by PCMan

PCMan / gtk3-nocsd

A hack to disable gtk+ 3 client side decoration

224 Stars 29 Forks Last release: over 4 years ago (v3) GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1 55 Commits 3 Releases

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gtk3-nocsd is a small module used to disable the client side decoration of Gtk+ 3.


Since Gtk+ 3.10, its developers added a so-called header bar or custom title bar. With this and the client-side decoration, the original title bar and window border provided by the window manager are disabled by Gtk+. This makes all Gtk+ 3 programs look alike. Even worse, this may break some window manager or compositors.

Unfortunately, the Gtk+ developers decided to be against the existing standards and provide "no option" to turn it off.

Luckily, with gtk3-nocsd, we still have a way to (partially) turn it off. Window manager (title bar and window border) can be re-enabled.


This is how the gtk3 windows look like before and after using


Screenshot of gedit with CSDs still enabled

Screenshot of gedit with CSDs disabled by gtk3-nocsd

How to use:

  • gtk3-nocsd should work with all Gtk+ 3 versions.

  • Install necessary packages:

    • On Debian-based systems (including Ubuntu and Mint), install
    • On Fedora-based distros (including RHEL, CentOS), install
  • Build the code. Run

    from command line. After this you'll have the files
    in the same directory.
  • Now to run individual Gtk+ 3 apps (say gedit) using this hack, use the command

    ./gtk3-nocsd gedit
    from the same directory.
  • To have all Gtk+ 3 apps (of current user) use this hack, export some environment variables in your

    export GTK_CSD=0
    export LD_PRELOAD=
  • On Arch Linux, you should use

    instead of
    for the CSDs to be disabled properly.
  • On Debian-based systems with graphical login, instead modify (or create)

    and add the following code:
    if [ -n "$STARTUP" ]; then
      if [ "$BASESTARTUP" = x-session-manager ]; then
        BASESTARTUP=$(basename $(readlink /etc/alternatives/x-session-manager))
      if [ x"$BASESTARTUP" = x"${BASESTARTUP#gnome-session}" ] ; then
        export GTK_CSD=0
        STARTUP="env LD_PRELOAD=/path/to/ $STARTUP"

gtk3-nocsd is now packaged for Debian though (see below), so manual installation may not be necessary.

  • Re-login to make the environment variables take effect.

  • Hooray! GTK+ 3 client-side decorations are disabled now.

Distribution packages:

gtk3-nocsd is packaged in Debian's unstable and testing distributions, see gtk3-nocsd in Debian's package database. The Debian package already comes with integration code to automatically disable CSDs when installed, so after package installation only a re-login is required to have CSDs disabled on non-GNOME desktops.

There is also a gtk3-nocsd-git package for Arch Linux.

How it works:

is used to override several Gdk and glib/gobject APIs to intercept related calls Gtk+ 3 uses to setup CSDs. For older versions of Gtk+ 3, while it is trying to initialize CSDs, it is led to believe that there is no compositor available, so CSDs are not added. For later Gtk+ 3 versions (3.16.1+), the
method is reimplemented, as tricking Gtk+ 3 into thinking the compositor is disabled has side effects and is not sufficent anymore.

Additionally, as gtkwindowsettitlebar is also called from Gtk+ internally (and LDPRELOAD cannot override function calls within a library), several other places in Gtk+3 (e.g. buildable interfaces for GtkWindow and GtkDialog) are also overridden to ensure that CSDs are disabled.

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