Ubuntu Install Log 2: Beautification of the Gnome Desktop

Step 1: Turn on auto-hinting

Turning on auto-hinting will make the fonts look smoother and hence, beautiful. To do this, I did:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig

I selected auto-hinter in the first screen that appeared. For the rest, I left the default as such.

Step 2: Get some good fonts

I like the default fonts that ship with the major OSs. For example, Segoe UI on Vista and Lucida Grande in OS X. I got Segoe UI when I installed Office 2007. I grabbed it from Windows XP fonts folder from the Windows partition. For Lucida Grande, I Googled and got it. I copied these two font sets to my fonts folder and changed the font preferences as below:

Font Preferences

(You can open your fonts folder by clicking on "Details…" and then selecting "Go to font folder" in the next dialog)

Step 3: Get a nice wallpaper

The default brown wallpaper is just plain dull and gloomy. I got a tangy orange wallpaper as mentioned in this post.

After all these rather simple modifications, my desktop looks like this:

With new fonts
Isn't that gorgeous?

My next task is to get the multimedia and p2p applications going. That is in my next post.

5 thoughts on “Ubuntu Install Log 2: Beautification of the Gnome Desktop

  1. That does look nice. I still find that I prefer the look of fonts in Windows and OS X to Linux. I have yet to see a Linux system where the fonts looked as nice as a commercial OS. Even when installing msttcorefonts or whatever.

    That of course is a minor quibble. I still run Ubuntu at home and I really like it.

    Maybe the next step to advance Linux to the masses is not programming – maybe a good font designer needs to design some really awesome fonts with an open source license. Heck, there’s a good chance that these are out there already and I just haven’t come across them yet. If you know of any, please email me!

  2. Hmmm. I just took a closer look and noticed that my favorite part in your screenshot is the window title and that’s the one place where you used Lucida Grande from OS X. I spend most of my time on OS X. Interesting. Maybe I just need to copy over some more OS X fonts and do a bit more customization. Maybe I’m just not into the Segoe font since I’ve never played with Vista.

  3. You are right. One of the initial problems people had with Linux are the poor quality fonts and rendering. Font sets like "Bitstream" try to solve this to an extent, but still we need lot of good quality fonts that we can use without paying through the nose.

    And regarding Lucida Grande, in fact, I did use it for everything initially. But the problem is it needs to be set to size 11 (the default size in OS X too) for it to look good. But, on the low resolution Laptop that I am using (1280×768), it really takes up lot of space.

  4. Nice post, i’ll have to try some of this stuff out… I wasn’t overly impressed with the shabby looking fonts in Ubuntu either!

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