I'm using tightvncserver on a Debian 7.8 to access the machine from Windows. The Windows machine has a 4K resolution, so I've manually set the -geometry to be quite large. The first couple times I launched the server and connected, the font size looked quite normal, but then I started getting a really tiny (not quite unreadable but very aggravating) font size upon connecting.

Incidentally, I have commented out the xsession call in ~/.vnv/xstartup and instead am launching my window manager (i3) directly. At first I used i3 &, but although that worked initially I sometimes saw a grey-hatch-pattern and nothing else upon connecting, so I removed the &. (I don't quite understand why it would make any difference, since that's the end of the startup script, but...there you have it.)

(Note: I thought I'd seen a similar question on AskUbuntu, but now I can't seem to find it.)

1 Answer 1


Explicitly specifying -dpi 96 when launching tightvncserver seems to be a reasonable workaround.

However, this makes the fonts appear somewhat fuzzy on my screen.

  • Run xdpyinfo | grep resolution to find out what resolution your X server actually has, and use that instead of 96.
    – lcd047
    Jun 5, 2015 at 17:40
  • @lcd047 Doesn't that just return the resolution it's running with? What extra information does it provide? I don't think that actually implies anything about what the "correct" resolution should be. Jun 5, 2015 at 18:09
  • 1
    You're supposed to run xdpyinfo in a terminal, not in vnc. If your X server thinks it's running at, say, 115 DPI, and you're forcing vnc to run at 96 DPI, you'll have fuzzy fonts. This is especially visible on LCD screens.
    – lcd047
    Jun 5, 2015 at 18:17
  • @lcd047 It appears that xdpyinfo tries to use the DISPLAY variable unless you specify -display in the command. My local display, :0, is at 96 dpi, but I expect that's because that's the connected-monitor's native res. (It's not a great monitor.) The vnc server display is also at 96 dpi--is this not determined by the command used to start the server, though? Jun 5, 2015 at 18:33

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