The default fonts packaged with Linux are definitely passable; however, Microsoft has some freely available TrueType fonts that make Linux look even better. These fonts technically aren't redistributable, which is why most Linux vendors do not provide them out of the box. But, these fonts are available for personal use; you just need to download and install them. On RPM-based systems, a clever RPM package exists that, when installed, will generate a new RPM that includes these TrueType fonts -- a quick and efficient way to package the fonts without manually downloading and installing them.
This RPM package was designed for an older Mandrake Linux distribution, but it works just as well on recent Mandriva Linux installs and most likely works with other RPM-based Linux distributions as well.
Download the following RPM package: ftp://ftp.pbone.net/mirror/seerofsouls.com/mandriva/official/2007.0/i586/main/msttcorefonts-bootstrap-0.1-4brs.noarch.rpm
Once you have it, install it. If you're using Mandriva Linux, use urpmi to install it. Because this RPM package actually creates another, a number of dependencies must be installed to create the RPM package:
# urpmi msttcorefonts-bootstrap-0.1-4brs.noarch.rpm
To satisfy dependencies, the following packages are going to be installed:
Proceed with the installation of the 15 packages? (80 MB) (Y/n)
On other Linux distributions, use the tool that comes with it (e.g., apt or yum). When the package is installed, it will immediately make a network connection to SourceForge to download the font files and bundle them into a new RPM package called msttcorefonts, and then install that newly-generated RPM package.
Once the RPM is installed, the fonts are immediately available. For instance, in GNOME, select System | Preferences | Font to set the default application fonts, perhaps changing the default Sans font to Verdana.
In KDE, open the KDE Control Center, select Appearance & Themes, and then Fonts. Here you could also change the default Sans font to Verdana (or any other font the package supplies, including Arial, Comic, Courier, Georgia, etc.).
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Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.