Windows 8, has a amazing new updated Magnifier Application, improved from Win7 for those of us who cannot see clearly.
Does Ubuntu have a Magnifying application which you can either mouse over, or crop a section of the screen to zoom in on it?
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Please see the following related answer:
The accessibility settings in 14.04 appear to have been changed to only include "enhanced zoom desktop", but you may find this a suitable alternative to a magnifier.
compizconfig-settings-manager per the linked answer, you will want to configure the enhanced desktop zoom such that you have a zoom in and zoom out key, at a minimum. From there, you can zoom as needed. The zoom follows your mouse as well, making it somewhat similar to a magnifier.
Virtual Magnifying Glass for Windows and Linux
Note. The lastest version does not work with Ubuntu LTS 14.04 Trusty 64 bit version (it worked with the previous 64 bit LTS version), due to the 32 bit nature of the compiled version of vmg for Linux. If you dont feel like compiling the source, the solution is reverting to the older version 3.2.1-1 by manually installing the contents of the i586.rpm (older version = no direct control of zoom factor by mouse wheel within the magnified window).
This is an addition to the "Virtual Magnifying Glass" answer...
The Linux version 3.3 (the tar.bz2 file) also works under Ubuntu Trusty 14.04 64 bit. Not the more recent ones, seemingly due to a specific Trusty 64 bit problem with the mouse wheel input to VMG.
The latest version of Virtual Magnifying Glass works with all versions of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise LTS.