it seems that Xft and freetype need patching for some people, maybe having to do with using an LCD. i found the patches on David Chester's page:
i haven't got it perfect yet, but you can perhaps start to see the difference here:
on the left is before the patching, on the right, after. keep in mind that even though it might not seem like a major change, on an LCD it makes all the difference. :shock:
after i applied the first patch, the other one complained about it already being patched, so i left that out for now (edit: d'oh, i just noticed the two patches are for different freetype versions - so much for scanning. the version i applied was the cvs version, and apparently that still mainly works for up to 2.1.9). i also made some other hacks to Xfree before recompiling, but i lost the webpage URL and will have to locate that again.
this is with freetype 2.1.9 and XFree86 4.4, btw. at first X wouldn't compile, but during one iteration i forgot to remove xorg and compiled XFree right over it. that time it worked!
i'm also having some "side-effects," like the italic text in web pages is bolded (try to read slashdot, ugh ), and the characters with alt underlines (F in File, etc.) in some apps like gnome are weird courier-like fonts. other than that, it's a big improvement.
next i am going to test the whole process again on my test partition. maybe it's not even freetype that's doing it, but the recompile of X with those hacks, or both. hopefully i can get it tweaked 100 percent and get rid of the anomalies. i'm wondering, though, can these tweaks eventually be applied to the arch version of freetype2/X for those of us with LCDs? or maybe set up parallel versions in a test repository or something? it really would make life a lot easier! the X hack was only a matter of adding two or three lines to a subdirectory file -- i'll try to find that again and post it. but i'm just afraid of what's going to happen when things start upgrading and we're left with the crappy fonts again.