Removal of revert_scalable_fonts_metric.patch causes ugliness in Claws-Mail

Bug #1547196 reported by Barry Warsaw on 2016-02-18
This bug affects 6 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
freetype (Debian)
Fix Released
freetype (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

This is mostly a tracking bug for this discussion on ubuntu-devel:

The following precise-era patch was recently removed from freetype:

which caused a number of visual effects in various applications. In Emacs, the lines get vertically closer so that more lines are visible on screen. This is subtle and doesn't look too bad otherwise.

However, in Claws-Mail several negative effects were noticed. The lines in the Summary window are more squished together and the characters appear squished too. This is with Sans 10 font. This is less readable.

In the Message window it's worse. There I use Ubuntu Mono 14. The problem isn't the vertical spacing, but the horizontal spacing. Now there is more space between characters and that actually makes the window less readable.

I will contact the upstream Claws mailing list to see if they have any thoughts.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 16.04
Package: libfreetype6 2.6.1-0.1ubuntu1
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 4.4.0-6.21-generic 4.4.1
Uname: Linux 4.4.0-6-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: nvidia_uvm nvidia
ApportVersion: 2.20-0ubuntu3
Architecture: amd64
CurrentDesktop: Unity
Date: Thu Feb 18 14:34:57 2016
 gcc-6-base 6-20160217-0ubuntu1
 libc6 2.21-0ubuntu6
 libgcc1 1:6-20160217-0ubuntu1
 libpng12-0 1.2.54-1ubuntu1
 zlib1g 1:1.2.8.dfsg-2ubuntu4
EcryptfsInUse: Yes
InstallationDate: Installed on 2016-01-22 (27 days ago)
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" - Alpha amd64 (20160117)
SourcePackage: freetype
UpgradeStatus: No upgrade log present (probably fresh install)

Barry Warsaw (barry) wrote :
Changed in freetype (Debian):
status: Unknown → New
Timo Aaltonen (tjaalton) wrote :

for me this change makes the terminal experience much worse, can't fit as wide terminals on the screen as before

so is this a font bug now?

Timo Aaltonen (tjaalton) wrote :

So looks like on my laptop the terminal looks fine, but on my desktop (2560x1400) the monospace font size 8 & 9 are equally wide, and 8 is what I use so the end result is ugly. 7 is way too small. Laptop (3200x1800) uses size 9, and changing to size 8 the width changes too.

Barry Warsaw (barry) wrote :

FWIW, and unsurprisingly, the claws-mail mailing list doesn't think there's a bug in that application. I've had to change fonts to Droid Sans 11 for folders and message lists, and Ubuntu Mono 13 for the message window. It's not what I want, but it's tolerable.

I have noticed other geometry changes with gnome terminal and Emacs, and have had to adjust some settings, but so far I haven't had to actually change the font of either of them. I understand the rationale for backing this patch out, but it does seem to have some negative side-effects for me. My understanding is that the patch caused problems for other people though. I suspect we'll have to wait (perhaps in vain) for a font expert to dig into the issue.

Timo Aaltonen (tjaalton) wrote :

re-adding the patch gave me the terminal font I want, maximized terminator with four columns 101x107 each (broken one had 87x107..).. I'll use this until something provided by the distro works for me.

Timo Aaltonen (tjaalton) wrote :

another visual regression is thicker underlines in thunderbird showing threads with unread messages, patched version is good

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in freetype (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Andrej Shadura ( wrote :

This broke the rendering of Input font for me.

Changed in freetype (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Medium
Andrej Shadura ( wrote :

Right, so the release went ahead without dealing with this issue.

Barry Warsaw (barry) wrote :

Yes, it's unfortunate. I've had to config away from Ubuntu Mono font in Claws because it was just unreadable. I've managed to keep it in gnome-terminal and Emacs though.

Fibbles (fibbles) wrote :

This bug is also affecting Code::Blocks. The default monospace font (DejaVu Sans Mono, 10pt) is now rendered with slightly less height which makes all of the code look like it has been squished vertically. It's particularly obvious with the = signs which are now so squished it's difficult to make out the separate lines.

ubuntu user (aaadas) wrote :

Same in Eclipse.

Yanpas (yanpaso) wrote :

One more detail: setting font size to 10.5 makes udnerscore symbol invisible.
Should I open new ticket?

Andrej Shadura ( wrote :

This has been fixed upstream:

The fix is included in freetype 2.8+.

Fixed in Artful and Bionic.

Changed in freetype (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Fix Released
Changed in freetype (Debian):
status: New → Fix Released
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