Current state of Window Decorations

Pekka Paalanen ppaalanen at
Thu Jun 25 08:25:11 UTC 2020

On Thu, 25 Jun 2020 11:57:42 +1000
Brad Robinson <brobinson at> wrote:

> Hey All,
> What's the current state and/or plans for window decorations with Wayland?
> I just stumbled on this post
> <>,
> and after reading the comments I've got to say I'm quite shocked that
> getting a window to appear on screen with title bars and decorations that
> match the rest of the OS appears to be a non-trivial task.
> Am I missing something? Have things changed since that post was written?


I don't think you're missing much.

Without specific Wayland extensions saying otherwise, clients either
decorate themselves or live without decorations. I believe the state of
the art is:

I wouldn't say that the fact that Wayland extensions exist for
server-side decorations means that a Wayland client would be right to
not implement client-side decorations. Any compositor likely does not
implement all the extensions ever defined or even in wayland-protocols
repository, so clients should have fallbacks. However, it is up to you
as a developer to decide which fallbacks you implement and which you do
not. Obviously that will affect your user experience on compositors
where the fallback would be necessary but you didn't implement it.

Unfortunately we don't have the wayland-protocols adoption website up
yet, where you could see which compositors and toolkits support which
extensions. Weston does not support the extension, but I would assume
some other compositors do.

There are good justifications for both client-side and server-side
decorations. Which one is better depends on your goals and policies,
and what you value more, which is why the question raises so much heat
that few people like to talk about it much as it nearly always
escalates to a flame war when more people join the discussion.

For example, for some, "match the rest of the OS" is a non-goal, and
making the app itself look consistent is a goal. For others, it's the
opposite. Will the application always look and feel the same no matter
in what environment you run it in, or should it change itself according
to the environment. How do you make the user feel at home? There is a
lot more to it than just decorations.

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