Have a look at this screenshot of my desktop: enter image description here

The resolution on Steam is tiny, but the resolution on the terminal is normal. Up in the upper right, different icons have different resolutions. The Steam icon is normal, while the dropbox icon is small.

When I plug in my external monitor, I can use xrandr to make the resolution 2650x1440. But I can't use the built-in GUI. If I hit the super key and type in "display", nothing happens. I suspect that this is related.

In fact, none of the settings come up.

What's going on here? Why do some windows follow one resolution and others follow another? Is it related to the inaccessibility of the settings GUI windows?

This all happened after a routine update that changed the look of Cinnamon slightly.


The following discussion explains how to configure the resolution with xrand.

I don't believe that Ubuntu is compatible with 4k, I have been trying to configure it for several weeks and failed.

1) Configure some of the most popular applications to scale correctly on 4k high-dpi.

2) Follow this instruction to configure Ubuntu apps (spotify, steam and many other apps) for high-dpi

For your issue with steam I quote HiDPI Archive Steam page


Official HiDPI support

Starting on 25 of January 2018 in the beta program there is actual support for HiDPI and it should be automatically detected.

Steam > Settings > Interface, check "Enlarge text and icons based on monitor size" (restart required)

If it not automatically detected use GDK_SCALE=2 to set the desired scale factor.


The HiDPI-Steam-Skin can be installed to increase the font size of the interface. While not perfect, it does improve usability. Note: The README for the HiDPI skin lists several possible locations for where to place the skin. The correct folder out of these can be identified by the presence of a file named skins_readme.txt.

MetroSkin Unofficial Patch also helps with HiDPI on Steam with Linux.

3) Create a desktop entry and run a custom script

Delete and Create a new desktop entry for an application to run a custom terminal command. For ex. the desktop entry for chrome could run google-chrome --force-device-scale-factor=2 command to fix the dpi issues. The steps are described in this discussion

Other examples for spotify and virtual box.

4) Set up a custom script to fix java application resolution

  • Thanks for all of this. I know how to use xrandr, but I still don't understand why some applications scale differently from others. Also, everything looked normal with this hardware until I did a software upgrade. Then everything changed. So this isn't a hardware problem, or even a driver problem. – generic_user Apr 28 at 16:54
  • @generic_user Update to the beta version of the Steam client, as this supports HiDPI as of 25th January 2018 23. – Fabrizio Bertoglio Apr 28 at 17:18

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