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Whenever I use Linux I have the distinct impression that it's somehow bigger. I wasn't certain what was so big; maybe it was the fonts, maybe it was just the ...
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  1. #1
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    Linux Bigity (er, Bigness!)


    Whenever I use Linux I have the distinct impression that it's somehow bigger. I wasn't certain what was so big; maybe it was the fonts, maybe it was just the spaces between lines, but whatever it was, it felt suffocating. In Windows, I was used to having several windows open and only one or two of them dominating the screen real estate. But in Linux it always seems like there's less space available.

    This is somewhat distressing to me because for the longest time I was annoyed about how much of my precious screen real estate Windows wasted! Whenever I install a new copy of Windows, I turned off all that stuff that uses extra space and yields minimal benefit, like the big "activity bar" on Explorer windows.

    Well, Linux fonts are bigger, but I switched to MS Sans Serif and things were still pretty big.

    Here are a couple of screen shots to illustrate. Consider the KDE "Appearance Box", which is comparable to the windows "Display Properties" box:




    The KDE box is 279% of the size of the windows box (730x692 vs 404x44, and although the KDE dialog has more settings, you can see that the Windows dialog would be able to fit more stuff if it wanted to (though not a big list like in the Linux dialog.) The irksome thing about these KDE boxes is that their minimum size equals the size of the largest page. None of the pages use all available space effectively, and some of the pages require very little space indeed.

    This is a bit of an extreme example, but there are others. For example, the KDE open/save boxes are significantly taller than the Windows ones when displaying the same number of rows.



    { Argh, I can't place the 4th image here because: "You have included 5 images in your message. You are limited to using 4 images so please go back and correct the problem and then continue again." }

    It seems that virtually all dialog boxes in Linux space out their controls much more than in Windows; and many dialogs use space inefficiently. I spent good money on my 19" LCD; I don't want to use up space on, well, space.

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    And the Windows one.

    Actually, linux partly "wins" here because you can make the box smaller. The Windows box insists on being tall so it can fit the sidebar on the left.

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    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    Are you running the same screen resolution in both? 1024x768? 800x600? Fonts, and all other sizes are configurable, you just have to find where to configure them. For instance, in konqueror, click on "settings," the "configure konqueror."
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    The size in pixels of a dialog box has nothing to do with the screen resolution. See for yourself, I've configured font sizes to be the same in Linux and Windows (well, actually I think it's a little shorter in Linux, yet perhaps wider at the same time)

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    Linux Guru dylunio's Avatar
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    As Dapper Dan stated, are the screen resolutions the same in both Linux and Windows?

    I have a Ubuntu install were the screen resolution is bigger than in Windows where I can fit more windows into the screen than in Windows, and I have a gentoo install which has a smaller screen resolution thus can fit fewer windows.

    You should also be aware of virtual desktops, I believe these are shown in the bottom KDE bar and can be very usful - in one you can put e.g. web apps in another you can open your office apps, and in another you can have your music player - this is a great utilization of space, but can take time getting used to if your from a Windows background.

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    i think i see what Qwertie is saying. i noticed this at first also (same resolutions). the title bar in kde is very large....but comparable to the one in windows xp.

    also, in the browser, the part of the window to the left may seem larger in linux because the title is to the right of the icons...it's under the icons in windows.

    one last thing, the display properties in kde and windows....the one in kde portrays more information (or, atleast, seems to) than windows does. the windows one requires you to open additoinal windows and use many dropdown boxes while the one in kde uses less dropdown boxes and doesn't (or rarely does) require you to open another window to view additional options

    i never payed much attention to the things other than the title bar before. i use gnome now though.

    anyways, as someone mentioned earlier, try to utilize the virtual desktops...that will free up a lot of space but does take a little getting used to

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    If you really don't like the way your desktop is displayed you could always try some of the others available. Fluxbox, with a high res, always seems to use less of the screen than other desktops (I think so at least).
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    Linux Engineer Zelmo's Avatar
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    You're exactly right about the resolution not being the problem. The biggest factor here is the window decorations and other theme settings. In the KDE Control Center, under Appearance & Themes, go into the Window Decorations and play around with alternate choices from the drop-down list. Some will put a smaller border around the windows, so there's less space wasted.
    Then go to the Style dialog and pick out a style with nice, clean buttons and such. A lot of the space in dialog boxes gets taken up by buttons and text input boxes, so if you can find a style that tightens those up and still looks visually appealing, that will save you some space.
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    i've noticed that if you use nv instead of nvidia in xorg.conf, your fonts will look bigger...maybe that is your problem too.

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    Can't you guys see the screen shots? There shouldn't be any question about the font sizes I'm using. If you count the pixels, an uppercase "A" is 9 pixels high in both Linux and Windows. The font is MS Sans Serif in both cases.

    Again, the size measured in pixels is not affected by screen resolution. But if you must know, yes, of course, I am running the same resolution in both systems (1280x1024). I have an LCD so a higher resolution is out of the question.

    And yes, I know about the virtual desktops feature but it's beside the point. It is far more comfortable to fit all the information you want to see on one screen when possible. However, I would like to know, is there a hotkey to switch between the virtual desktops?

    More influential than the font size, I think, is the spacing between controls. Windows developers might put half a blank line between two checkboxes, while it seems like Linux developers are more likely to use a whole blank line. When it comes to window decoration, you can customize the font but you can't customize the amount of empty space between different elements.

    Another issue is that dialog boxes don't try to optimize space, and I think my screenshot shows what I mean. That first box could fit almost the same amount of information into half the space, if a little effort were put into it.

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