Perhaps this belongs on superuser, but I'll try here on stackoverflow first

I develop on Ubuntu and was wondering if it's safe to assume that my site will look the same in, say, Chrome, when viewed on a Mac or Windows system, as it does when viewed on a Linux machine in the same browser.

I'm not talking about cross-browser problems here, but rather cross-operating-system browser issues

I guess that all Linux users know to be sure to include some Linux safe fonts in their font-stack cos we don't all have Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Tahoma and the lovely Trebuchet MS installed by default, but is there anything else?

I understand (and fully expect) that our favourite browser (IE), doesn't work the same under Wine as it does in Windows but I'd hope that other browsers do

  • 1
    can someone migrate this to pro webmasters please as I think it belongs there
    – marflar
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 4:27
  • Hmm. Obsess much?
    – Stephen
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 4:45

3 Answers 3


I have experienced subtle differences (not just font related) between Firefox on Windows and Firefox on Mac as well as differences on Safari between Windows and Mac as well.

I once had a two column layout look fine on win FF but on mac FF the second column appeared below the first. I had to decrease the width or margin/padding on it to make it align properly.

Differences between them are typically rare, however I highly recommend testing on as many platforms as you have access to.

  • Yep. Input elements tend to differ in size/shape/appearance greatly between even mac and windows versions of the same browser. Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 17:37

I've recently run up against a similar problem to RDL. A side column in one of my layouts is set to float right, and has enough space to sit along side the main column, but on Safari it gets pushed below.

I've tried adding extra space for the column, but it doesn't have any effect. What I eventually determined was that a jQuery plugin I was using to create a slideshow inside that column was causing the issue, although it works just fine in IE, Opera, and Firefox on Windows.

I've as yet been unable to identify the exact bug that is causing this since I don't own a Mac, so I don't really know the name of the bug or what precisely is causing it. But I'm gonna see if it can be replicated in Chrome or Safari for Windows.


If you mean about only HTML and CSS issues, the major difference is the layout engine render process.

Windows have one way to process the graphics, different than UNIX/Linux, which by its turn is different from Mac OS X. Graphic drivers and windowing system has a role into this process, but the key point is the fonts parser/server.

Even within Linux, font rendering by OS is different for Firefox, Opera and Chrome, what causes them to display differently fonts and boxes (if boxes measures are in em, ex, or another font-dependent unit).

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