Category Archives: Letters

Come calm content serene and sweet

Most themes place the icon of the current application somewhere on the titlebar. Some operating systems (notably OS X) allow you to drag this icon as if it was the very file which is being viewed in that window. This behaviour has been suggested for Metacity in the past. One of the two main problems […]

The order of windows in alt-tab

When you press alt-tab under Metacity, the windows you see in the switcher are displayed in most-recently-used (MRU) order, except that minimised windows are always sorted to the end, and urgent (“needs attention”) windows are sorted to the beginning. A comment in the source describes this as “Windows sellout mode”. In a recent blog post, […]

Setting the button order

Ubuntu Lucid Lynx was released last week. It modifies the order of the titlebar buttons so that they all appear on the left-hand side. Some people would like the buttons in another order. This post explains how to change the order of the buttons. Firstly, decide which buttons you want: Here are your choices. Only […]

How to help with Metacity

Someone was asking how they could help with Metacity. Here are some thoughts. Why it’s important.  Metacity is (for now) the official window manager of the GNOME desktop.  Even though Metacity supports compositing, one of its strengths is that it can also run in a non-composited mode: plenty of people run Metacity who can’t or […]


In the comments to a previous post, we were asked about implementing tabs in the window manager.  Calum pointed out that the HIG recommends against applications adding their own document-level tabs on the grounds that this is a job for the window manager.  Yet the window manager has never risen to the challenge, and very […]

Future directions of Cowbell

Future directions. Here’s where Cowbell is going next: The existing functionality is going to be moved into a library called libcowbell.  Very little will be changed at this point from what we already have.  (But there will be some extra tests.) A release of the metacity-cowbell branch will be made that can use libcowbell. A […]

Apologia for CSS

This blog is not about to become devoted to the single topic of experimental CSS theming, but some interesting points were raised in the discussion yesterday, which spilled over to Slashdot.  We should have emphasised the experimental nature of the CSS subsystem in its name: perhaps “CSS On Window Borders Experimental Layout Language”. Why? Some […]

Window matching experiment

At the Collabora party, Robert Ancell asked me how difficult it would be to implement window matching in Metacity. I decided this was an interesting question and spent an hour and a half today working on it. The results are now in the matching branch in GNOME git. If you’d like to download it and […]

Notes from Gran Canaria

Lots of happy buzz about window managers here at the desktop summit.  Some things people have said: Someone asked about implementing window matching.  It’s always been our policy that it should be done with an external tool, but policies can of course be rethought.  We might implement it in a branch and see whether anyone […]

meta_warning() and dialogue boxes

I didn’t expect to get useful suggestions from the Linux Haters’ blogs, but here’s something that might fly: they point out that warnings from the window manager end up in .xsession-errors where nobody ever sees them. But now that we’re using Zenity for dialogues throughout, there’s no reason why we can’t adapt meta_warning() to put up […]