The Best Serif Font in the World: Linux Libertine

I did not find out about Linux Libertine until a couple months ago. Simply put, it’s the best serif font ever. For some reason, it still remains relatively unknown, even though Wikipedia uses it for its logo. Maybe it’s because the main developers don’t care to advertise it, or because powerhouse Linux distros have spread the word for other fonts like Nimbus Roman or Liberation Serif. Whatever the case, I think that it’s a shame that Linux Libertine remains in the shadows.

Reasons why you should use Linux Libertine:

  • It supports thousands of Unicode characters, which makes this font the best font to view all Western languages (including Cryllic).
  • It comes with an OpenType variant, “Linux Libertine O” (which is the one I use anywhere OpenType is supported)
  • It supports vritually all ligatures like “fi”, “ff”, “fl”, etc.
  • If you use Linux Libertine O in Firefox, Firefox will automatically put in ligatures for “fi,” “ff,” etc — but you will still be able to search through text as if they were their originals (i.e., ligature substitution is transparent to the user). This feature alone has made reading text zoomed at 150%-200% a pleasure — suddenly, larger text looks better.
  • It is open source (the fonts are generated from source code — which is GPL’d). This means that (1) this font will never die, and (2) this font will constantly improve over time.
  • It already looks asthetically far better than Times New Roman, yet it is not overly flamboyant like Garamond.
  • It has a good x-height, so it’s easy to read.
  • It has support for old-style figures (OSF). It even has variants for proportionally-spaced and non-proportionally spaced numerals (for both regular and OSF digits), making this an excellent choice for typesetting documents that deal heavily with numbers and tables.
  • It works beautifully well with XeTeX (fontspec)/LaTeX, and even comes with its own TeX package called “libertine”, making its symbols/glyphs easily programmable.
  • It comes with a TrueType (TTF) variant as well, so you can still use it in older programs.
  • It even has a glyph for Linux’s mascot, Tux (at codepoint U+E000)!

I can’t think of any cons. Its free, open-source nature makes it belong to the elite club of universally available, robust, free fonts (such as Latin Modern). Its robustness, versatility, and inclusion of numerous OpenType features make it easily the leading open-source serif font in the world.

UPDATE July 30, 2011: Grammar fixes; some sentences reworded.