GDM font seems to be to big or too high DPI

Bug #99145 reported by Jeff Abbott on 2007-03-30
This bug affects 3 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
gdm (Ubuntu)
Ubuntu Desktop Bugs

Bug Description

Binary package hint: gdm

I've got two laptops -- an IBM ThinkPad T42 with an ATI Radeon Mobility 9600 using the 'radeon' driver, and an HP Compaq nw8440 with an ATI FireGL v5200 using 'fglrx' -- and on the HP it looks like the GDM login window is using a font that's either too large or at too high a DPI. As a result, text doesn't fit quite as well as it should in the login username/password entry field. I tested with the default Human theme, as well as HumanCircle, HumanList, and Circles, and they all exhibited the same oversize font.

The IBM looks fine, so I compared the /etc/gdm/gdm.conf and /etc/X11/xorg.conf against the HP's. There were no differences in the former, and in the latter there were only the expected differences that one should see when comparing against an xorg.conf from a machine with different hardware. I've attached screenshots of both systems, as well as my gdm.conf and xorg.conf from the problematic HP.

Are there any other configuration files or screenshots you'd like to see? Where else should I be looking? It works just fine as it is, but it looks a little off and since I consider Ubuntu's highly polished appearance to be one of its strengths, even the most minor little quirks stick out like sore thumbs.


Jeff Abbott (fdivbug) wrote :
Jeff Abbott (fdivbug) wrote :
Jeff Abbott (fdivbug) wrote :
Jeff Abbott (fdivbug) wrote :
finalbeta (j-greenhouse) wrote :

Same issue on my Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop.

Changed in gdm:
status: Unconfirmed → Confirmed
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Thank you for your bug

Changed in gdm:
assignee: nobody → desktop-bugs
importance: Undecided → Low
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

that might be due to xorg

Jeremy Manning (jeremy-manning) wrote :

I confirm this bug on an Inspiron 8200 and Latitude D620 with NVidia video cards.

Steps to reproduce:

1.) Install ubuntu (fonts look good)
2.) Install nvidia driver (nvidia-glx)
3.) restart X
4.) fonts look too large

Barry Carroll (baz8080) wrote :

Hello All,

I had this problem too. Exact same steps to reproduce as Jeremy Manning.
A solution to this is to force GDM to use 96DPI fonts. This happened with
6.10 as well. I am using a dell XPS m1210 notebook, 12" screen, Nvidia

Steps to force 96DPI fonts:

1) Select 'Administration' from the 'System' menu
2) Select 'Login Window'
3) Select the 'Security' tab
4) Click on the 'Configure X-Server' button at the bottom of the screen
5) Append this argument to the text in the 'Command' text-field: '-dpi 96' (Without the ' marks)
6) Restart your X session to see the changes.

Jeff Abbott (fdivbug) wrote :

That does do the trick, Barry. Of course, then the text labels on the splash screen during login are mighty small. :-\

I'm not sure what the best workaround to this might be, or even if there's one that could be considered good enough to use by default.

Alex Zvoleff (azvoleff) wrote :

An easier fix:

1) Select 'Preferences' from the 'System' menu
2) Select 'Appearance'
3) Select the 'Fonts' tab
4) Click 'Details'
5) Change the resolution to 96 dpi

James (chiisu81) wrote :

Same problem for me in Gutsy Beta with default video driver. This has nothing to do with the font dpi set in the Appearance preferences, as mine was already set to 96 to begin with.

James (chiisu81) wrote :

After I used the Restricted Drivers Manager to install nvidia-glx-new, I rebooted and the font looked fine.

Gabriel (giovino) wrote :

I confirm this bug in 8.04 Beta on an Dell XPS M1710 with a NVidia video card.

Steps to reproduce:

1.) Install ubuntu (fonts look good)
2.) Install nvidia driver (nvidia-glx)
3.) restart X
4.) username / password fonts are too large

Steps to fix:

1. edit /usr/share/gdm/themes/Human/Human.xml
2. change /usr/share/gdm/themes/Human/Human.xml

 <item type="entry" id="user-pw-entry">
                <normal color="#000000" font="Sans 12"/>
                <pos y="2" x="2" width="-4" height="-4" anchor="nw"/>


 <item type="entry" id="user-pw-entry">
                <normal color="#000000" font="Sans 10"/>
                <pos y="2" x="2" width="-4" height="-4" anchor="nw"/>

Of course there could be other ways to fix but this worked for me.

Until DPI settings are fixed and supported system-wide, would it not be better to set the X server to 96 dpi by default? Currently the entire system is set to a static 96 dpi, and the vast majority of users fall into this category. The few users who do use higher resolution screens have to change the system-wide appearance anyway, so having to change the X server settings wouldn't be as big a deal.

Arrdee (rdmartin) wrote :

Confirmed on Hardy --> problem is with nvidia-glx-new. Fonts were fine when I booted up from a fresh Hardy install, and as soon as I installed nvidia-glx-new and rebooted, this problem cropped up. Removing nvidia-glx-new fixes the problem, but again, that's not really a good solution.

Should this be crosslisted under nvidia-glx-new?

Arrdee (rdmartin) wrote :

Also, this affects other fonts on my system, not just the GDM theme -- namely, Launchpad's fonts become large and unwieldy when nvidia-glx-new is installed.

ambient_sky (devicebusy) wrote :

Hi all!
I have an a HP Compaq nx7400 (Intel 945 grafics chipset), i have the same problems - in GDM fonts are abnormaly large.
Today i will try "force 96dpi" method, results i will place here.

ambient_sky (devicebusy) wrote :

P.S. Ubuntu 8.04 i386 release

ambient_sky (devicebusy) wrote :

Ok, -dpi 96 solve the problem, GDM fonts are ok.

Arrdee (rdmartin) wrote :

Yeah, the -dpi 96 fixed it for me, too.

ibizatunes (ibizatunes) wrote :

Yeah i have the same problem

hackel (hackel) wrote :

This is a serious issue. -dpi 96 should never be used, unless the actual DPI of your screen is 96, and for some reason it is not properly auto-detected. Every other program, including GDM and the login themes, needs to take into account a variable DPI, which is likely to be unique to each user. The drivers and xorg config need to always use the detected DPI, and only default to 96 if this auto-detection fails. It's really annoying how even on Linux a lot of developers seem to assume everyone will be using 96 dpi.

On a 15" screen, 96 dpi is usually 1280x1024 resolution, and most people I know are running 1024x768. My 15" screen is 1920x1200 or 147 dpi, so needless to say, everything looks too big!

I hope we can see this issue resolved at some point...DPI is a physical characteristic of a display and should never be changed. LCDs should never run at less than their native resolution, it's the size of the fonts that should change!

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Could somebody try if that's still an issue in karmic?

summary: - [feisty] GDM font seems to be to big or too high DPI
+ GDM font seems to be to big or too high DPI
Robert Ancell (robert-ancell) wrote :

We are closing this bug report because it lacks the information we need to investigate the problem, as described in the previous comments. Please reopen it if you can give us the missing information, and don't hesitate to submit bug reports in the future. To reopen the bug report you can click on the current status, under the Status column, and change the Status back to "New". Thanks again!

Changed in gdm (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Invalid
Jeff Abbott (fdivbug) wrote :

I'd test it again, but I no longer have either of these laptops. The font appears just fine on my Dell Latitude D630, for what it's worth.

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