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GNOME 45 to Redesign Display Options and Fractional Scaling Tweaks

GNOME is planning to have a revamped display settings to make it easy for users to understand fractional scaling.

GNOME is one of the most popular desktop environment choices out there. Used by many distros, it's a community favorite.

With every major release, GNOME gets many new features and improvements. This time around, we seem to have an early sneak peek at one of them.

It was just a while back when we mentioned that GNOME is considering bringing back the terminal app, and adding a new webcam app and an image viewer.

What's Happening: According to a recent GitLab issue posted by Allan Day from the GNOME design team, we might be getting a redesigned display settings menu with an updated option for Fractional Scaling.

He mentions:

The current fractional scaling setting is just a long list of percentage options. If this setting is going to be exposed more widely (which I think it is), we ought to do a better job. Specifically, we need to reduce the number of options presented and ideally have some kind of preview.

The other thing we need is a switch for the legacy compatibility mode, to allow overriding the defaults, in order for people to use certain X11 apps.

Well, he is not wrong. The current Fractional Scaling setup is just a percentage slider, which is not that user-friendly.

Luckily, the redesign looks much easier to use. Alan shared a few mockups that give an idea of how the redesigned display settings might look in the future.

As you can see below, the percentage slider has been replaced with a more intuitive selection window. It shows an example text (preview) with the scaling percentage.

The preview text here is not final. It can have a different text or something more detailed to give users a preview of what they can expect with a scaling setting.

However, adding a preview should make it clearer to what scaling does to new users.

There is also an option to enable 'Legacy HiDPI Compatibility' that will enable Fractional Scaling.

He also shared a mockup for multiple displays attached to the system. The redesign makes it easier to find the required options, and the overall interface looks quite clean.

A new change display dialog was also showcased that looks minimal and easy to use.

When to Expect: My best bet would be that this might be implemented with the GNOME 45 release set to be introduced later this year. If that doesn't pan out, then as part of a later point release would be my second-best guess.

In case you are wondering, what's the fuss over Fractional Scaling?

Well, users with higher resolution displays, such as 2K or 4k, usually suffer badly with conventional scaling that makes the screen elements too big or too small.

To counteract that, Fractional Scaling comes to the rescue by using fractional values to scale any program according to the user's need. This, in turn, also gives better control to the user, as they now have more options to scale through and are not limited to integer values.

I know, I know too much technical jargon if you are hearing about it for the first time! 😵

You may review one of our articles on it for a better outlook on how it currently works:

Icons Look too Small? Enable Fractional Scaling to Enjoy Your HiDPI 4K Screen in Ubuntu Linux
A few months ago, I bought a Dell XPS laptop with a 4K UHD screen. The screen resolution is 3840×2400 resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio. When I was installing Ubuntu on it, everything looked so small. The desktop icons, applications, menus, items in the top panel, everything.

I must say that this potential redesign of the display settings can prove to be more accessible than before, especially for first-time users.

You may go through the GitLab issue to dive deeper into this redesign.

Overall, GNOME 45 will feature some visual makeover for a few settings, if not much.

💬 What do you think about this proposed idea for GNOME? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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