Metacity running on GNOME
Developer(s) The GNOME Project
Initial release 2.4.2 5 October 2002 (2002-10)
Stable release 3.22.0 (September 21, 2016 (2016-09-21)) [±]
Written in C
Operating system Linux, Solaris, BSD, other Unix-like
Platform GNOME
Type X window manager
License GNU General Public License

Metacity /məˈtæsɪti/[1] was the default window manager used by the GNOME 2 desktop environment[2] until it was replaced by Mutter in GNOME 3.[3] It is still used by GNOME Flashback, a session for GNOME 3 that provides a similar user experience to the Gnome 2.x series sessions.

A fork, Marco, is still being actively developed and maintained as part of the MATE desktop environment, itself a fork of GNOME 2 as a whole.

The development of Metacity was started by Havoc Pennington and it was released under the GNU General Public License. Before the introduction of Metacity in GNOME 2.2, GNOME used Enlightenment and then Sawfish as its window manager. Although Metacity was designed to integrate into the GNOME desktop, it does not require it to run, while GNOME can be used with different window managers provided that they support the part of the ICCCM specification that GNOME requires.

Metacity uses the GTK+ graphical widget toolkit to create its user interface components, which makes it themeable and makes it blend in with other GTK+ applications. Originally, Metacity used GTK+ 2 however as of version 3.12.0 it has been ported to GTK+ 3.[4]


Metacity's focus is on simplicity and usability rather than novelties. Its author has characterized it as a "Boring window manager for the adult in you. Many window managers are like Marshmallow Froot Loops; Metacity is like Cheerios."[5] People in favour of Metacity say that it is aimed at new computer users who do not need the abundant options and functionality of Sawfish or Enlightenment.[6] Havoc Pennington wrote an essay explaining why he wrote Metacity and simplified the GNOME desktop.[7] Devil's Pie and Brightside are among the packages that enable increased control over windows, however these applications cannot override Metacity's key bindings.


Despite the incomplete state of Metacity theme development documentation, many themes have been written for Metacity. A huge number of such themes can be downloaded from GNOME's art site, A popular theme engine is Clearlooks, which has been GNOME's default since version 2.12.[8]

See also


  1. "Metacity README". Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  2. "GNOME 2.2 Gains Muscle and Polish". Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  3. Koen Vervloesem (2009-08-04). "Mutter: a window manager for GNOME 3".
  4. "". Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  5. "README of Metacity". Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  6. "Innovations in window management". Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  7. "Free software and good user interfaces". Retrieved 2006-10-17.
  8. "GNOME Art – window borders". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2006-10-17.
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