I run Awesome on Ubuntu 19.04 with XScreenSaver. This post is a brief writeup of what I did to fix the ugly default fonts.

Let’s start with the ~/.Xdefaults file:

! xft
Xft.antialias: true
Xft.dpi: 96
Xft.hinting: true
Xft.hintstyle: hintfull
Xft.lcdfilter: lcddefault
Xft.rgba: rgb

! XScreenSaver font settings
xscreensaver.Dialog.headingFont:        -*-verdana-bold-r-*-*-28-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xscreensaver.Dialog.bodyFont:           -*-verdana-medium-r-*-*-20-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xscreensaver.Dialog.labelFont:          -*-verdana-medium-r-*-*-20-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xscreensaver.Dialog.unameFont:          -*-verdana-medium-r-*-*-26-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xscreensaver.Dialog.buttonFont:         -*-verdana-bold-r-*-*-20-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xscreensaver.Dialog.dateFont:           -*-terminus-medium-r-*-*-16-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
xscreensaver.passwd.passwdFont:         -*-verdana-bold-r-*-*-20-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

If you don’t have Verdana installed:

sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

To make TrueType fonts visible to old X applications one has to jump through a few hoops.

cd /usr/share/fonts/truetype/msttcorefonts
sudo mkfontscale
sudo mkfontdir
xset +fp /usr/share/fonts/truetype/msttcorefonts/
xset fp rehash
xrdb -merge ~/.Xdefaults
xscreensaver-command -restart

Test it with xfontsel

You may also want to enable a few X server settings:

cd /etc/fonts/conf.d
sudo ln -s ../conf.avail/10-autohint.conf .
sudo ln -s ../conf.avail/10-sub-pixel-rgb.conf .