For one reason or another, Mozilla Firefox may not render fonts as intended on all Linux systems. Fortunately, Firefox gives us a lot of control over the font configuration, so we can fine tune these settings until it looks better.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to access Firefox’s font settings to improve rendering. We’ll also go over some more advanced options in case the usual ones don’t work for you.
In this tutorial you will learn:
- How to configure Firefox font settings
- Advanced font settings in about:config
- Operating system level font tweaks
|Category||Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used|
|System||Any Linux distro|
|Other||Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the
# – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user
Firefox Font Settings
You can access Firefox’s font settings by first clicking the menu icon (three stacked lines in the upper right corner), and selecting Preferences.
Make sure you’re on the General tab, then scroll down just a bit to the “Language and Appearance” section. You can now change the default font and font size for Firefox. You can also choose to increase the zoom on the text or select some different default colors.
For more granular control, click on “Advanced” to pick a different default font for each type – like proportional, serif, sans-serif, and monospace.
To make sure that all websites adhere to the changes you’ve made, you can also uncheck the “Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of your selections above” option.
Advanced Font Settings
If editing the settings mentioned above didn’t improve the font rendering on your system, there are even more options available in Firefox’s about:config area. You can use these settings if you’re having particular trouble with antialiasing, for example.
about:config into the address bar. If warned that you are about to edit advanced configuration preferences, click to proceed.
To see all font related settings, you can type “font” into the search bar.
This can return an overwhelming number of results, so it’s better to narrow our search. Typing “font_r” in the search bar will let you see all the settings that pertain to font rendering, including a setting for antialiasing called
gfx.font_rendering.ahem_antialias_none. To toggle this setting, you can click the icon to the right of it.
Of course, feel free to tweak other settings in this menu as needed. Just remember to restore their defaults if they produce any undesired results.
Operating System Level Font Tweaks
It’s also possible to edit the font rendering in the operating system itself. This can vary widely, depending on which Linux distro you’re using and which desktop environment. As an example, GNOME Tweaks contains a lot of font rendering options, but this is only applicable on the GNOME desktop environment.
As you can see, default fonts and other settings like antialiasing and hinting can all be configured here. On other distros, like Debian, a
.fonts.conf XML file can be created in the user’s home directory to control certain aspects of font smoothing. Here’s an example that was taken from Debian’s website:
<?xml version='1.0'?> <!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM 'fonts.dtd'> <match target="font"> <edit mode="assign" name="rgba"> <const>rgb</const> </edit> </match> <match target="font"> <edit mode="assign" name="hinting"> <bool>true</bool> </edit> </match> <match target="font"> <edit mode="assign" name="hintstyle"> <const>hintslight</const> </edit> </match> <match target="font"> <edit mode="assign" name="antialias"> <bool>true</bool> </edit> </match> <match target="font"> <edit mode="assign" name="lcdfilter"> <const>lcddefault</const> </edit> </match> </fontconfig>
There is no “one size fits all” solution for every distro and desktop environment, so further research may be required for your particular system.
In this guide, we saw several methods for improving the font rendering of Mozilla Firefox on a Linux system. Firefox gives us a lot of control over how fonts are displayed, so editing the settings from the Preferences menu should clear up almost any issue. If not, there are still advanced settings that can be tinkered with, as well as more font smoothing options down at the operating system level.