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My display is 4k. When I run VMWare, my linux guests look like postage stamps. Sadly, none of them support HDPI scaling (Running LXDE/XFCE mainly). I'm also interested in "Unity Mode", but unfortunately, the linux windows are unusably tiny as they're rendered at normal scale (1/4 the size).

I can think of a few ways to solve this

  • Get a HDPI aware Linux that also works well in a VM (*cough* GNOME *cough*)
  • Scale the VM output in VMWare
  • Scale VMWare (with the High DPI Scaling settings or whatnot)

Unfortunately, I have not been successful at any of these attempts. Is there any way to achieve what I want?

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I think you're headed down the right path. I believe that display technology has actually accelerated faster than the software behind it. I too have had trouble with 4k and Linux. With that said, I have a couple of ideas and comments.

  1. Ubuntu 14.04 with Unity does support highDPI settings, if that's an option for you it might be the easiest solution.
  2. I did find a few forums around people trying to run LXDE on a Retina Mac Book Pro, obviously it's not a 4k monitor, but the problem is the same. You might look around at some of their solutions like THIS one.

As a side note, you might consider getting involve in the community and submitting a feature request or bug report to the maintainers of the software you're trying to use.

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