Desktop for HiDPI – On the fence

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Desktop for HiDPI – On the fence

Post by galactichitchhiker » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:27 pm

I’d been using Kubuntu for years, and finally switched to Mint KDE back in 17.3. I have a 4K display on a 13” laptop (Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro), and the eventual transition from plasma 4 to plasma 5 didn't play out well on my laptop.

In previous editions of Mint KDE (First Plasma 5 editions), before the scaling option in the display settings was introduced, I fixed the tiny text and icon issues by forcing font DPI and increasing icon size. This solution worked, in general, except that in dolphin (icon view), the text for folder names wouldn't match the width of the icon (in icon view), and ended up cut-off, in two lines, which didn't look all that good. There were also issues with window sizes (dialogues, password prompts and apps, both QT and GTK—from Kdisk free to Gparted), which ends up getting pretty annoying. Scaling fixes didn’t apply to the login screen either.

After Mint 18.1, which didn't pan out for me, I finally switched to Cinnamon. It handles HiDPI much better. As a long time KDE user, I missed many of my QT apps (Dolphin, kate, etc.), but my main issue—which came as quite the surprise—was PERFORMANCE (Laptop has an i7-4500 quard-core @ 1.8Ghz & 8Gb RAM). Cinnamon uses a lot more RAM, and the system felt much less responsive than under KDE. All the same, I stuck with it for convenience (until 18.2).

I recently upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 (dual-boot: some of the apps I need for my job aren’t available for Linux), and decided to start with a clean slate, wipe the entire drive and do fresh install of Windows and Mint.

So...I decided to give Mint KDE another try and installed Mint KDE 18.3. Scaling is much better thanks to the scaling option in the display settings (I no longer have to adjust front dpi or increase icon size). But it doesn't fix everything:
  • Panel icons: adjusting the panel height only changes the size of the clock, but system tray icons stay the same size. To get them right (after LOADS of digging in forums), I found out I had to edit icon size in ~/.config/plasma-org.kde.plasma.desktop-appletsrcs. I’d pleased with the results if it weren’t for a couple of other things:
  • Window and dialogue sizes: Password prompts are too large, KDE partition manager and Gparted both open in small-sized Windows, so I have to resize the window and play with column width EVERY time I open them (system doesn’t seem to remember window sizes or column widths).
  • Scaling doesn’t apply to the login screen on system boot. If you log out and back in, it does, but on initial system start, icons and text on the login screen are TINY.
  • Removable drive notifications don’t disappear when you click on them.
  • There are a series of visual artefacts on the login screen and on virtual desktop switching (cube animation). These issue were present after initial install (all updates applied), and persist after updating the kernel to 4.13.0-37.
My ideal scenario would be to fix the KDE glitches, as I’m much more comfortable in the KDE environment (personal preference; don’t mean to start a DE war). It’s more responsive, I like most of KDE’s native apps better, and I find plasma has loads of tools and configurations that make things a lot more agile.

So...if anyone knows of any fixes for the issues I mentioned, it would be much appreciated :)

On the other hand, I found Cinnamon to be better adapted to HiDPI, and although somewhat sluggish, IMHO, it’s been (almost) entirely glitch-free, and more solid and stable

So if I can’t resolve the KDE issues, I’m willing to consider Cinnamon again—or Mate. Have their been any significant performance improvements in Cinnamon from 18.2 to 18.3? And how well does Mate handle HiDPI?

I’d very much appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

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