How to Enable Fractional Scaling in Gnome

Fractional scaling is practically necessary if you’re running a HiDPI display, and you want your desktop to scale uniformly to match your display. It’s always been an issue on Linux, but the latest version of the GNOME desktop has implemented a true fractional scaling feature to keep your desktop looking good.

Even though GNOME 3.26 does have fractional scaling support, it wasn’t mature enough to make the release. As a result, it’s still a testing feature that you need to enable yourself.

Fractional scaling was introduced informally in GNOME 3.26. As of right now, that is the absolute latest release and hasn’t made it into a lot of distribution repositories.

GNOME 3.26 will be the default desktop environment of Ubuntu 17.10, which is in its final beta. If you really need this feature, consider upgrading. Fedora 27 beta currently has GNOME 3.26, and it’s in the testing repositories of Arch Linux (not for long).

Enable scaling settings GNOME

Because the fractional scaling feature wasn’t entirely ready for the release, you need to enable access to it yourself. It’s not too hard. You only need to run a single command.

That command will directly interact with the GNOME Shell and enable the feature.

GNOME Scaling Settings

Now that you have scaling enabled, you can experiment with it and find the right fit for your system.

Open your system settings and navigate to “Devices,” then “Displays.” You can choose the orientation, resolution, and, of course, the scale. Currently, the scaling ranges from 100% to 200% in 25% increments. That can possibly change in the future, but it still provides a reasonably robust set of options to fit your display.

Try different options to see what looks best and save it. Because this is integrated into GNOME itself, everything is handled through your common system interface.

That’s it! Hopefully, GNOME was able to adapt to improve your HiDPI experience.

10 comments

  1. I am using Ubuntu 17.10 on Dell XPS 15 9560 core i7 and screen 4k resolution and the additional display is Dell U2715Hc, 27″ and 2k resolution and this feature is not working.

    Maybe if the Built-in screen is 4k and the additional screen is 1080p could work, but with mine, I can see only the original scale, but the apply button disappears when I try to change that.

    • I wasn’t able to test on two high resolution displays like that, so I’m not entirely sure. Have you tried it with just the 4k built-in display? That’d at least remove the additional display as a variable.

      If you haven’t tried logging out and logging back in, try that too. It seems simple, but the desktop environment might need to reload to reflect the changes.

      • After the last Xorg upgrade that happened today I could use this feature, but if the screen sleep I can’t make it work again without restart the notebook. Another thing is that the image in the built-in screen stay a little blur, but at the additional screen the image is good and working at 2k resolution.

        Thanks for your reply.

  2. I’ve executed the command but fractional scaling doesn’t appear in my system settings. Running Solus with GNOME 3.26.1

    • I’m not sure about Solus. I tested with Ubuntu and Fedora. They may have compiled without the experimental features, if that’s possible.

  3. gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features “[‘scale-monitor-framebuffer’]”

    No such key “experimental-features”

    • Ahh, I just noticed this. Is there any way to do something similar to this fractional icon scaling if one needs to use the nvidia driver binaries (e.g. for cuda)?

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