tiagobt
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Resolution in Ubuntu 13.04 (Retina Display)

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I'm trying to use VMware Fusion 5.0.3 in a MacBook Pro with Retina display (15 inches). The idea is to run Ubuntu Linux 13.04 in a virtual machine, but I'm having problems with the screen resolution.

When I use the default settings, the highest resolution available inside Ubuntu is 2560x1600. Using this resolution, everything looks small, but the image is not very sharp. It looks as if the operating system were trying to simulate a high resolution on a low resolution display (which is not the case). Using the resolution 1680x1050, the size of the text and images is fine, but things are not as sharp as they could be.

My second attempt was to go to Virtual Machine > Settings > Display > Use full resolution for Retina display. In this case, the highest resolution available in Ubuntu is 3360x2100, which is higher than the real resolution of my display (2880x1800 - which is not listed as an option). Using high resolutions like this one makes the image really sharp, but everything looks too small. It's really hard to use. Using a resolution like 1920x1200 seems to be a good compromise. The image is fine and the size of text and images is OK. However, as soon as I restart Ubuntu, the resolution is set to the highest one available (3360x2100). Anyone else having this problem?

I've also tried to use the highest resolution available (3360x2100) and configure Ubuntu in a way that the the size of text, images and apps is not too small. However, I haven't managed to configure everything properly. Most apps (like Firefox) display things smaller than they should. Any idea how to configure Ubuntu properly in a high DPI display?

Was anyone able to configure Ubuntu 13.04 properly in a Retina display?

Thanks a lot!

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Mikero
Community Manager
Community Manager

HI tiagobt,

[...] However, as soon as I restart Ubuntu, the resolution is set to the highest one available (3360x2100). Anyone else having this problem?

I just tried and did observe this as well. Ubuntu 13.04,  I set the resolution to 1920x1200, Suspend the VM, resume the VM, it changes the resolution to 2880x1800. (mine maxes out there, which is what it should do).  I'll let the engineers know.

Using this resolution, everything looks small, but the image is not very sharp. It looks as if the operating system were trying to simulate a high resolution on a low resolution display (which is not the case). Using the resolution 1680x1050, the size of the text and images is fine, but things are not as sharp as they could be.

It actually is the opposite case.  You're rendering a low-pixel-density image on a high-pixel-density display.  When it's tiny, it is rendering pixels at a 1:1 (or close to it) ratio.  There are actually 2880x1800 physical pixels in the Mac's display.  Linux doesn't have the ability to be more 'dense' like how Apple has tweaked OS X for this display.  Same reason that Windows looks chunky at 'normal' resolution, and tiny at 1:1.

I've also tried to use the highest resolution available (3360x2100) and configure Ubuntu in a way that the the size of text, images and apps is not too small. However, I haven't managed to configure everything properly. Most apps (like Firefox) display things smaller than they should. Any idea how to configure Ubuntu properly in a high DPI display?

Ubuntu isn't designed for a High-DPI display, so anything you do to shoehorn it in is going to be met with compromises.  If they had a way of specifying the rendering density of the GUI, you could set the resolution to 2880x1800 and Ubuntu would make things sized/proportioned like 1440x900 but be super crisp. 

-
Michael Roy - PM/PMM: Fusion & Workstation

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Mikero
Community Manager
Community Manager

HI tiagobt,

[...] However, as soon as I restart Ubuntu, the resolution is set to the highest one available (3360x2100). Anyone else having this problem?

I just tried and did observe this as well. Ubuntu 13.04,  I set the resolution to 1920x1200, Suspend the VM, resume the VM, it changes the resolution to 2880x1800. (mine maxes out there, which is what it should do).  I'll let the engineers know.

Using this resolution, everything looks small, but the image is not very sharp. It looks as if the operating system were trying to simulate a high resolution on a low resolution display (which is not the case). Using the resolution 1680x1050, the size of the text and images is fine, but things are not as sharp as they could be.

It actually is the opposite case.  You're rendering a low-pixel-density image on a high-pixel-density display.  When it's tiny, it is rendering pixels at a 1:1 (or close to it) ratio.  There are actually 2880x1800 physical pixels in the Mac's display.  Linux doesn't have the ability to be more 'dense' like how Apple has tweaked OS X for this display.  Same reason that Windows looks chunky at 'normal' resolution, and tiny at 1:1.

I've also tried to use the highest resolution available (3360x2100) and configure Ubuntu in a way that the the size of text, images and apps is not too small. However, I haven't managed to configure everything properly. Most apps (like Firefox) display things smaller than they should. Any idea how to configure Ubuntu properly in a high DPI display?

Ubuntu isn't designed for a High-DPI display, so anything you do to shoehorn it in is going to be met with compromises.  If they had a way of specifying the rendering density of the GUI, you could set the resolution to 2880x1800 and Ubuntu would make things sized/proportioned like 1440x900 but be super crisp. 

-
Michael Roy - PM/PMM: Fusion & Workstation

View solution in original post

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tiagobt
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the answer, Mikero. That all makes sense.

When I said that "it looks as if the operating system were trying to simulate a high resolution on a low resolution display", I was actually referring to the situation in which the option "Use full resolution for Retina display" is disabled. The high resolutions are available inside Ubuntu, but it seems that the virtual machine is limited to a lower resolution. The operating system emulates the high resolution in terms of size, but the images are blurry. I don't think this problem is relevant, though. In this situation, I don't think the high resolutions should be available at all.

When the option "Use full resolution for Retina display" is enabled, things behave the way you described. The virtual machine has full access to the high-density display and the image becomes sharp and tiny. Indeed, Linux is not fully prepared to work with a high-density display. I've done a lot of research and found that Gnome Shell works a little better than Unity (specially if you tweak the font-scaling factor and use large icons). However, this setup is not good enough to be used on a daily basis. Maybe the next versions of Ubuntu will have better support for high-density displays.

By the way, I forgot to mention that, in Mac OS X, I'm using the scaled resolution that looks like 1680x1050. Which one are you using, Mikero? Maybe that's the reason why Ubuntu shows the option 3360x2100 for me, but not for you.

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tiagobt
Contributor
Contributor

I'm still having the problem of resolution change when I restart Ubuntu. Any news on that?

Thanks

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tiagobt
Contributor
Contributor

Does anyone know if the issue was fixed in VMware Fusion 6?

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