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I am using the xmonad windows manager under Linux Mint 13 and is lacking a smooth font rendering.

Under MATE or Cinnamon, the fonts are smoothed, and choosing the session xmonad with Gnome, fonts are smoothed also. In addition, if I run gnome-settings-daemon while in xmonad, the fonts become smoothed also.

But is there a way to have nice looking fonts without resorting to Gnome?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Fontconfig is a library designed to provide system-wide font configuration, customization and application access. The intent is to make font configurations relatively static, and shared by as many applications as possible.

I have a file called .fonts.conf on my $HOME folder to provide the same font rendering for both Qt and GTK+ applications. Here is a copy of it, which should be a sane configuration for you to get started, but you may also have a look at man fonts-conf for details:

<?xml version='1.0'?><!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM 'fonts.dtd'>
  <match target="font">
    <edit mode="assign" name="antialias">
    <edit mode="assign" name="hinting">
    <edit mode="assign" name="hintstyle">
    <edit mode="assign" name="rgba">
    <edit mode="assign" name="lcdfilter">
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