The Absurdity of GNOME Font Sizes February 3, 2007Posted by Carthik in looks and feel, ubuntu.
The Fonts used and the way they are displayed on the screen play a vital role in how we users interact with, and how much we love the operating system.
Federico has a very intelligent critique of the Gnome Font (size) Management.
What is “Terminal font”? Is that the font they use on your tombstone when you die?
Jokes aside, the article throws some light on a long-standing question I have had:
What does the “Size” referred to in the GNOME Font Management menu actually refer to? What are the units used? (They are not pixels, and they are not points, or mms). He says the “Size” field virtually means nothing. It is not meaningful.
For long, one the first things I do after installing Ubuntu is to tweak the “DPI” setting to something lower than the default 96. There is no other way to have a shorter (thinner) GNOME taskbar on my desktop. I have to reduce the DPI to have sane font sizes everywhere. I guess I could have changed the font sizes, but reducing the DPI reduced all the font size in one fell swoop. I recall thinking that it was really weird I could change the DPI setting. A usability-oriented, user-friendly GUI such as GNOME, which prides itself on being more easily understood, and having less (confusing) options certainly could do without the “DPI” setting.
This also brings to mind what a friend said when he logged into a GNOME session for the first time after Ubuntu had been installed. He said, “There is something wrong – everything is so big,” and then he proceeded to check if the resolution was right – it was. I then had to help him tweak the DPI setting and the font size settings, and he kept asking me, “So why does the taskbar on the top and the bottom have to be so fat?.” Exactly what I thought when I first saw a GNOME desktop.
Usability considerations are not to be taken lightly – user interfaces must serve the largest-possible cross section of people. But for ordinary normal folks, used to the teeny-tiny, but well-rendered fonts in Windows or OSX, maybe we need to have an easy way to make the fonts and text appear reasonably sized.