Finding a new home (DE issues)

The TL;DR is I need a new DE. I’d prefer light but it must be multi XScreen capable. This means nothing GTK. It also has to be able to do dark UI - completely.

The long version is GTK ignores XScreen enumeration since GTK 3 which makes anything GTK based broken by design. This removes most DE’s from usability.

Current KDE would actually work (despite being bloated) if there wasn’t for one massively idiotic behavior where maximizing windows snap/move them to the primary screen of the XScreen. So if you have 3 or 4 monitors assigned to an XScreen you only have ONE monitor that you can use with fullscreen or maximized windows. I can find no option to disable this idiotic behavior and nothing online or on the actual KDE forums. If you know how to disable this behavior by all means let me know.

I have found no other DE or array of “things” that work. I have been playing with ctwm as it works for window management but various other tidbits of behavior and control are still up in the air.

evilwm actually looks right up my alley but be damned it I can get it to work at all. It complains about needing a font on launch but the font arg doesn’t seem to do anything…and yes I’ve ensured the font packages are installed as per others reported this issue on the arch forums but the missing font packages noted in the bug report are installed and yet it still dies with nothing but the can’t font won’t font error about the -fn option. Sadly it works fine in a Debian VM (I don’t run Debian).

As a quick run down of what I’ve tried which will have all the classic GTK based DE’s but this was before I knew the issue was GTK). flux/black/openbox, KDE, LX/QtDE, Gnome, XFCE, icewm, MATE, ctwm, evilwm.

Assuming you run a mainstream Linux OS, it’s safe to say you run systemd. That might actually be your problem. Try a different init system, like Sys V or OpenRC and see what happens with your DE choice.

Devuan offers both SysV and OpenRC as init systems, as is Funtoo. Devuan is based on Debian, Funtoo is the bleeding-edge (of sorts) of Gentoo.


I was looking at Artix to ditch systemd a while back but systemd has nothing to do with the issue, the issue is GTK has broken XScreen enumeration, which I noted in the original post.

Seems like you’ve tried more DE than any and have a very specific requirement. The path left for you is to take is KDE and fix (or have someone fix) the idiotic behaviour. This means contacting the KDE team and tell them the problem in a nice way. TIme to poke Mr Nate Graham with a stick?

Kinda what I was scared of as I’ve always kinda hated KDE hah. I did post on the KDE forums though. I was hoping someone would have some under the hood tweak to disable such a moronic feature. Hey I have 12 screens but only ONE for maximized windows…ug. Ironically I just finally (after butchering a VM) seem to have got evilwm working so tomorrow I’ll poke around with that and see if it’s viable.

A trend I’ve noticed is the older more obscure DE/WM are about the only things that work anymore…though I have been pulling an iso of elementary to test all day. It’s been forever since I tested elementary. However it seems like all the modern DE/WM have broken various xorg features in what I can only speculate as a shift to Wayland, which is death for multi GPU systems.

Just curious, have you reached out to GTK devs about your XScreen grievances? A lot of people tend to just complain about things without taking it one step further and actually, you know, let developers know there is a multi monitor problem with Gnome/XFCE/LXDE/Cinnamon etc.

To be honest, I think getting hold of a Gnome dev and asking whether they can help here would go a long way to help everyone get an awesome Linux Desktop experience.

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I have, they don’t care. I had been reporting this issue for years as every update xfce was more and more broken and no one seemed to know why. Eventually one of the devs noted something in the GTK source. Basically a comment where the old XScreen enumeration was commented out and the comment about the comment said since GTK 3 XScreens will always be 1. Then below the enumeration code they just had the variable hard coded.

Gnome is now “Apple like” in that they have a direction and that’s the end of it, take it or leave it. With a MASSIVE, dare I say majority of software pulling from GTK that’s a problem. However most people will not notice these problems. Only people who segregate monitors with XScreens or people like me that run multi GPU are affected. Even a large portion of multi GPU users won’t notice because they either only use a single GPU for video and the rest are slaves for CUDA/AI/ML work or passthrough.

I’m hoping with some more testing I can get ctwm or evilwm functional as both do work correctly across all GPU’s. Barring that I might have to take a look at stuff like Window maker or i3, etc. See how tomorrow goes and play around with elementary and see if the compositor handles things correctly.

Actually, this is not just you - every single freakin’ iGPU / Discrete GPU combo (like, for instance, many laptops) should suffer from the same problem to some degree. I think the impact is masked because:

a) Most laptops are never hooked up to multiple screens, or are so very rarely
b) Even IF they are hooked up, Nvidia drivers are horrible hackjobs that refuse to support esoteric use cases in many cases, and most laptops run Nvidia discrete GPUs.

Perhaps it is time to fork GTK 4 and make it usable again? :man_shrugging:

[edit]Not to mention that XScreen will go away with X, but I assume wayland does nothing to help either.[/edit]

Trust me I know about the dual GPU mobile issues but no one runs both GPU at the same time thus they never notice the issue. Though I will admit a degree of ignorance with some of the “hybrid” modes available where some odd trickery with a separate X Session are used to run off both but the separate session also negates. I’ve often thought about XPRA trickery over localhost and other things to negate my issues but that’s like tying a weight to your a$5 and expecting to run top speed. Just adding latency and lag for nothing.

The fork idea is great until you realize how much time and experience you need to maintain. I thought about how hard it would be to just switch the commented code and built GTK each release but it’s a never ending fight and even if I did that it may still be broken by other things down the line that make assumptions about the hardcoded XScreen count or perhaps it’s never queried down the line to matter if you “put it back” to how it was.

