September 24, 2002
Fonts Matter

I have wondered for months why lemonodor seemed to look vaguely lame in Mozilla.

Today I noticed that by default, Mozilla is configured to not allow pages to choose their own fonts; they are limited to the six selected in the Mozilla preferences. After enabling the option, this site looks significantly better. As do many others.

I think I'm being very generous when I say that is a questionable default.

(If you really want to get depressed about Mozilla's usability, read mpt for a while.)

Oops, it turns out I'm wrong about Mozilla making it a default. Which if I had bothered to spend 3 minutes booting VirtualPC or something to confirm it on another installation, I might have known.

Wouldn't it have been great if that was the default though? Some giant software development team makes a big boneheaded mistake, or some random person writes a web page that contains inaccurate information. One can be tragedy and comedy, the other is just the everyday experience of 21st century life.

Posted by jjwiseman at September 24, 2002 12:01 AM

I'm sorry, but I think you must be on crack. This hasn't been the default setting in any version of Mozilla I've tried. OTOH, the site might look different from what you expect because only Windows-users have Verdana and Arial.

Posted by: Johannes Grødem on September 24, 2002 02:23 AM

Verdana and Arial are everywhere. They were distributed on the Microsoft web site for years, and are still available, thanks to a liberal EULA, at

Posted by: Juri Pakaste on September 24, 2002 02:41 AM

I am curious: what configuration option do you speak of? And on what platform? Is this a compile-time option or something set in View>Preferences?

On Linux with anti-aliasing enabled I don't think it looks lame...

Posted by: Charlie Mac on September 24, 2002 06:25 AM

The setting is in Preferences, Appearance -> Fonts.

I really could be totally wrong, er I mean on crank. No, crack! I'm on crack! Anyway, I checked my three other mozilla installations and none have them were configured to restrict fonts, so maybe *I* was the one that somehow set that preference.

Though none of the other installations were on a Mac, so I guess it could be Mac only.

Let's just agree that whoever set that option is REALLY DUMB, ok? Now where'd I put my blow...

Posted by: jjwiseman on September 24, 2002 08:54 AM

i am the crack. wiseacre over there let me try out his computer so i could see if i liked osx, and i may have checked that little box to see if it affected that blasted font smoothing at all. i just said blasted? i am the double crack.


Posted by: the crack on September 24, 2002 09:18 AM

You worried me for a second, John. I had to check my Mozilla preferences to make sure that I was seeing the world the way it was intended to be seen. I am, both at home (on OS X) and at work (on W2K).

I'll admit it -- those who say Mozilla is slower than IE are right. But Mozilla, with its tabs and pop-up blocking and good CSS implementation, is my browser of choice.

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on September 24, 2002 09:31 AM

Aha. I *knew* I didn't change it.

Locking screensavers aren't for stopping hackers and snoops. They're for preventing people from messing with your preferences.

Posted by: jjwiseman on September 24, 2002 10:08 AM

If you guys like Mozilla on OSX, you might want to check out Chimera ( - it has a native Cocoa UI and impelements tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking.

Posted by: Ram Krishnan on September 25, 2002 05:23 PM
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