Current state of DPI settings under X

Thiago Macieira thiago at
Wed Aug 30 00:40:40 UTC 2017

On Monday, 28 August 2017 17:21:40 PDT Thomas U. Grüttmüller wrote:
> On 25.07.2017 20:15, Vladimir Kudrya wrote:
> > I would like to know the current 'proper' way of setting DPI in X
> startx -- -dpi 120
> Be aware though, that many programs expect a screen with 96 dpi, so
> setting the value to anything other than 96 might break their design.
> Some fonts might look ugly, too.

From experience, most modern applications and not-too-ancient applications 
react just fine to the change in DPI. All modern toolkits provide ways to avoid 
hardcoding pixel positions and most applications on X have dealt with varying 
DPI or font sizes at some point or another.

I'm currently running at 216 DPI and I don't have any application misbehaving, 
not even the ones that don't support scaling up icons, margins, etc.

> Personally, I also don’t see a point. I have a 120 dpi screen, but I
> prefer to stick with a 96 dpi setting because it looks better and I
> don’t waste screen space. If I write programs, I define all sizes in
> pixels to avoid all that crap in the first place.

I do. If I run at 96 DPI, I can't read anything. I'd have to at least double 
the font sizes, which for well-behaving applications is an equivalent change 
to doubling the font DPI.

But unlike the change in DPI, not all applications will use 18pt, 20pt or 
bigger fonts. There are modern applications that hardcode font sizes in 

Thiago Macieira - thiago (AT) - thiago (AT)
   Software Architect - Intel Open Source Technology Center

More information about the xdg mailing list