Re: [mu TECH] testing TEX.tgz addon

From: Alfie Costa (
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 20:50:49 CEST

On 27 Mar 00, at 14:33, Michele Andreoli <> wrote:

> About fonts, again: try to change the "Screen Fonts", using a Lyx
> pull-down menu. Select times-roman and also smaller fonts. Results
> are better. But do not expect to much, anyway: fonts in not a point
> of force, in X/UNIX.

On my screen times-roman looked even worse than helvetica, large or small. I
still admire TeX and its descendants though, as the mathematical idea of it is
what's interesting. It's just that two-color low-res rasterization is innately
prone to roughness.
Here's a quote about TeX and jaggies from Robert Cringely's irreverent
'Accidental Empires', (1992 Addison-Wesley), p. 29, (Note: one computer
enthusiast I've met despises this book because of its informality, but I am
hoping nobody here will be so offended) ...

Knuth's idea was that through the use of computers, photo offset, and
especially the printing of numbers and mathematical formulas, could be made as
beautiful as hot type. This was like Perseus giving fire to humans, and as
ambitious, though well within the capability of Knuth's largest of all brains.

He invented a text formatting language called TeX which could drive a laser
printer to place type images on the page as well as or better than the old
linotype, and he invented another language, Metafont, for designing whole
families of fonts. Draw a letter "A," and Metafont could generate a matching
set of the other twenty-five letters of the alphabet.

When he was finished, Don Knuth saw that what he had done was good, and said as
much in volume 3 of _The Art of Computer Programming_, which was typeset using
the new technology. It was a major advance, and in the introduction he proudly
claimed that the printing once again looked just as good as the hot type of
volume 1.

Except it didn't.

Reading his introduction to volume 3, I had the feeling that Knuth was wearing
the emperor's new clothes. Squinting closely at the type in volume 3, I saw
the letters had that telltale look of a low-resolution laser printer -- not the
beautiful, smooth curves of real type or even of a photo typesetter. There
were "jaggies" -- little bumps that make all the difference between good type
and bad. Yet here was Knuth, writing the same letters that I was reading, and
claiming they were beautiful.

"Donnie," I wanted to say. "What are you talking about? Can't you see the

But he couldn't. Donald Knuth's gray matter, far more powerful than mine, was
making him look beyond the actual letters and words to the mathematical
concepts that underlay them. Had a good enough laser printer been available,
the printing would have been beautiful, so that's what Knuth saw and I didn't.
This effect of mind over what matters is both a strength and a weakness for
those, like Knuth, who would break radical new ground with computers...


I wonder about what sort of many-colored rasterization algorithms may exist,
but haven't studied this. Anyway, LyX is a good addon to mu because it has
that math-appeal.

> Transport a generate .ps file in a full Linux installation and
> print it: the result will be satisfactory, I think.

Haven't set up my printer with a full Linux yet, but will eventually and then
give this a try.

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