GTK3 regressions from a GTK2 perspective

My main issue is CSD... I hate that with a passion. There is software that I've loved for years and no longer use because they moved to CSD. Poor poor usability.

Scrolling on tabs is a pain, but can be fixed (slow progress currently, though)

Custom theme colors I can live without, and I understand the GTK team's motivation to remove it, but it makes me a bit sad inside.

However, I love HiDPI support (although it breaks Status Icons, since those are deprecated and no one thought of updating them for GTK3, wtf)


If it's green or nothing, I'm going to KDE once I upgrade from 16.04.

Which is a shame as I absouotely love Ubuntu Mate.

As it stands, I'm standing by 16.04 (with MATE 1.12) until it's run into the ground in April 2021. I haven't found an environment that can replace the stability of GTK2-built apps and workflows. GNOME 2/MATE + GTK2 presented an Ubuntu that gave me such a good first impression - it's why I switched. :heart_eyes:

I too avoid CSD apps and can usually spot the toolkit of an app - be it GTK3 or Qt. I mean, the open dialog box normally gives it away :wink:. But the entire desktop under GTK3? ... I'm not ready for that yet.

By the way, if anyone reading this recently moved to Ubuntu MATE or have no idea what we're talking about - we're just a bunch of users who fondly admire the way controls and buttons (GTK2) humanly interact with us as the standard a few years ago.

Eventually, I know we'll need to switch. Some nice things like being able to use my 4K monitor at its native resolution as opposed to 1080p; there's new versions of apps that may be stuck on old versions (due to dependencies). It'll be nice to have a complete set of indicators then a mix-match of new and legacy.

Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that theming alone is not as flexible as I would like - borders, colours and padding per element isn't enough. :frowning: Nevertheless, I created a pull request for Ambiant/Radiant-MATE of some tweaks.

I'd be happy if GTK3 upstream resolve the "regressions", but that could be a while. Nothing would stop someone patching GTK and providing builds in a PPA if anyone knows a developer who understands GTK3's inner workings. I'm a web developer then a C++ programmer. :sweat:

:bulb: I had an idea I'll try... take 18.04 and build MATE 1.12 under GTK2... and see if that's technically possible or feasible.


It should be. Multiple versions of GTK can (and do) coexist.

The main problem is not understanding GTK's inner workings. It's getting the GTK team to accept any patches from the non-GNOME community. A PPA is a local solution, but it would be a nightmare to maintain, considering how fast GTK moves...


I don't get why people hate gtk3, it's great as well as Mate.

I am not a big fan of CSD, but come on, some applications implement it right (usable).

Anyway, it's a global trend from all app developpers, on all systems, that would be hard or very costly to fight.

I don't think it is worth to fight this already lost battle.

I would prefer to see the Mate project continuing to focus on the fundamentals for a responsive and traditional desktop environment (panels, window management, workspaces, menus, file browsing, etc.), fix the bugs and get more momentum.

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I feel I need to be more specific in my answer.

I am using almost none of the default utility that come with Mate, preferring superior, better maintained and accidentally GTK3 applications:

  • Mate-terminal --> Tilix
  • Atril --> Evince
  • EoM --> EoG or Gthumb
  • mate-calc --> gnome-calculator
  • pluma --> gedit

Gnome-disk is already installed by default and it's great.

I only keep using Caja, because Nautilus really sucks and Nemo is not recent in the repos.

EDIT: I should add Engrampa, for its integration with Caja and because file-roller also sucks after the removal of some features (password setting).

I am feeling it's a dead-end. How the Mate community can continue to keep these forks on par with their newer alteratives?
Apparently, it's not going very well.

On the other side, I regret that some core components (panels, window managers, file browser) suffer from quite important and serious bugs that are not being fixed.

It's maybe an isolated opinion, but I don't care about basic utilities when I choose Mate. I care about having solid and configurable foundations.

Maybe the project should keep its resources to focus of them.

If you think GTK3 is bad, wait until GTK4 comes out. They already removed icons from menus because it's no longer fashionable.

Yeah, these were already deprecated on GTK3, which means building mate components produces a ton of warning messages...

Luckily, MATE is not moving to GTK4 any time soon, it'll be years before that becomes a real problem


All this make me think we're gonna have to start looking at Qt sometime in the future...

@Apollonius - that would be even harder than GTK... All of MATE is intrinsically tied to GTK, QT would be a full rewrite, essentially a brand new desktop environment.

Also, who knows what issues does QT have! MATE is one of the most accessible DE's for blind users, for example, and QT's accessibility support is nowhere near as good as GTK's.

Issues like that are important. And as much as we like to harp on the GTK team's decisions, it's still possibly the best toolkit around.



And I know little to no C++ to understand Qt than GTK anyway... :wink:

I only started using Linux around 2016. Before that I was a total ■■■■■■ when it came to programming and software and was a full-blown Windows user. So I don't know how GTK2 was in the good-old GNOME days, but I have fallen in love with MATE since coming across UM and have learned so much since then; and maybe because of that I don't see or feel all the nitty-gritty details that have regressed all over the years, but I have seen how stupendously GNOME 3 and/or GTK3 has been removing stuff to be a pleasant experience when I sit in front of my desktop.

And I understand the emotion behind of all the old users...

I have found MATE and UM to be reliable, and it works more than enough for me, despite the regressions. :slightly_smiling_face:


I wish you did, but you don't. I've been on three desktops technically; GNOME 2.xx, GNOME 2.xx but modified as my own desktop and xsession, and MATE. All of them foundationally GTK 2, two of the three options impossible. Then there came the change where certain GTK 2 apps aren't feasible because you can't just change gnome to mate in config files and have it work.

Now with 19.04 I cannot install my preferred (and less error-prone) global EQ without pulling in prior libraries which no longer exist in Canonical's Disco repos. It's BS.

I'm tired of change. All the moving's wearing me out. It makes Windows' interface design, even with the modern changes they've made feel more stable. At least, ten years from now I'll still know how to use Windows.


That I agree on! GNOME 3 has made an enormous change compared to what was done to Windows; it's no wonder so many people moved away...

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Huh? I'm uisng a pair of 43" 4K UHD displays just fine and have had four 1080p Virtualbox VMs displayed on one screen.

Under GTK3 (16.10 onwards), it does. GTK2 (16.04, which I'm on) doesn't natively support HiDPI. Plus, I've got some apps that don't scale properly (GIMP, Inkscape) without resorting to "hacks", until they update their code to GTK3.

SADLY, Gnome is brown-nosing RedHat and Pottering all the way... and we'll end up with a horrible OS that is not GNU/Linux any more, but "Red Hat systemD/Linux", with Gnome embedded in it (cursed are the ones that use another DE!) and no freedom of choice.

@Gonzalo_VC, what does SystemD have to do with GTK? Also, I would recommend reading the copyright notice on 90% of the files in the MATE source code: the desktop environment you love was, and still is, contributed to by Red Hat engineers.


All those things are orbiting around the same spot. GTK - Gnome people are bowing to RH decides, and Potterting stuff, made for RH is becoming MANDATORY in Gnome, and polluting a lot of things in the ecosystem. MATE will (even now) suffer the non-freedom situation. Can you have Ubuntu (any flavor, any platform) without systemD?

I don't have an issue with SystemD as it's not limiting my options like GTK3. I don't agree with a number of the so called advancements of GTK3 that are more like regressions compared to GTK2.

It's for this reason that my upgrade to 18.04 may involve a switch to Qt and a complete change of distro.

4 posts were split to a new topic: GTK3: Changing the overlay/momentium scroll bar