Change Metacity button location in Ubuntu

I’m not a Gnome user. But personally, I’ve had just enough whining about the location of the minimize, maximize and close buttons in Lucid. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother trying to help out Gnome users because Gnome itself is deliberately hamstrung and at the same time grotesquely overweight, but this is something so simple and so straightforward as to make all the whining rather painful.

Open your terminal. Type gconf-editor and press return. Result:

Skim down to apps > metacity > general. On the right you should see a key entitled, “button_layout”. Right-click and pick “Edit Key…”

Change the contents of the Value box to :maximize,minimize,close. In essence, you’re moving one single character, a colon from the end to the beginning.

Press OK and your buttons should immediately bounce back to the right.

The settings are stored in the .gconf folder in your home directory, so you can hand-edit them too if you want.

Now can we stop the whining and go back to the important stuff, like saving the world from evil software monopolies and rampant materialism? :evil:

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9 Responses to “Change Metacity button location in Ubuntu”


  1. 1 primo 2010/03/13 at 11:31 AM

    The problem is the fact that this was changed in the first place.

    Not only does it make no sense to change it, but it also completely destroy compatibility with other themes.

    I will be quite surprised if they do not change it back in the final release.

  2. 2 William 2010/03/13 at 12:36 PM

    Total agreement. This is linux people, learn to customize your machine and make it your own.

  3. 3 steve 2010/03/13 at 4:37 PM

    Exactly. Desktop environments are heading the way of the dinosaur. The GNOME and KDE teams are just making a complete mess of what they have created and alienating users in the process. I cannot for the life of me fathom why the developers of these DEs feel the need to modify their product and alienate those who have taken it onboard. I was a KDE 3.x fan but KDE4 is just rubbish. GNOME seems to be heading the same way. Thanks to the powers that be that I can run openbox + xfce4-panel to achieve everything I need.

    I agree totally with what William said. Take ownership of your computer and you will never have to deal with what these software developers regard as ‘advancement’ ever again. I for one got sick of dealing with what other devs thought I should have to cope with, but never again.

  4. 4 Stephen 2010/03/13 at 7:19 PM

    On top of that, wouldn’t it be easier to manage windows with a keyboard shortcut? It would save a lot of travel with the mouse cursor and a lot of time.

    • 5 Bjarke 2010/04/07 at 3:40 PM

      Yes !
      Instead of changing the line in gconf. Just delete it.
      And, voila, the buttons are gone.
      Then use keybindings to assign the tasks to buttons on your keyboard.
      It makes things a whole lot easier and we can start discussing changes that matters.

  5. 6 mulenmar 2010/03/14 at 5:23 PM

    The whole interface looks Mac-ified. And I’m not sure I like it.

    Well, I guess I’ll find out in April.

    Hope someone figures out a way to get the IEGD drivers up and running by then . . .


  1. 1 Change Metacity button location in Ubuntu | Ubuntu-News - Your one stop for news about Ubuntu Trackback on 2010/03/15 at 3:37 AM
  2. 2 Install Neverwinter Nights in Ubuntu « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/03/23 at 10:42 PM
  3. 3 Krank, for when Ubuntu’s novelty wears off « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/04/30 at 11:36 AM

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