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Arabic Ubuntu FontThe First Impression

Finally, Arabic Ubuntu Font is out!

It’s beta now. I think the final version of this package is supposed to be a published as a part of the original Ubuntu font; the package called ttf-ubuntu-font-family or fonts-ubuntu-font-family, which is —in my opinion— the most ever valuable gift have been produced by Canonical —the producer company of Ubuntu Linux distribution— presented to Linux user.

Ubuntu font is a unique font in Linux environment, since it’s meant to be the typical sans-serif font for screens.

Ubuntu Font Family, sans-serif typeface hinted for clarity.

This means It’s not supposed to be used for printing purposes, although it’s not bad for printing too.

The most important factor determines whether a font is designed for screens or not, is how it looks when disabling font-smoothing feature.

The following screenshot shows how Ubuntu font looks like before and after disabling font-smoothing feature, and thus proves why it’s perfect for screen.

Two instances of a text editor with the sentence “This is a test text.” a sample text
Ubuntu font before and after disabling smoothing-feature using libfine-typography package

I usually use libfine-typography package for this purpose. You can download and install it directly from RichStyle Download page, but it’s recommended to install it as a part of the whole RichStyle project. Here’s how to install RichStyle repository.

But since the current beta version of the Arabic Ubuntu font is published under a different font name: «Ubuntu Arab 0.81 met»; libfine-typography package will not affect this font.

So, the first thing I decided to do after installing this font is disabling that feature manually, and see how it will look like.

«Font Rendering Details» dialog in MATE desktop
Disabling font-smoothing feature under LinuxMint (MATE desktop)

Here’s the result:

“Latin Script” and “الخط العربي” phrases written in «Ubuntu Arab 0.81 met» font in different sizes
Arabic and Latin scripts using «Ubuntu Arab 0.81 met» font

It’s sharp! but is it clear?

Let’s take a closer look to this demo Arabic and English texts displayed using «Ubuntu Arab 0.81 met» font.

Two demo texts: Arabic and English, displayed using «Ubuntu Arab 0.81 met» font in two different windows
Comparison: Demo Arabic and English texts displayed using «Ubuntu Arab 0.81 met» font

As you can see, Arabic characters look sharp like the Latin ones, but not clear and readable like them. Arabic characters look condensed comparing to the Latin ones. Things get worse when you start using Arabic diacritics (التشكيل).

Thanks to Professor Rayan Abdullah, the designer of the Arabic character set of Ubuntu font, publishing this font is definitely a quantum leap for Arabic Linux users, toward a typical Arabic screen font under Linux.