Category Archives: nargery

Short explanation: Posts in this blog flagged “nargery” go into more detail than is polite in civilised company.

Longer explanation: Once upon a time at Cambridge (so the story goes), before the days of state-subsidised tuition, there were two kinds of people you might meet. There were the gentlemen, the sons of the gentry and nobility, who were at the university because they could afford to be. They were often not very interested in academic work, preferring to spend their time rowing and hunting and gambling at Newmarket.

There were also the people who were there on scholarships because they loved their subjects, worked hard, and were fanatical about what they did. They would even talk about their subject in fascinated tones outside of lectures and tutorials— even, perhaps, at parties! The gentlemen of leisure looked down on these students, of course: they would call such a person a “narg”, because he was Not A Real Gentleman.

So as time went on, people who talked shop outside the times when it was necessary were called nargs, doing so was narging, and the practice of indecently talking about your subject in public is nargery. The great majority of computer scientists are guilty of it.

See also the Jargon File.

Metacity and D-Bus

GNOME bug 531512 suggests that Metacity should have a D-Bus interface.  On the face of it, this is a good idea.  However, the problem lies in the existing EWMH specification, which allows a program to request operations from a window manager– simply put, it’s pretty much exactly what a D-Bus interface would be, but it […]

Theme speed

The speed Metacity renders decorations depends on the theme in use. If you want to time all the themes installed and view them, use: for G in $(locate metacity-theme-1|grep /usr/share/themes|cut -d/ -f5); do metacity-theme-viewer $G; done Mean client-side times on my system to draw each frame, in ascending order of speed: Prelude (the theme given […]

Take that, Descartes

Listen to this. Here are two ideas with which I broadly agree: A theme format is less useful without a program to edit the theme files.  Having to modify XML by hand is not a prospect which most people relish. If there’s to be a third version of the Metacity theme format, it would be […]


Listen to this . Launchpad bug 124326 requests a new titlebar button which minimises an application to the notification area rather than ordinary minimisation. Mostly this is currently done with the close button on the apps which support it, but some people feel it would be cleaner if these two functions were distinct. This action has […]

Dragging the window icon

Listen to this. A user writes: At the moment i’m trying to make a theme for metacity but I have no idea how I can make the document icon drag-able and to interact with the desktop environment i.e. drag to the desktop to save or to the trash to delete. Firstly, let me thank you […]

Window matching

Window matching is the process of identifying a new window as one we’ve seen before.  Of course every new window is new, and so we’ve never seen it before, but there’s an intuitive understanding that if you open a document in OpenOffice and then come back to it a week later that the window is […]

Know all men by these presents…

I tried to discuss the gtk_window_present() problem earlier, but I only managed to confuse myself. So here’s an extra rundown; perhaps we can move towards solving it. The problem is that there’s a call, gtk_window_present(), which is very vaguely specified: Presents a window to the user. This may mean raising the window in the stacking […]

Communicating with Metacity

Quite often people ask whether Metacity can talk to you across D-BUS, or something similar.  It can’t.  There is no need for this, because you can do pretty much anything you want using X messages.  In particular, you can use messages from the EWMH specification to perform pretty much any task you might want, and […]


When a window changes position or size, there are rules of thumb about how it should happen.  The trouble is that sometimes in real life these rules of thumb are contradictory, and we need a way to decide between them.  This all used to be done in an ad-hoc way, but in 2005 Elijah swooped […]

If the user will not come to the window, the window shall come to the user

Suppose you have two workspaces, and a window on each one. You’re looking at window A, so clearly window B is offscreen. You click something on window A, and window A attempts to present window B to you. What does that mean? Let’s have two concrete examples: 0x01: You’ve clicked a link in Pidgin’s buddy […]