Ugly Truetype font in GTK apps

Rubber Zhou zrubber at
Sun Feb 8 21:47:35 PST 2004

I haved completed the installation for X+Qt+KDE+Gtk in BLFS 5.0.

i did KDE Control Center=>System Administration=>font installer and 
installed the following fonts:

After I set tahoma as my default font, KDE's appearance is perfect. Fonts 
are crisp and they look as good as in windows. Openoffice can also recognize 
those fonts, the interface is using tahoma and i can type in Times New 
Roman. All fonts look fantastic.

but fonts in gtk2.0 apps don't have the same crisp look as they do in KDE 
and openoffice.
I have tested gtk depended apps such as Gaim 0.75 and ethereal, and fonts in 
them all have the same problem. After i have googled around, i'm pretty sure 
that what causes the truetype fonts in gtk app to look ugly is that fonts 
are not subpixel hinted (i'm using a Laptop w/ LCD).

Then i uncommment the stuff in /etc/fonts/local.conf that is supposed to 
enable subpixel hinting. But fonts in Gaim still look ugly as they were 

Since i'm using a LFS system, i bring up the BLFS 5.0 book and trace the GTK 
dependency. I find that GTK depends on Pango which does the text rendering 
for GTK and I found that i forgot to set the environment variable 
PKG_CONFIG_PATH to /usr/X11R6/lib/pkgconfig after i have installed X. 
Without setting the PKG_CONFIG_PATH, pango won't recognize Freetype 2 which 
handles fonts in X. I am sure that Freetype 2 is working because otherwise i 
wouldn't get crisp truetypes fonts in KDE. So i recompile pango, make 
uninstall the existing version, and install the new version. Then i 
recompile and reinstall GTK 2.2.4 and gaim 7.5. But after all that, fonts in 
Gaim haven't changed a bit. It seems that no matter what i put in 
/etc/fonts/local.conf, fonts in GTK apps remain the same. I also try to sync 
the ~/.fonts.conf w/ /etc/fonts/local.conf, but doesn't seem to help either.

I am stuck. Appreciate any help in advance.

Here's my /etc/fonts/local.conf
?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
<!-- /etc/fonts/local.conf file for local customizations -->

<match target="font">
<edit name="rgba" mode="assign"><const>rgb</const></edit>

My ~/.gtkrc-2.0 (specifies which font GTK apps use in their interfaces)

gtk-entry-select-on-focus = 1
#style "user-font"
# font_name = "Tahoma 12"

#widget_class "*" style "user-font"
#commented sections i am told are deprecated.

gtk-font-name = "Tahoma 12"

#gtk-key-theme-name = "Emacs"

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