I’d rather find some some tweak for KDE or some obscure little thing and go the roll my own path. Problem is a lot of the obscure things are still GTK based heh. One thing I found sad but interesting was the last LXQT install I tested it was using kwin which is THE problem with KDE, renders correctly on all GPU, but then kills the point of it all with that idiotic maximize issue.

That said there isn’t a lot of choice. GTK, QT, EL… which is kinda in that order for how many things use the libraries as in GTK is a land slide, QT is growing because many are fed up because GTK is bloated and its disastrous choices, Elementary is kinda the forgotten one. I can’t remember which but I heard some DE (a decent one) was transitioning to El but who knows how long that will take and I don’t remember which.

And yet, this would be the easiest way to debug the issue - just run both. Except you do need an AMD/AMD combo to root out the evils.

Maybe we can get Valve to look at this?

Lol try :wink:

I feel like the last few years have been an array of bad growing pains, things might settle but for now it’s just a mess.

Found some interesting things. Under ctwm DISPLAY is denoted like in a pure gnome environment so DISPLAY=:1.0 DISPLAY=:1.1 DISPLAY=:1.2 but under evilwm it’s normal but then libnotify which works under ctwm won’t work under evilwm heh.

As a quick update it seems like minus some positioning stuff evilwm is the ticket!

Seems like you tried pretty much all DE’s already.

Not all but honestly it’s kinda become hard to find a list anymore. I’ve found a few then you got try them and most are dead since the 90’s hah. However that is kinda the point of the post, find someone who knows of something not on the list with that magical 80/90/00 power of actually working. Sadly though that GTK permeation has killed them all.

That said this has become more of a WM hunt since it looks like I’ll have to piece meal my own DE. So far evilwm seems the best fit but since you can’t use wmctrl with it I’m left with yet another pickle. Though part of me wonders if I should go back to KDE and see about overriding the idiotic kwin maximize with a script function.

I stopped caring about what ui toolkit my desktop is using a long time ago so what I can tell you is that I use Pop OS shell in tiling mode which is based on GTK and things basically just works™. I go to settings → display where I can adjust screen arrangement and positioning. It literally just works. My only “adventure” is using Wayland which makes my interface smooth as butter. Its a joy to use.

Having said that, I had to untick HiDPI because it does a poor job of setting stuff automatically and made a mess of screen orientation and enumeration so maybe that’s the same problem you are experiencing? IDK.

This isn’t about caring about the toolkit, this is about the fact the toolkit is broken by design for my hardware setup since GTK3. I’m running a held XFCE4.12 which is still partially broken and cobbled together.

I fear this has reach the point where no one reads and just chimes in with useless debate about how if you strap a rocket to a tricycle it will win the election and be fine raising 3 cows so they can produce moon rocks…

GTK is broken by design for Multi-XScreen/GPU - THE END -

Suggest a non-GTK DE/WM that functions correct with xorg or don’t say anything.

It doesn’t look like anyone but you is trying to debate anything. Your posts are full of inflammatory comments like “Gnome is now Apple like in that they have a direction and that’s the end of it”. Maybe you just want affirmation instead of practical and technical help? In any case I’m out of this thread.

I was going to ask just out of curiosity why would you think Valve would do anything when the SteamDeck for example runs KDE?

Like your first post you didn’t seem to read things. I was hoping someone would know of something still functional I hadn’t uncovered or long forgot about. Instead I get “GTK works for me” comments or similar that aren’t suggestions for things to look at but rather actions that negate the point of the post. Post has several comments, not a single suggestion.

Well, doing some quick digging this looks more like a problem with Wayland / XOrg transition than anything else (e.g. KDE will have the same problem). I assume you have not yet made the switch to Wayland, which… Well, has it’s own problems but is getting better every week.

I will never switch to Wayland *(caveat below) as it’s designed to break multiGPU set ups. Wayland dumps the work on the primary GPU and slaves any other GPU into worthless frame buffer “outputs.” 4 Titans with Wayland is 1 Titan and a few $1000 dollars of waste & PSU strain for nothing. Wayland will be fine for the average system but it’s a massive regression for others. I suspect the Wayland “future” is why they broke GTK by design.

I’ve moved to ctwm. Everything works on all GPU’s. Just some fun times modernizing things and writing some window controls but no complaints. I actually prefer it over XFCE and I’ve made the switch on all my single GPU systems because the workflow is a lot nicer.

*Wayland might be doable IF anyone makes a GPU with enough power and outputs (and not BS like Quadro’s) to go back to single GPU. I run a lot of screens (11 total) and it’s stupid to buy something like the Quadros (which you still need more than 1) for over $3000 a piece when you can get a few $300 GPU for a better end design at a sane cost. The price issue is even more valid now that my “meh” GPU’s that used to be $250-$350 are selling for $800-$1200.

The other caveat would be if I had 1 decent/good GPU and the rest were some crappy $30 IGP level crap. Then you wouldn’t lose much with Wayland ignoring the processing power of the “weak” GPU’s…but it does add strain to a GPU not designed to render/calculate as much as Wayland will then dump on it making it do all the processing and rendering for the outputs on the other cards…it’s really a terrible design.

I also played with the new xrandr providers (Not sure I said all this, it’s been a while.) While you can get it working it runs like Xinerama but worse. GPU’s idle at 50% load, everything stutters and chokes. Again the lack of GPU separation just decimates any usability unless you have matched cards…even then it probably still sucks.