Every now and then when working with Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS a strange thing happens: it suddenly looks as if the view was slightly 'zoomed in', i.e., not all of the screen-content is visible any more, and the resolution is suddenly ever so slighly blurred. Moreover, while the touchpad still works, but when using it, the whole view is 'panned'/shifted in the opposite direction of my movement on the touchpad.

I don't know how to end this state other than by a complete reboot. I also don't know what triggers this strange state of the operating system.

Question. Is this a bug or a feature, and how can one turn this off again without resorting to restarting the system?

  • So, does this happen when you press a combination of keys or something? It seems like when you enter that mode you're using some kind of virtual desktop resolution. What is your graphics card? Did you install compizconfig-settings-manager or ubuntu-tweak? – devius Mar 3 '18 at 9:06
  • Saying 'for s in $(lspci | grep VGA | awk '{print$1}'); do lspci -v $s; done' results in the graphic card being described thus: "VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation Device 1c60 (rev a1) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) Subsystem: CLEVO/KAPOK Computer Device 67b4 Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 131 Memory at db0000000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16M] Memory at b0000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=256m] Memory at c0000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=32M] I/O ports at e000 [size=128] [virtual] Expansion ROM at 000c0000 [disabled][size=128K]... (running out of space) – guest Mar 3 '18 at 10:25
  • @devius: neither compizconfig-settings-manager or ubuntu-tweak were consciously installed by me; should I try, and what should I do if they are? – guest Mar 3 '18 at 10:26
  • Can you check this answer and see if you have enabled Enhanced Zoom Desktop? – devius Mar 3 '18 at 12:47

By accident, I today found a solution (for my very particular issue).

This might be useful to someone else (for this zooming-feature can be almost crippling to your work-flow when you don't know how to turn it off again). The solution was found randomly: today I accidentally but consciously did the hand-move which triggers the zooming, and I had the presence of mind of stopping to think of what I did and how to reverse it, and will describe it now.

The facts of the matter are the following:

  • In Ubuntu Version

    Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS

release 16.04, Codename xenial, on my system, the following is true:

if I hold down the Alt key and simultaneously put exactly two fingers on the touchpad, then sliding the fingers towards the keyboard results in a zoom-in effect, while sliding the fingers away from the keyboard results in a zoom-out effect. The zoom-effect persists after taking all fingers away from the machine (this is the reason why this feature can be crippling: if you do this zooming-in move accidentally, and don't know how to reverse it, then you'll have to work with a heavily zoomed view, which slows you down significantly).

Notably, I tried this on another machine having Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS installed; there, nothing happens if I do the above-mentioned moves. The versions differ by 1 only, and it seems that in the newer version this interesting though dangerous feature was removed.

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