Resizing borders too thin


First of all, many thanks for all the hard work. I am preparing a switch to Ubuntu MATE when I upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04. There are many desktop environments out there, but they all have fundamental problems somehow.

If there is one issue that really needs attention, it is the extremely thin window resizing borders. I myself have read all about it, and I got used to Alt+Mouse resizing to the extent that I miss it dearly when I am not using Linux. But this is a problem for many other people.

I often try to convince other people that Linux is the way forward. I normally face stiff resistance, especially from non-techies. When I expose somebody new to Xfce or MATE, the first thing they notice is the strange taskbar layout, but I can fix that in a couple of minutes. And then, they tend to discover that they cannot resize windows. Many people just cannot move the mouse or touchpad accurately enough to grab the very thin window resizing border.

I am talking about a default installation of Ubuntu MATE 18.04. My display is not even HiDPI. This is not just a single issue, it’s a glaring symptom of neglect. It happens to everybody, every time. Since years. It has been discussed everywhere. There are blog posts about this for Xfce and MATE. I often hear comments from new users along the lines of “this is why people don’t use Linux”.

Choosing another UI theme is not a good solution. A theme is an all-or-nothing approach, and there may be other things you do not like in the new theme. Or that theme may still fall short if you do switch to a HiPDI display. Besides, who wants to test several themes until you find one with fat window borders? I am a developer, and I am not prepared myself to edit theme files which may get overwritten by the next system update.

On Microsoft Windows, you just adjust the window border size to your liking. There is a bug in Caja suggesting an invisible frame around windows to make resizing easier. I am sure there are many other suggestions and discussions around. But nothing has happened yet.

I would not underestimate such usability issues. It quickly drives people away. A successful user base cannot be made of just geeks.

Is there a reason why this problem has not been addressed yet? Or is this truly another flagrant example of open source UI neglect?


I’ve pointed this out time and again, but so far nothing has happened. :frowning: So the first thing I do after installation is edit the metacity theme XML and increase the border width. But that really should not be something the end user has to do.


See -

where the suggested action is to press Alt + F8 to start resizing, then use the arrow keys to resize the window. Pressing Return will save your resize, pressing Escape will revert the resize back.


That should not be necessary. The borders should be large enough for comfortable resizing out of the box, workarounds sadly do not cut it.

The 1px borders assume there is some “magic” taking care of adding invisible grab-space around the windows like Compiz does…


That’s the key, which comes from using a theme based on the one used by Unity, which (only) compiz. I prefer the small border look, but it’s not ideal with Marco.


I use Alt + right click on the mouse when i start to struggle to find the the good place
I have read it here in the forum and now i use it almost always as it allows you to resize without searching a pixel (you can resize even from the middle of the window (Alt+ right click and and arrow appear = just drag while you are still on the Alt and right click).

There is a space in the window where you have a lot more pixels than the 1 usual pixel without using any tips given here, just a pure mouse hover and click => it’s the top right corner (or top left depending the theme, i am using Cuppertino with the button on the left(Mac style) so the top righ is buttons free).
Put your mouse on the top right(or left) corner and you will see an arrow appear quite quickly without struggling seaching for a pixel.

Having said that, I am like every one… why? okay now i have to use it, but, I mean the UM beginner arrive and do not know about the Alt+ right click or other tips given above… Little things like that can disappoint the new user. OK it’s Easy to say “why” => But UM is a lovely distro! I “tried” few distros before my switch and it’s now more than a year and a half i’m sticking with UM and not seeking for something else :wink:


To address the original concern, I’ve been working on increasing the resize borders for a while now, but it’s not quite trivial. It takes a fair amount of work to update the entire window manager ui theme system to take resize borders into account. I’ve gotten them to work properly, but it causes all sorts of nasty display issues.

Based on where I’m at with it, I’ve considered ditching my efforts and start again from scratch to see how far I get this time around.

In either case, this is a pretty complex problem to solve in marco :confused:


Thanks for your efforts. In the meantime, it may be worth just supplying 1 or 2 themes named “xxx-Marco”, like “My-Theme-Dark-Marco”, which is the same as some popular “My-Theme-Dark” theme, but just has bigger borders. And make it the default if you install Ubuntu MATE. It is a stop gap solution, but it would be good enough for most users. At least compared to the current situation: do a default installation, and the realise you cannot resize windows the normal way.


Just remember, Windows is not the benchmark by which every other OS needs to be judged, therefore there is no prerequisite for every OS to behave identically to Windows.

Due to the fact that Linux is not Windows, the next time someone asks about resizing windows, simply show them [Alt] and [Right Click] + drag in the direction you want the window to be resized to. It’s not in any way hard.


It is if you’re disabled. GNOME’s decision to wreck grabable borders is a significant accessibility issue.


No it’s not. If that’s the situation, right click on the top bar of the window and select ‘resize’.

Gnome no longer develop MATE.


I think if you (@vkareh) can solve this, plus with the compositing stuff you’ve done, they should rename Marco to Victor :wink:



I’ve considered writing a new window manager and calling it Polo as a joke. But the truth is that Marco doesn’t refer to the name, it just means Frame in Spanish (as in window frame).

Either way, Victor WM has a nice ring to it :wink:


I actually didn’t know about the Alt+Mouse trick, meaning I’ve generally been avoiding resizing windows too much :sweat_smile:. I prefer working full-screen and using workspaces anyways.
Thanks for teaching me something new!


I assume you want as many people as possible to enjoy MATE. In that case, your attitude is counterproductive. You do not half-bake a window resizing feature that looks like everybody else’s (not just Windows), so that it is hard to use, and at the same time expect people to like your system. Instead of learning your ways, people will just sneer at you.


I never really noticed this issue until I saw your post! I guess it didn’t/doesn’t bother me very much, but I’d like to put it out there that this IS an issue, and it’d be swell not to have it someday.:slight_smile:


It’s not half baked at all, that’s how Ubuntu Mate operates.

As stated, this is an OS unto itself. There is no prerequisite for Ubuntu MATE to act identically to any other OS out there.

[Alt]+[Right Click]+Drag = Resize window. It’s the way it’s always been. If you’re impaired, there’s a handy menu allowing you to do the same thing.


If you have multiple ways of resizing then both should work.
Assuming Alt+RightClick+Drag was really supposed the only way UM should allow you to resize then one might as well throw out window border resizing completely … but if it is not, then window border resizing should be easy to use.

“Being different for the sake of being different” isn’t a compelling argument in my book, especially considering how insanely customizable UM is in so many other ways - with Windows-, Mac- and Unity-lookalike layouts, for example.


You’re forgetting about touchpad/clickpad users, laptop users. Alt + right click isn’t easy on such device. MATE’s default theme Menta has comfortable borders, Xfce’s default too.


I find it interesting how the addition of the [Alt] button makes things impossible. As a laptop user I don’t find pressing the [Alt] button in combination with a right click in any way difficult. It’s the addition of ‘one button’.

I also find it interesting how it’s assumed it’s an ‘issue’ with the DM. You honestly don’t think the developers of the MATE DM wouldn’t have made sure windows resizing didn’t work exactly as they wanted it to?

Personally, I don’t like the way Windows 10 is a mishmash of touch and desktop UI, I want my desktop/laptop to run a desktop oriented OS. But, that’s how Windows 10 is and hence I don’t use it.