How to re-enable use of window manager banner and decorations?

After the lastest upgrade, the window manager banner and decorations are gone and meld instead puts three window operation buttons at the right end of the meld toolbar. Unfortunately that makes meld look/act different from everything else in my system (not to mention all of the window operations that are now just plain unavailable for the meld window).

How to I configure meld to let the window manager handle the management of windows?


FWIW, this problem seems to have happened when meld was updated from 3.20.4 to 3.22.0 (on Gentoo Linux).

For now, I’m going to revert back to 3.20.4, but hopefully there’s a way to get 3.22 to play nicely?

Meld has moved to using the standard GTK header bar widget, so as far as I know it’s not possible to have the window manager responsible for decorations.

As for the missing window operations, we use the GTK-wide configuration which you can change with Tweak Tool (or use gtk-decoration-layout in ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini).

Thanks, that’s what I was afraid of.

I find it very sad that Linux is becoming so much more like Microsoft Windows in that there’s no room for diversity and individual choice. The attitude now seems to be “forget about standards and compatibility and user preferences — in order to use application X, you have to use desktop Y and window manager Z, and you have to use them like this”.

That still makes Meld behave differently from everything else. I guess I’ll either find a meld replacement (which is also sad, since I’ve been using it for many years — could it be almost 20?) or see if something like gtk3-classic can make meld usable again.


That is not a recent change, there has never been any other attitude. Please consider reading these writings:

Choosing our Preferences

Is Linux About Choice?

The point with headerbars and such is to follow the GNOME HIG and make it standard and consistent in regards to GNOME. If it was changed back then it would behave differently from all other GNOME apps. So you can see it is not really possible for an app to follow more than one HIG at once. This is not a choice that can realistically be passed off onto the user, it affects the whole design and development of the app.

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The point with headerbars and such is to follow the GNOME HIG and make it standard and consistent in regards to GNOME.

Yes, I understand. Meld isn’t an X11 app, it’s a GNOME app. It’s not supposed to work with anything other than the GNOME desktop. It used to be that an X11 app would follow the window manager interface spec and work with any window manager or desktop. Those good old days are gone.

This is not a choice that can realistically be passed off onto the user, it affects the whole design and development of the app.

Other apps do it — though I don’t know how much extra work was involved.

I am not sure what you mean here, the app continues to work. Disabling decorations is a valid thing for any X11 app to do. I assume by “window manager interface spec” you mean the EMWH spec. That spec is very old and has not been updated in several years. It never said anything about what header bars are supposed to look like. Setting those hints is entirely optional for any client, and optional for any window manager to use when considering decorations or not. The decorations hint is also not even in there. It is part of the Motif WM hints which IIRC were not specified anywhere, and many window managers do not implement them. And of course none of this applies when targeting Wayland which is the current focus. So I would be surprised if many newer apps targeted any of those hints on purpose.

For me, I personally cannot recall a time when I could count on random X11 clients and window managers to ever follow specs consistently. The whole purpose of X11 seems to be that they can just do whatever, that’s why these behaviors are “hints” after all.

I’m just a user, seeing it from a purely non-doctrine perspective.
Meld is a brilliant tool, however for me as Windows user the new version using the GTK window decoration sticks out like a sore thumb.
Would it not be possible to provide a version for Windows that uses native Windows look-and-feel with regard to the window decoration? I assume there are good reasons for changing the look, but please do reconsider.

Hello, you may be a few releases behind on Windows apps. Having a wide GTK-style header bar is native Windows look-and-feel on Windows 11. See e.g. the developer guide on title bars: Windows app title bar - Windows apps | Microsoft Learn

I appreciate where you’re coming from, but this is mostly a matter of resources. If people want to step up to help out with Windows then great, but in the end the priority has to be maintainability.

As it stands, Meld is maintained by one person with increasingly unreliable spare time, and my focus is making a good application for Gnome.

Fair enough, particularly considering the lack of resources.

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