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X11 low-resolution scrollable desktop

This setup is useful for running X11 on a Mac, and for older GNU/Linux-based X servers. Many newer Linux boxes can't do this anymore and will need a high-DPI setup instead (unless you want to use VNC-based magnification). The customisation below is for fonts and colours in the low-resolution desktop.

Configuration files

These are usually files and directories in your home directory whose names start with a dot (.).  You have to use ls -a to list them.  I do not recommend replacing your existing files with these without first checking that your existing files do not contain anything important.  Look at the files and see if you want to merge anything.

Window managers: flwm's colours can be configured at the command line from within .xsession, e.g. flwm -fg white -bg darkblue; if you have an old version that doesn't obey the -fg flag, you may be able to upgrade, or apply the patch I submitted to Debian bug #267983.  On some systems you may have to fall back to TWM in which case you could try this .twmrc.


If your system causes modern applications to render their fonts poorly at low resolution, you might also want to check my FreeType at low resolution page.

Some distributions also have a package big-cursor which provides large fonts for the mouse cursor (sometimes you can just install it, but very old versions might need a little setting up).

Don't forget to also adjust the monitor's `brightness' and `contrast' settings to comfortable levels. (I usually find a high `contrast' and a low `brightness' is better.)

If an application's bright background is hurting your eyes, and you cannot get it to change colours using the above configuration or any other method, then as a last resort you can try my VNC colour-inverting hack.

All material © Silas S. Brown unless otherwise stated.