HiDPI means Hugh Dots Per Inch, HiDPI is a display technology in which screens supports high resolution but relatively in small format. The apple has also marketed the same HiDPI display technology with its own given name called Apple’s Retina Display. The HiDPI display technology mostly found in high-end laptops and monitors. This means to optimize the modern Linux Desktop environment you have to tweak their User interface to enhance the looks and clarity of OS interface on bigger and denser HiDPI displays.
Most popular operating systems MacOS and Windows have already optimized their operating system to work pretty much good on HiDPI displays out of the box without any custom settings. But what about the open source Linux desktop environment systems which are available for free to use and pretty much popular nowadays.
There are well known Linux desktops for HiDPI supported Laptops and Desktops displays. Here is the list of best Linux desktop environments with high DPI support for retina displays. Also, the Linux Desktop environments we are going to mention in this article are one of the best open source Linux Desktop environment projects available to use in laptops and desktop.
Linux Desktop Environment HiDPI displays
GNOME Shell Linux Desktop Environment
Right now the latest version of the Gnome Linux desktop environment is Gnome 3. The Gnome project developers already supported the HiDP displays to those Linux running on the Gnome shell desktop environment.
By default, like most of the Linux desktop environments, the HiDPI mode is turned off and you need to turn it on manually. To turn on the GNOME HiDPI support for large resolutions displays just use the GNOME Tweak Tool. Open GNOME Tweak tool that comes pre-installed in the GNOME shell. At the Gnome tweak tool click on the ‘Windows” tool section and change some default values. Change the display value from 1 to 2 that means 200% increase or 3 that give 300% scaling.
Website Link to Download: https://www.gnome.org/gnome-3/
Pantheon Linux Desktop Environment
Pantheon is the one of the most beautiful Linux desktop environment we have ever seen. It is default Linux desktop environment created for elementary OS, a Linux distribution. It was created from scratch using Vala and the GTK3 toolkit.
The Pantheon provides good usability and appearance with some similar look and feels like MacOS and GNOME Shell. The best part of this desktop environment is it gives support to HiDPI displays out of the box means no need to mess around settings and changing values. Just install and you are going to get the HiDPI support by default. No scaling or No stretching.
Website Link to Download: https://elementary.io/
Cinnamon Linux Desktop Environment
The Cinnamon is wonderful Linux desktop environment that supports HiDPI displays, since its version 2.2. Cinnamon desktop environment based on the GNOME 3 and originally developed for Linux Mint. The user interface of the Cinnamon is some feels of windows XP or 7 interfaces.
Same like the Gnome the Cinnamon user need to scale the user interface to support the HiDPI displays. For scaling, the resolution in Cinnamon open the Preference setting and select General and change the settings. In the Cinnamon, the windows borders are correctly sized to support the HiDPi display which is not in the case of Xfce or Mate.
Website Link to Download: http://developer.linuxmint.com/
Ubuntu’s Unity Linux desktop environment
Ubuntu’s Unity Linux desktop environment is one of the user-friendly environment that support the HiDPI displays too. Unity looks very sharp and great on high-resolution HiDPI displays. However, the Unity desktop is very popular but still by default is not going to scale the desktop to support the HiDPI displays and you need to stretch it manually.
To enable the HiDPI support in Unity desktops go to Unity dash and search for displays and select the display option. The display option will bring you to the monitor settings from where you can locate the option called “Scale for Menu and Title bars“. Select this option and change the value from 1 to 2 or 3 to scale the display UI to support the HiDPI monitors.
Website Link to Download: https://unity.ubuntu.com/
KDE Plasma Linux Desktop Environment
KDE Plasma is one of the clean and attractive Linux desktop environment available online. It has good reputation due to its vast range of customization capabilities which allow advanced users to modify it according to with their mood and situation. You can remove anything feels you irritating from the KDE desktop and setting can be changed accordingly.
It also supports HiDPI displays but not default and you need to scale it too. To enable the HiDPI displays to support in KDE plasma just go to Settings -> Displays and Monitors ->Display Configuration and then select the Scale Display option. Change the default value slider from 1 to 2 or 3 which increases the resolution of the KDE Plasma desktop too looks crisp and comfortable on HiDPI Displays which also known as Retina displays.
You can use KDE’s settings to fine tune font, icon, and widget scaling. This solution affects both Qt and Gtk+ applications.
To adjust only font scaling:
- System Settings → Fonts
- Check “Force fonts DPI” and adjust the DPI level to the desired value. To see the change you need to logout and login.
To adjust only icon scaling:
- System Settings → Icons → Advanced
- Choose the desired icon size for each category listed. This should take effect immediately.
Website Link to Download: https://www.kde.org/plasma-desktop