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By cathectic at 2005-02-09 07:28
LCD/TFT Monitor Configuration in X.Org
by Carlos Corbacho ( user: cathectic)


I only have one monitor to test this with. The results back have been mixed so far from others. If there is nothing wrong with your display, please don't go mucking about with your .fonts.conf file (at least, back it up first). If you do have problems with your LCD display, then this is a good bet to try. If you have any success or failure, please do report this back, and changes, if any, that you made to your .fonts.conf file and any other file (perhaps /etc/X11/xorg.conf?) Comments, corrections and thoughts are always welcome.

This may well also work with XFree86 > 3.3, since they use the same font configuration files as this. Older versions have a non-XML font configuration setup ( I don't know when the switch over was made though), and I will *not* cover this.


1) Prologue
2) Introduction
3) Thanks
4) What You'll Need
5) Physical Setup
6) Settings
7) Thoughts
Non TrueType fonts
8) Appendix A
9) Bibliography

1. Prologue

The scenario: On 10th November 2004, my Sony CPD-210EST 17" CRT monitor reached the end of its life. At 11:13am (GMT) 11th November, it was declared DOA. In its place, since no one really sells decent CRT monitors any more, I replaced it with a Hyundai Q17+ 17" LCD/TFT monitor.

2. Introduction

LCD/TFTs display fonts very differently to a CRT. If you have a distribution that can deal with this all, then great. If not, with default settings on X.Org/Freetype, the results for fonts are painful to say the least. This is further compounded by the fact that all the 'helpful' HOWTOs out there are badly out of date, referring to ancient versions of the now defunct XFree86. Whilst there are a few sites out there with bits of information, no one site has put together a workable solution specifically for an LCD on a modern distribution.

This exists, therefore, to show the naysayers that they're wrong, and that you _can_ enjoy nice looking fonts in Linux.

(Please note, this is _not_ an exhaustive HOWTO, and it is _not_ a HOWTO about .fonts.conf (please see my Bibliography for a site detailing the tags available in .fonts.conf. This HOWTO is only about configuring an LCD and what works best for one))

3. Thanks

Transformer, The

by Bruce Hill on Wed, 2005-02-09 22:24

Thanks for the article! I'm short on time to tweak
at the moment, but want to make a comment on
the brief reading I've done so far. You mention
Plug up your LCD. Where possible, use the DVI-D
(i.e. The digital, not analogue VGA) connector.
IMO this should be clarified. Some LCD monitors, such
as my Philips 150B4, are not digital monitors. They come
with a regular VGA plug. However, here in China, they
also will either come with, or the store may give you,
a VGA to DVI adapter plug. This is not recommended,
and I'm not going into the technical reasons at this point,
but suffice it to say that it makes no difference for this
monitor in Linux; and in Windoze the quality suffers by
using this adapter. When I discussed this with the local
Philips distributor store (where I buy all my parts), they
told me it should give you a performance increase while
playing DVDs -- which it doesn't, either.

What is your experience, or knowledge, about this?
(I would have emailed or PMed you but you haven't
authorized either of those. If you'd like to open up
personal dialog please email me.)

by cathectic on Sun, 2005-02-13 05:50
(3rd time lucky, I've managed to keep accidentally closing Firefox every time I've finished writing this)

1) As a quick aside, just playing with Fluxbox now, it doesn't want to play nice straight away with the .fonts.conf changes. To make it pay attention, I had to enable anti aliasing in Fluxbox: 'fluxbox menu --> Configure --> AntiAlias' and then it fixed the menu fonts (although not all of them were fixed until restarting it after that). I do apologise, I hadn't tested my solution with other WMs in Slackware (besides KDE which I use, and Gnome from before).

