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I expect xrandr --dpi 180 to change the dpi from 90 to 180 on the fly per-session and thus downscale resolution, but nothing happens. Am I missing something? I was able to change the dpi with the silly hack of adding fonts.fontconfig.dpi=180 to /etc/nixos/configuration.nix then nixos-rebuild test, which is less than ideal.

To be very clear, here's my situation: 1. the default resolution is too low for my laptop screen and everything (fonts) looks painfully small. 2. I learned adding fonts.fontconfig.dpi=180 to /etc/nixos/configuration.nix on nixos can set the dpi to 180 from the default 96 so that everything has normal size (fonts). 3. However, I now sometimes open the vm on a monitor which has lower resolution than my laptop, and I'd like to change the dpi on the fly when switching between using the laptop screen and the monitor.

  • How is your monitor connected? With DisplayPort you can not change resolution, and can not change DPI on the fly. – Barafu Albino Oct 2 '16 at 19:39
  • Rather than reposting your question from SO, you should have asked a moderator to migrate it ;) – Zimm i48 Oct 2 '16 at 20:01
  • @BarafuAlbino It's shown as VGA-0 in virtualbox and the physical connection is mini display port dongled to HDMI. I was able to do xrandr --output VGA-0 --scale 2x2 to scale down everything, but that has the strange bug of partially freezing X11... – rem Oct 2 '16 at 22:27
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Setting custom DPI in xfce4-appearance-settings always seemed to work fine for me. I've never tried another way.

  • Any idea how xfce handles it? I'm using xmonad – rem Dec 4 '16 at 3:08
  • Incidentally, I use xmonad in an xfce session. IIRC for some X changes to apply "as one expects", one needs a daemon - in Xfce this is filled by xfsettingsd. – Vladimír Čunát Dec 5 '16 at 8:18

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