Font-family and compatibility between Linux, Windows, MacOS X


It's quite hard to choose a font-family that will work similarly and nicely on all OS.
Some useful links on the subject:


The table below tells what font you get on various OS for a given font-family:

font-family Mandriva Linux
2009.1 - 2010.1
Ubuntu 8.04 Ubuntu 8.04
with msttcorefonts
MacOS X Windows
font-family: sans-serif DejaVu Sans [#1] DejaVu Sans
DejaVu Sans
Helvetica Arial
font-family: Verdana N/A N/A Verdana
Verdana Verdana
font-family: Arial Liberation Sans
N/A Arial
Arial Arial
font-family: Helvetica Liberation Sans
Nimbus Sans L
Nimbus Sans L
Helvetica Arial (?)
font-family: Helvetica Neue N/A N/A N/A Helvetica Neue N/A
font-family: Geneva N/A N/A N/A Geneva N/A
font-family: DejaVu Sans DejaVu Sans DejaVu Sans DejaVu Sans N/A N/A
font-family: Bitstream Vera Sans Bitstream Vera Sans Bitstream Vera Sans Bitstream Vera Sans N/A N/A
(A monospace font has been added to the font-family to show the fonts not available)



If you want your web site to look very similar to Arial on the various OS, use:
font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif


Ubuntu and Mandriva have a specific fontconfig configuration (cf 1 and 2) (It seems Ubuntu's configuration comes from Debian, but Debian doesn't have it anymore).

Fontconfig's default configuration is to prefer Bitstream Vera since commit "Prefer Bitstream Vera to DejaVu families" in 2006.

The package "msttcorefonts" installs Microsoft "Core fonts for the Web".
"Liberation Sans" is very similar to Arial.
Mandriva specific fontconfig configuration.
This is fontconfig default configuration.

Hint: to know which font is used under Linux, use fc-match (eg: "fc-match Verdana").