2) You're right, of course. What I mean is that if you have a DVI-D connector on your graphics card, and a DVI-D connector on your monitor, then you should use those to connect the monitor to your card (If they have both connectors, the theory from some is that more work will have been put into building the digital one than the analogue one. Who knows? But if you can, use the DVI-D connectors & cables if and only if *both* the card and monitor have them). If you only have an analogue VGA connector on your monitor, then obviously use the VGA cables and connections (with adaptors, I can't imagine how an adapter from VGA --> DVI-D would make an 'improvement'? As a rule of thumb, I try to avoid adapters where possible.)

by xunil-nubee on Thu, 2005-02-17 13:08
I just bought a Sony SDM-HS73 ----17inch monitor and hooked it up to Suse 8.2, looks great and everything works, but left side is 4 inches too far into virtual resolution. When I call things up they are always too far to the left and I can't see that side, so I have to move everything over first. It is like my computer thinks I bought a bigger monitor.

I have tried to adjust the virtual resolution, and the resolution and have checked just about everything.

Anyone out there feel like helping a Green Horn??


by cathectic on Thu, 2005-02-17 15:33
You would probably be better asking this question in Hardware, the Answers discussions are only frequented by those discussing an article. (I remember looking at this as a potential monitor, but for that money, it doesn't even come with a DVI-D connection! The newer SDM-HS74 corrects this fairly obvious flaw and comes with both analogue and digital inputs.)

Off the top of my head, you could try setting "DisplaySize" under your monitor settings in /etc/X11/xorg.conf or /etc/X11/XFree86 (not sure of the exac name of the config file in XFree86) depending on which X server your distro uses:

DisplaySize <height> <width>

Where height and width are the size of your monitor display in millimetres (not inches or any bizarre fraction of inches)

by Bobenz on Sat, 2005-02-19 03:44
HI, interesting article... .. the article itself does not word wrap for me like other pages from this site. I have a CRT screen. Is this linked to your changes to fonts too?


by cathectic on Tue, 2005-02-22 08:22
It doesn't wrap here either, maybe because of how I copied and pasted it from OOo, or the width of the text in the code tags is throwing it off? But I'm using a different configuration to the one I posted (the configuration I give here is the best for using the Bitstream fonts. I'm going to redo it at some point to make this clear.)

(If you're using the Microsoft fonts, you should lift the LCD specific only parts, and then follow the instructions given in other tutorials for installing the MS fonts and enabling the bytecode interpreter in FreeType.)

I wouldn't imagine that the changes in it are responsible for the incorrect word wrapping. All that the changes do is tell FreeType how to render the fonts, nothing to do with my poor text formatting.

Also, as you have a CRT, I don't reccommend using this configuration on it.

by Croaker on Sun, 2005-05-22 09:24
I just copied and pasted the script into a OO .text file, then opened and saved it as .fonts.conf using mc. I left the script as is and it's made a pretty big difference. There were a few websites (Notably where the fonts didn't look quite right. Now it looks much better. Thanks.

The hardware I'm using is a ViewSonic VP201s LCD monitor attached to a nVidia GeForce 6800 GT with the DVI-D cable. Screen resolution is 1280x1024

by TheKougar on Thu, 2005-09-15 22:53
I've gone through this and tried a few other things as well. I cannot get the 'font substitution' to work.

I still had to go to the KDE control pannel and the settigns for each app to change from Helvitica to Sans Serif.

Does KDE over-ride the fonts subsystem somehow?

by cathectic on Sun, 2005-09-25 06:44
The Kougar
Yes, KDE seems to ignore font type related settings in .fonts.conf, you have to set its fonts manually in Control Centre (this doesn't apply to the other parts of the tutorial though) - although I found that once it was set in Control Centre, I didn't need to set the individual applications.


Due to not being able to update the Answer page, I maintain a more up-to-date version of this tutorial at

It also contains the alternative way to get better fonts, which is to use the MS fonts plus rebuilding FreeType to include the bytecode interpreter.

by bobbens on Mon, 2006-04-24 13:13
Is it me or does it seem like the code part is missing? did it get eaten in the html/php? Don't remember what it's supposed to look like exactly but i see the xml in the code...


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