Adventures with my Pixelbook: Linux Scaling Mode

This is just a quick update on one of the largest issues I've had with the ChromeOS Linux app support: display scaling.

ChromeOS has a display scaling mode for Linux applications that don't handle the high-DPI screen very well, and it generally works okay. It's a bit blurry, but better than having a tiny UI in some applications.

The downside is that to enable this mode for an app, you need to pin that app to your taskbar.

I'm not particularly fond of having a full taskbar, so I like to keep just the essentials on there - and what about apps I need to launch with command line parameters? Those can't be pinned to the taskbar without losing that ability.

If you've run into this issue, then don't worry - there is a solution!

ChromeOS's Linux container is allowed to draw to the screen through a special X11 server that is run inside the container, and then forwards that image to the Wayland server running in ChromeOS. The magical screen scaling? It's just a second X11 server!

Therein lies the trick to start apps with window scaling, simply set the DISPLAY environment variable to :1.

shell
1
DISPLAY=:1 firefox

Enjoy running your Linux apps without needing a magnifying glass!