Big Button Game: Metacity Introduces Flexibility

Mar 25, 2010

The current button arrangement redesign in Ubuntu causes numerous bugs in GNOME and Ubuntu. The Metacity team now wants to step in.

The recent hot discussion around the redesign of the three standard window buttons to move them from right to left in the Ubuntu 10.04 window alerted Metacity window manager developers to a problem they've long been grappling with: if a designer includes specific images for the buttons in a developed theme, they can't be moved without breaking the underlying design.

A GNOME user can now freely determine where the buttons go, but themes present a special problem in that the button_layout key specifies their position in the GNOME configuration. The solution is not optimal because button_layout is persisted across themes (the global setting) so that a user can't change the positioning when introducing a new theme.

GNOME developers want to solve this problem so that future themes will overwrite the button_layout setting, which would require a new Themes v3 format. Metacity developer Thomas Thurman in his blog is rather recommending a workaround involving a separate GKeyFile configuration file in the theme directory that would parse the key-value file to set the button layout for any new theme.

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