My experience with using Fedora 26's standard font rendering (and fonts)
A bit over a month ago I wrote about my font rendering dilemma in Fedora 26, where my fontconfig user tweaks basically stopped working and I considered switching to the standard FreeType rendering rather than try to fix them. Leah Neukirchen solved one side of the dilemma for me on the spot in the comments, by telling me how to force FreeType to revert to my Fedora 25 rendering, but in the end I decided to stay with the standard system rendering as an experiment. At this point I consider the results of the experiment to be in, and I think the standard system rendering is the better, more readable one.
I rapidly got used to the new look of my
xterms and so on, as I
expected that I would. Some of our older systems are still using
older FreeType versions and on these, even a default font rendering
comes out basically the same as my old Fedora 25 one. On the
infrequent occasions that I use these systems, their
both look odd to me and also seem to be less easily readable than
xterms beside them with the darker, thicker font
rendering from modern FreeType versions. This is only anecdotal,
but looking at the old rendering periodically makes me happier to
have switched to FreeType's modern rendering. I feel that I made
the right choice.
The comments on my original article pointed me to this article on FreeType's new v40 interpreter; this interpreter change is the difference between Fedora 25's rendering and Fedora 26's. That article caused a cascade of yak shaving when I decided to switch to Fedora 26's standard rendering, because it got me to change my Firefox from using Georgia (at 16 points, I believe) to using the Fedora standard sans serif font at 15 points. This change in fonts and font sizes has wound up with me shuffling around the text zoom level on any number of sites, and not always in predictable directions. Some sites that I had increased the size on now don't need it any more; other sites now need it when they didn't need it before. The result is probably more readable, partly because I've been biased towards 'if in doubt, increase the text size'.
(A huge number of websites believe in tiny fonts for reasons that I don't understand. It's certainly not good typography, since the websites of typographers and many design people that I've seen tend to have fairly large type sizes, larger even than I'd pick.)
Although I haven't dug into it in depth, my impression is that this FreeType font rendering change has caused a number of other programs to change their text sizing and text rendering. I think Chrome now uses slightly different text sizes on web pages, for example; perhaps the FreeType v40 engine spaces things slightly differently. Or perhaps I'm just less willing to accept marginally small font sizes these days, so I'm being more picky.
(I may need to reset font preferences in other programs, such as Chrome, as I probably set any number of things to use Georgia a long time ago. For a while it was my default proportional spaced font, especially for web related things.)