Raivo Laanemets. Software consultant.

Chrome 59/60+ font rendering in Linux

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Chrome 59 on Linux renders fonts differently than the rest of the system. This happens when you use subpixel hinting on your system. Chrome 59+ seems to ignore your settings. It can be fixed by tweaking the FreeType configuration. FreeType is a font rendering system used by most Linux distributions.

The issue can be fixed by setting an environment variable before launching Chrome:

export FREETYPE_PROPERTIES="truetype:interpreter-version=35"
google-chrome

I'm using an Application Launcher in MATE desktop to start Chrome. To automatically set the environment variable, I created a wrapper script chrome-wrapper.sh in my home directory and edited the launcher settings to invoke the wrapper script instead of google-chrome directly. The full contents of the script:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
export FREETYPE_PROPERTIES="truetype:interpreter-version=35"
/opt/google/chrome/google-chrome &

With medium or full hinting this brings back skinny font rendering in the browser. Without the fix, the text looks similar to text on Windows 10.

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