Seems I despaired too soon about not being able to get good-looking fonts in Emacs. Thanks to Duncan Mak I've been able to compile and install an Emacs with anti-aliased fonts on Ubuntu. Here's the recipe:
emacs-snapshot-debiandirectory from this arch repository and use it as the
debiandirectory inside the Emacs source tree
Then I had to edit out the build instructions for the
of Emacs, as it didn't build properly, and to be sure, added
this to the
Emacs-gtk confflags section of
emacs_gtk_confflags += --with-xft=yes
fakeroot dpkg-buildpackage -b in the source directory,
and some time later, Emacs packages with anti-aliased fonts.
There are some limitations: you need to set the font in your
~/.Xresources file like this:
You may also want to fiddle with the
X properties to get the fonts to match your desktop environment.
OK, so it's a bit of effort, but worth it. Hopefully this patch will mature and make its way into future Linux distributions.