I'm planning on buying a Dell XPS 15 9530 (http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/xps-15-9530/pd?oc=smx15w8p003&model_id=xps-15-9530), which only comes with a QHD+ display (3.200 x 1.880).

I would like to know if Ubuntu 13.10 does work reliably on such display?

Also, I'd like to use the laptop together with a full HD external display. Will that be possible or would switching displays basically mean switching font sizes and such manually?



I'm a happy owner of this laptop. I did the installation without issues using a 13.10 booted from the USB port. Screen is working at its native resolution 3200x1800 but icons and all the rest are far too small to be workable. I currently switched it to 1920x1200 which is very good in terms of readability - there is black spaces left on both side of the screen but I will be able to extend the horizontal resolution to a custom one.

I didn't find a way to use the "touch" feature of the screen yet.

I didn't test second display yet.


[EDIT] Just another point regarding the touch feature: it works for very basic point / click / drag with a one-finger operation. That means you can simulate with one finger a mouse with one button (didn't find a way to operate a 'left-click') Anyway, this is quiet useless according to me since there's no management of gestures (for example to switch between virtual screens). I find out that support for gesture should be on the roadmap for Ubuntu 14.10 (Check Web8).

  • Thanks, could you take a picture / screen shot to demonstrate how much black spaces left on screen after switched to smaller resolution? Jan 23 '14 at 15:28
  • 1
    The black bars are because the screen is 16x9 aspect ratio, and 1920x1200 is a 16x10 aspect ratio... if he chose 1920x1080 it would fill the screen perfectly.
    – Nate Finch
    Jan 31 '14 at 18:22
  • -1 for the advice of setting a non-native resolution for a digital (LCD) display. That's a workaround, not a solution.
    – gertvdijk
    Sep 12 '14 at 11:03

I have the 9530 with two external monitors - 2560x1600 and 1920x1200. It works flawlessly across all of them. That being said there are a few drawbacks, Ubuntu hasn't been designed to run on hi-DPI screens.

Update - High DPI support was added in 14.04 and works great. You can scale up and down the font sizes for individual monitors, so they all look good.

You can scale the icons on the left up to a reasonable size, so they're a little small on the laptop screen and a little large on external screens. If you install Ubuntu Tweak (available from Software Center) you can modify the OS font size, which fixes a lot of the visibility issues. What it doesn't fix is the size of the icons in the top menu bar, and the size of the close, minimize, and maximize buttons... which can be hard to see and click on.

The 1920x1200 external screen I have is 24" and a rather normal DPI, and you can tell that the font in the top bar is larger than normal, but it's not egregious (and you can tweak it to make the best balance for you of small font on laptop screen vs. large font on external screen).

Canonical is pushing to get some fixes for high resolution screens into 14.04, but I'm not sure what the exact likelihood is of the fixes making it in, nor what specifically they're fixing.

One note is that Firefox is much better with scaling with the OS font than Chrome is. Chrome's tabs don't use the scaled system font at all, so they have sort of ridiculously small text. Firefox's tabs do scale with the OS font, so they look normal (though icons in the tabs are still pretty small).

Obviously, software support for hi-DPI screens is up to the individual application programmers, so you never know if one application will work better than the other... that beings said, Chrome is the only one I have used that is especially obviously broken.

  • Hi, I'm thinking to buy a QHD+ laptop and was wondering if now, Ubuntu is better for that kind of screen resolution. I plan to use it mainly alone, without any outside screens and the use would be work (development) mainly. What's your opinion about it? Also, some users of the XPS 15 have reported a noise when charging, do you confirm it with yours? Thanks for your answers :)
    – Cyril N.
    Aug 15 '14 at 9:59
  • Yes, Ubuntu has actually gotten much better with high DPI and it is mostly not a problem anymore. You can scale the fonts and icons up and down pretty much however you want.
    – Nate Finch
    Sep 12 '14 at 10:53
  • Well that scaling option now exists in "Screen Display" settings but it has no effects on many applications it seems, e.g. Emacs. askubuntu.com/questions/823529/…
    – xji
    Jan 13 '18 at 15:12

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