Bug#826374: mate-desktop: Provide an alternative GTK2 build of MATE

John Paul Adrian Glaubitz glaubitz at physik.fu-berlin.de
Sun Jun 5 08:28:30 UTC 2016

On 06/05/2016 04:20 AM, Tom Maneiro wrote:
> Recently MATE 1.14 landed on Testing, which brought to the table a change of
> massive importance: the switch to GTK3 from GTK2. While this was a expected
> change, clearly outlined at upstream's roadmap (it's basically their only
> choice if they want to support Wayland), for some users dealing with constant
> (and INTENTIONAL) breakages at GTK3 upstream (themes being the #1 offender,

I'm sorry, but this is FUD. Those changes were not about annoying users and
developers but they happened because the design wasn't complete yet. The
GNOME developers emphasized that several times. You cannot blame them if
third party developers start using internal or unfinished APIs.

Moreover, they have actually finished the design recently and it's now
considered stable, see [1].

> among other things) it's an undesired and uncomfortable change for such users
> (including myself). For now I don't really care about Wayland support (not that
> I don't want it, but right now it isn't a priority for my specific needs).
> Dealing with such upstream issues at GTK3 is annoying to the point of making
> MATE unusable for some of us!

"for me", "for some of us", "I don't care about Wayland support". Do you see
a pattern here? I mean, I don't think I need to explain more why those are
actually very bad arguments.

Linux desperately needs Wayland to replace X11 because the latter is an absolute
mess [2] and a security nightmare. They are still finding and fixing X.Org
security issues all the time and the fact that the X server runs as root
is a huge problem.

> Fortunately MATE doesn't intend to drop GTK2 support yet, and 1.14 can still be
> built against GTK2. Checking other distros, there are PPAs for Ubuntu (albeit
> aimed at older LTS releases), but obviously we need a Debian-specific
> alternative. What I suggest is having both flavors of MATE (GTK2 and GTK3)
> available, at least for a while. Obviously you can't have both installed at the
> same time, so you can choose between GTK versions and the packages will take
> care of the rest.

You know that this basically doubles the amount of work that the maintainers
have, don't you? I think you underestimate the effort required to fulfill
your request. Making both MATE GTK2 and GTK3 builds would mean the MATE
maintainers would have to maintain approximately 100 packages instead
of just 51 as of now [3]. Do you really expect the maintainers to take
this additional load of work just because some users are feeling they
don't want to use a GTK3-based version of MATE?

This isn't even taken then security implications into considerations
into account which arise when having to deal with effectively a
second desktop which builds on top of an outdated and soon to be
deprecated version of GTK.

Like with Qt3, we can be quite confident that Debian is going to
drop support for GTK2 at some point simply because having a set
of libraries which are used by so many other packages in the
distribution without active maintenance and thus security support
is not acceptable in Debian.

> Really, I love MATE to the point of it being my DE of choice for Linux, and I'm
> using it across all of my desktop Debian installs, but the switch to GTK3 have
> made me reconsider my choice of desktop, as I'm tired of dealing with the
> obvious disconnect among GTK3 developers with its real-world users.

Sorry, but we cannot take request of individual users into consideration and
as I have explained above, there are actual reasons why this particular
decision was made, the primary concern being security. We are not
going to rollback any decisions which improve security in the long

If you feel uncomfortable with the changes, you are free to stay on
Jessie which is going to be supported until 2020 or switch to any
other distribution of your choice. I am pretty sure that most
distributions will drop GTK2 support at some point, so you will not
have much choice, I'm afraid.

Alternatively, you can try building MATE based on GTK2 yourself,
or, use a source-based distribution like Gentoo which will allow
you to build MATE with GTK2 support without much effort.


> [1] https://blogs.gnome.org/mclasen/2015/11/20/a-gtk-update/
> [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIctzAQOe44
> [3] https://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=pkg-mate-team@lists.alioth.debian.org
> [4] https://wiki.debian.org/LTS/

 .''`.  John Paul Adrian Glaubitz
: :' :  Debian Developer - glaubitz at debian.org
`. `'   Freie Universitaet Berlin - glaubitz at physik.fu-berlin.de
  `-    GPG: 62FF 8A75 84E0 2956 9546  0006 7426 3B37 F5B5 F913

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