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.

Clean Japanese and Korean Characters in URXVT

I have files and directories using Japanese and Korean. Unfortunately, urxvt by default does not display these characters nicely (the hangul looks especially ugly) by default. The way to fix this is to have a good set of TrueType fonts for both Japanese and Korean, and to have URXVT use these as defaults.

If you’re on Arch Linux like me, you can install from the AUR the ttf-kochi-substitute and ttf-baekmuk fonts for Japanese and Korean fonts, respectively. (There is also ttf-sazanami and ttf-unfonts-core for more Japanese and Korean fonts, respectively — but here I’m going to use Kochi Gothic and Baekmuk Gulim in URXVT). Now, in your ~/.Xdefaults file, put this in:

urxvt*font: xft:Terminus:pixelsize=14,\
            xft:Kochi Gothic:antialias=false,\
            xft:Baekmuk Gulim

This makes it so that Terminus is used, then Kochi Gothic, then Baekmuk Gulim. It’s good to have Kochi Gothic on a higher priority than Baekmuk Gulim, since Kochi Gothic’s kanji glyphs look much better than Baekmuk’s (and since Japanese words often have kanji in them, whereas Korean files almost always have just hangul in them). Also, the pixelsize defined with Terminus is used for all succeeding fonts below. Now my URXVT looks really nice!