HiDPI on Gnome desktop

samedi 14 juillet 2018 • GF

High resolution (HiDPI) screens are common in 2018 but unlike OS X and Windows, Linux Gnome destop lacks support for interface (GUI) and text fractional scaling. With the Gnome default of 200% scaling, interface elements are too big. Without it, elements are too small. What we need is fractional scaling : 125%, 150% or 175%. Here’s how to enable fractional scaling on Gnome 3, with Xorg and Wayland, on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver or other modern distros.

With XOrg (Ubuntu 18.04 default)

The historical X server doesn’t support fractional scaling. However, there’s a tweak described in the ArchLinux wiki.

Get the right ratio

First, open a Terminal window and test your configuration. Use the xrandr command.

[email protected]:~$ xrandr
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 3200 x 1800, maximum 8192 x 8192
eDP-1 connected primary (…)

eDP-1 is the name of my screen, yours may have a different name. To test a new configuration, use xrandr with the scale argument :

xrandr --output eDP-1 --scale 1.25x1.25

Increasing the scale make the interface elements smaller : 1.75x1.75 is smaller than 1.25x1.25. Feel free to try a few different settings.

(Optional) The mouse is stuck ! I can’t reach the right part of the screen !

This is a common issue with the xrandr tweak. Run xrandr command again to get your current resolution (3200x1800 in the example above).

Then, run xrandr one more time with panning option.

xrandr --output eDP-1 --scale 1.25x1.25  --panning 3200x1800

Make it permanent

First, create a new file ~/.config/autostart/hidpi.sh :

#!/usr/bin/env bash
xrandr --output eDP-1 --scale 1.25x1.25  --panning 3200x1800

Then, make the file executable. In a Terminal, type :

chmod +x ~/.config/autostart/hidpi.sh

Finally, create a second file, ~/.config/autostart/hidpi.desktop :

[Desktop Entry]
Name=HiDPI-Configuration
GenericName=HiDPI-Configuration
Comment=Configure HiDPI Fractional Scaling
Exec=~/.config/autostart/hidpi.sh
Terminal=false
Type=Application
X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled=true

Save both files, log out and log back in.

With Wayland

Wayland is a new server that can be used instead or XOrg. Wayland supports fractional scaling but the feature is still experimental and disabled by default. To enable it, open a Terminal and run :

gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['scale-monitor-framebuffer']"

Then, open the system settings under devices and displays, and choose the scale you want. You may have to reboot your computer before being able to pick a franctional scale.