I've recently had the chance to use a Macbook Pro with Retina Display, and its quite clear that the display is futuristic enough to actually warrant Apple's over-the-top marketing.

I've got sensitive eyes, and I don't like looking at very small text. Apple's virtual scaling for HiDPI resolutions scales the entire screen, not just text/UI buttons. This creates a higher level of detail on a canvas encompassing a smaller virtual resolution.

Most discussions that I've found say there's no similar solution when using Linux except to change gnome DPI settings.

After some cursory research, it seems that scaled resolutions are possible under X11 (see here). The --scale feature can be used for netbooks virtualizing a larger resolution, but could inverted values emulate a 1440x900 desktop on a 2880x1800 screen? If not, why?


Why don't you try yourself?

xrandr --output LVDS-1 --scale 0.5x0.5

seems to work acceptably - but remember that it is just scaling, for example any font rendering will be blurry rather than fine and crisp (no matter what algorithm is used for the scaling it acts on bitmaps) - for that the correct solution is setting DPI of the display device and font/icon sizes.

  • Thanks! I was trying to figure out why this wouldn't work, and I don't have a HiDPI device to test. The answer is, as you mention, that xrandr scaling works via bitmap. The blurriness I get on a lower DPI screen would remain. Guess we'll have to wait for a more complete solution. – Tammer Ibrahim Mar 25 '13 at 23:17
  • The solution is, as I mentioned, setting appropriate DPI and using large font size and artwork. AFAIK that's exactly what Apple does. – peterph Mar 25 '13 at 23:57

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