Ubuntu is working to improve its support for high pixel density displays. 

A code snapshot of Cairo 1.3, which supports the scaling and rendering of GTK assets on HiDPI screens, has been made available to trial in Ubuntu 14.04 through a PPA.

While I don’t have one of these new-fangled ‘high resolution’ displays to try it with, in theory the changes should go a long way to making Ubuntu more useable under native resolutions.

Unity Retina Display
Squint Mode: Ubuntu Doesn’t Scale on HiDPI Screens At Present

That said, even with the changes Cairo brings the end result won’t be entirely flawless.

As in GNOME, pixel precise scaling of vector-based UI components, like icons, GTK+ widgets and themes, will look suitably better. But applications making heavy use of bitmap assets will mean that the odd spot of fuzziness or pixelation remains.

As an aside, Mac OS X works around this by scaling down bigger sized assets rather than scaling up smaller ones.

With Ubuntu 14.04 LTS supported until 2019, during which time HiDPI screens are only going to become more ubiquitous, ditching ‘squinting’ for ‘scaling’ sounds like a smart idea.

retina display Trusty Tahr