I would like to make the visible workspace of my desktop fill up less space than the entire monitor while keeping image fidelity constant. Presumably, any solution would leave a black border around the new, smaller main window. I am pretty sure this involves making some tweaks to xorg.conf (like changing the DisplaySize and X and Y position of the root window or something), but nothing has worked for me. I am running Debian "Squeeze".

  • 3
    just curious, why do you wanna do this?
    – amphibient
    Oct 4 '12 at 15:54
  • I put a frame around my monitor which doesn't fit perfectly. Oct 4 '12 at 18:46
  • Maybe with the Virtual option in the DISPLAY subsection.
    – solarc
    Oct 22 '12 at 14:50
  • Another option is that some window managers allow you to set the desktop space to use and leave the space beyond unused. I remember fvwm having this option.
    – solarc
    Oct 22 '12 at 14:57
  • Some monitors have settings to let you adjust the size of the displayed region. Although, this may be old CRT's that I am thinking of.
    – jw013
    Oct 31 '12 at 16:00

Launch a second X server, using XNest, and position it within the real root window. This has several advantages over messing with xorg.conf files:

  • you can still put extra stuff in the black border (or not make it black, etc.) (might be cool remove the frame and see "joejoejoe wuz here" down the side)

  • you can position it exactly where you want just using mouse (XNest is an X server that looks like a client to the root X Server)

  • and uh, you don't have to futz with xorg.conf files


Look into the Xrandr man page xrandr. If I am reading into your question correctly, I have achieved this on a few occasions by messing different options (see below). It can be done per-session, without having to change xorg.conf

From the man page:

If invoked without any option, it will dump the state of the outputs, showing the existing modes for each of them, with a '+' after the pre- ferred mode and a '*' after the current mode.

After you list all outputs and available modes, and depending on what modes your Video Display supports, you can run the following for example. The man page lists other examples and features such as panning, rotating, hsync &c.

# xrandr --output VGA --newmode 800x600 
  • It would be more useful if you could provide a few more details pertaining to this specific question.
    – jw013
    Oct 31 '12 at 16:01
  • Hello. I apologize. Please see edit above. I am unfortunately at work and not near any terminals so had to take from the online manual page. Kind Regards.
    – jiltgeis
    Oct 31 '12 at 16:19
xrandr -s 800x600


xrandr -s 640x480

I have some old desktop-crt combinations from the late 1990's running NetBSD and I use that to size X nicely onto the screen. If you type


at the terminal prompt it will give you what your card and screen supports or if you type

xrandr --help

you will get a list of options to use with xrandr

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