on Linux.
    – Jonik
    Feb 12, 2010 at 7:51
  • 2
    I do as your guide (install mscorefonts) and fc-cache then set fonts in Appearance -> Fonts (my system is Ubuntu 10.4) But the font still does not look as good as your image. Did you have any additional steps such as settings in Firefox ?
    – ramcrys
    Mar 8, 2013 at 10:54
  • @ramcrys: Hmm, possibly... Try looking into Firefox's font settings, and set "Serif" font to Times New Roman & "Sans-serif" to Arial.
    – Jonik
    Mar 8, 2013 at 17:09

I believe the default font is either:

  • Windows XP: Tahoma
  • Windows Vista / Windows 7: Segoe UI

You may also like Calibri. That's a nice font too.

Since you mentioned you have a windows system, you should be able to grab these licensed fonts without any drama.

  • 1
    Calibri looks like crap under Ubuntu for me, for some reason. It looks great on Windows though.
    – Annath
    Aug 8, 2009 at 0:47
  • 3
    @Annath: ClearType. Windows has it, Unbuntu/Linux doesn't. Aug 8, 2009 at 0:51
  • @Annath So what looks good on Ubuntu? Tribuchet?
    – lprsd
    Aug 8, 2009 at 1:12
  • 11
    Jordan: That's nonsense. The difference comes not from subpixel rendering or lack thereof (Linux has that, by the way). The difference lies in the fact that FreeType can't use the TrueType hinting in the fonts for licensing reasons, so they do auto-hinting – which works great on fonts without any display hints but looks ugly on msot fonts that are very carefully hinted, like most Windows fonts nowadays are.
    – Joey
    Aug 8, 2009 at 1:26
  • I'm using the Liberation Sans and it looks pretty good.
    – chris
    Sep 8, 2009 at 23:39

I do recommend enabling Sub-pixel smoothing, makes it much easier on your eyes. Unfortunately, Firefox doesn't seem to use sub pixel smoothing, atleast for me.


On an LCD you should definitely enable Sub pixel smoothing. It uses the sub pixels (the red green blue) to triple your horizontal resolution for fonts. In theory this adds some color fringing, but because the eye likes brightness more than color, you don't see it.

Sorry, I can't say much about the Windows fonts.


I use Bitstream Vera fonts on Firefox. It's still not as good as it looks on Windows, but its a whole lot better than how it used to look.

This is what Wikipedia has to say:

Vera is a typeface (font) with a liberal license. It was designed by Jim Lyles from Bitstream, and is closely based on Bitstream's Prima, for which Lyles was also responsible. It is a TrueType font with full hinting instructions, which improve its rendering quality on low-resolution devices such as computer monitors.

Although Vera itself covers only common punctuation and the Latin alphabet with some diacritics, its license allows others to make and distribute derivative works with some restrictions, and the DejaVu fonts project is expanding it with additional glyphs and styles. With over 80% installation base, the DejaVu fonts have been gaining on the role as sans-serif default fonts in GNU/Linux. On Windows and Macintosh systems, DejaVu is however practically unknown, whereas Bitstream Vera Sans has installation bases of 25% and 20% there, and 79% on Unix, according to a survey.

Below is a screenshot of how Firefox looks with this font. Sub-pixel smoothing is also enabled.

enter image description here


See also: Texts Rasterization Exposures by Maxim Shemanarev. I don't know if any Linux distribution is doing what he suggests.


Recent solution (2020)

sudo pico /etc/fonts/conf.d/20-no-embedded.conf

paste this in /etc/fonts/conf.d/20-no-embedded.conf

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

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/Fedora/comments/dzg74b/bad_small_font_rendering_with_microsoft_fonts/

It is probably better to stay away from MS fonts in possible and find standard replacementent for each font. Although this requires manual work and some fonts (e.g. Corbel) do not have well defined replacements AFAIK.

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