More pixels…

… by using less fixed pixel sizes.

After a bit of fighting with the graphics chip I’m running KDE now on a MacBook Pro with Retina display. KDE looks awesome on this screen after I increased every possible size option I could find in System Settings. Only the fonts scaled nicely with the huge DPI setting of 200 on their own – the rest needed to be tweaked manually. Nevertheless, at least KDE allows the user to change this stuff and this screenshot shows a few KDE examples which scale well and some non-KDE apps which do not play along that well:


(link to full sized image)

As you can see, Dolphin and rekonq adjust quite well to my DPI settings, while Chromium ignores it completely. Tomahawk had most of the fonts hardcoded with setPixelSize().

But to be fair, not everything is perfect in KDE land too. Have a look at the notifcation area (aka. system tray) in the upper screenshot. Also KMix’s and PowerDevil’s OSDs looked like this:

Luckily enough, most of the times those issues are quite easy to fix. In this case it’s just about adjusting the icon and container size to the font size to make it look like this:

For more complex user interfaces like Tomahawk it’s obviously lots more work as just increasing the font sizes ends up in breaking all the layouts. However, I have already fixed most of the stuff there too. If you want to use Tomahawk on such a screen already, check out the branch “retina” in its git repository.

So if you find yourself typing the word “setPixelSize()” or some fixed size for a layout/widget/image/whatever for the next time, think twice. Even if your application is meant to run only on the Desktop, it does not mean that there will always be roughly the same pixel size everywhere. I’m sure we will see pop up high-resolution screens like the Apple Retina screen soon from other manufacturers too.

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3 Responses to More pixels…

  1. David says:

    Not sure if you’ll see this comment – but if you do, can you share what all of the settings are you tweaked to get your desktop looking like that? I’m using KDE on my Chromebook pixel and even after changing the font and icon sizes, the window borders, taskbar, etc. are all microscopic.

    • Michael says:

      window borders: systemsettings -> workspace appearance -> window decorations -> configure decoration -> set “border size” and “button size” to very large
      taskbar: systemsettings -> application appearance -> icons -> advanced -> set “Toolbar” and “Main Toolbar” to preferred size

      I also like to set systemsettings -> application appearance -> style -> fine tuning -> toolbars to the “Text Below Icons” which I guess makes the toolbars look bigger too.

      For the panels, just unlock the plasma widgets, click on the cashew in the panel and drag it to your preferred size. Everything but the notification area (aka system tray) will scale nicely. For the system tray itself, I completely removed it and added the widgets for network, battery, notifications etc manually as separate plasmoids to the panel. That makes them scale nicely too. Only some icons (like Bluetooth and volume) don’t exist as standalone plasmoids and cannot be scaled.

  2. Mariolina says:

    it before, but I will say it again: sytsary should be killed. Granted, it couldn’t REALLY be done right now, due to various legacy-systems that use sytsary. But it should be killed as far as KDE4-apps are concerned.It’s way too easy to pile icons in there. And while being able to hide icons helps out, it also makes it easier to keep on piling more and more icons in there.Right now there are loads of apps and services that put an icon in the sytsary without really thinking about whether that icon is really needed. End-result is sytsarys that are brinmming with icons. And that multitude of icons means that the sytsary becomes less and less useful.IMO, sytsary should only display icons that are actively telling user something at that very moment. But even the we should ask: Why not use Knotify instead? Well, why not?For example: Various online-updaters distros use. Why do we have a sytsary-icons with bubbles that tell us when updates are available? Why not use Knotify instead? Why do we need to have an icon in the sytsary telling us “there are no updates available”? It’s madness, that’s what it is.I’d say that there’s nothing Systray provides that couldn’t be provided with the combination of plasmoids, Knotify and maybe Krunner. The sooner we kill the abomination that is the sytsary, the better off we will be.When there is a will, there is a way.

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