A coworker found this buried in an Ars Technica forum, and I'm spreading the news because it really does make a significant difference.
If your TrueType fonts on OpenOffice/StarOffice suck ass, obtain a copy of FreeType2 and enable the bytecode interpreter (instructions are in the tarball) -- Debian's FreeType2 has this already enabled from what I hear.
in your soffice shell script, add
(on my system it is in /usr/local/lib)
I added this just under the comment describing how to disable antialiasing altogether, but pretty much anywhere in the file will do. Now when you run SO/OO you will be overriding the grid-based hinting that OO's freetype library uses in favour of the bytecode interpreter that does FAR better at hinting and placement.
has before and after shots. An added bonus is that it seems to better listen to your XftConfig file as well.
OpenOffice disabled the bytecode interpreter because of Adobe patent issues (go to the FreeType site and look at the patent link) -- I don't know why StarOffice doesn't pay the royalty and increase the price of the software by the same amount, the difference in font quality is stunning.