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Bug 109246 - gnome-terminal cursor thinks that its owner has focus
gnome-terminal cursor thinks that its owner has focus
Product: gtk+
Classification: Platform
Component: .General
Other other
: Normal major
: Medium fix
Assigned To: gtk-bugs
GNOME Terminal Maintainers
: 158038 (view as bug list)
Depends on:
Reported: 2003-03-26 12:24 UTC by Bugtraq+/Bugzilla Gateway
Modified: 2005-05-05 00:14 UTC
See Also:
GNOME target: ---
GNOME version: ---

C program demonstrating a possible bug (3.58 KB, text/x-c)
2004-06-11 15:57 UTC, Billy Biggs
Candidate patch (5.24 KB, patch)
2005-05-04 21:05 UTC, Owen Taylor
none Details | Review
Theory behind the patch (4.90 KB, text/plain)
2005-05-04 23:55 UTC, Owen Taylor
Slightly improved version (6.71 KB, patch)
2005-05-05 00:07 UTC, Owen Taylor
none Details | Review

Description Bugtraq+/Bugzilla Gateway 2003-03-26 12:25:00 UTC
Package: gnome-terminal
Product: gnome-terminal
Synopsis: gnome-terminal cursor thinks that its owner has focus
Severity: grave
Priority: High
Bugzilla-Product: gnome-terminal
BugBuddy-GnomeVersion: 2.0

The gnome-terminal cursor looks different based on whether or not the
terminal has focus.  In my case, I have gnome-terminal configured with a
solid square cursor that blinks when the terminal has focus.  When the
terminal doesn't have focus the cursor is a hollow square that doesn't
blink.  The cursors very often get confused, and blink as if their terminals
have focus when they don't.  I haven't figured out exactly what triggers
the terminals to behave this way.

This is evidently not related to the fact that I've configured my cursors
to blink, as a fellow gnome user has mentioned that he has seen the same
problem for cursors that do not blink.

Coincidentally (or not), as I'm writing this bug report, two of my three
gnome-terminal cursors are blinking, and neither terminal has focus.

Bugtraq+: 4837677

------- Bug moved to this database by 2003-03-26 07:25 -------

Reassigning to the default owner of the component,

Comment 1 Owen Taylor 2003-04-21 17:00:50 UTC
If you upgrade to current versions of GTK+, this will be
a *lot* better, though despite my best efforts, it's
not 100% fixed.
Comment 2 Owen Taylor 2003-05-19 21:20:53 UTC
Putting on 2.2.3; though fixing the remaining problems
would require someone figuring out a reproduction sequence.
It happens to me so rarely with 2.2.1 (once  every few weeks)
that it's not really readily debuggable.
Comment 3 Billy Biggs 2004-06-11 15:57:04 UTC
I think this may be related to areas of the code where Gtk+ tries to compensate
for no window manager running.  gdkevents-x11.c has three variables to track
focus: has_focus, has_focus_window, and has_pointer_focus.  There seem to be
situations where has_pointer_focus can become true and never get reset, and when
this happens, focus events become unreliable. It has to do with
override_redirect windows, and the problem can hurt any Gtk+ application which
is under the override_redirect window.

I am attaching a C program that came from this Eclipse bug report relating to
this problem:

Basically, we were using XSetInputFocus and ended up confusing Gtk+ into
thinking there is no window manager present.  However, without using it one must
grab the pointer and keyboard before being able to give focus to an
override_redirect shell.

1. The program is a main window with an entry in it.
2. Press a key, an override redirect window appears, also containing an entry.
3. Press a key again, we attempt to give focus to the window.
4. Press a key again, the window is destroyed.

This program's behaviour is controlled by two constants at the top:
const int USE_GRAB = 0		   : Do not grab the pointer and mouse
const int USE_GRAB = 1		   : Grab the pointer and mouse
const int USE_XSETINPUTFOCUS = 0   : Use gtk_widget_grab_focus
const int USE_XSETINPUTFOCUS = 1   : Use XSetInputFocus

- I think this is a close approximation of Eclipse.  The window appears and is
given focus fine, however when it disappears, try moving your mouse in and out
of the window.	Gtk+ has entered its own 'focus-follows-mouse' mode,
compensating for what it believes is a lack of a Window Manager.  I believe
this causes all kinds of weirdness.
Comment 4 Billy Biggs 2004-06-11 15:57:48 UTC
Created attachment 28604 [details]
C program demonstrating a possible bug
Comment 5 Elijah Newren 2004-06-19 18:43:19 UTC
Mass changing gtk+ bugs with target milestone of 2.4.2 to target 2.4.4, as
Matthias said he was trying to do himself on IRC and was asking for help with. 
If you see this message, it means I was successful at fixing the borken-ness in
bugzilla :)  Sorry for the spam; just query on this message and delete all
emails you get with this message, since there will probably be a lot.
Comment 6 Owen Taylor 2004-11-12 15:23:17 UTC
*** Bug 158038 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 7 Matthias Clasen 2004-11-16 19:01:25 UTC
I'm not claiming that there are no bugs in the gdk focus handling code,

a) it should be too surprising that you can confuse gdk if you call
XSetInputFocus behind its back

b) not grabbing the mouse and keyboard while having an override redirect 
  mapped is inherently broken. Try Ctrl-Alt-Left in your app. It first brings
  up the override redirect, then metacity switches workspaces, and you get
  the effect of "sticky override-redirect". You can also just move the main
  window out from underneath the popup by clicking on its frame...
Comment 8 Billy Biggs 2004-11-16 19:32:04 UTC
I think what is happening is that a top-level window which has focus using
RevertToParent is being destroyed, giving focus to the root window, and
confusing GTK+.  I think that bug 158038 and the corresponding Mozilla bug may
give some more hints to other cases where this might occur.

I agree that calling XSetInputFocus behind GDK's back is a bad idea, and it
would be nice to get this cleaned up.  I think bug 143349 is holding us back.

Regarding the grab, a counterexample is tooltips, which do not require a grab. 
As well, most applications listen for focus events on their parent window and so
will disappear when you change workspaces from that.
Comment 9 Matthias Clasen 2004-11-16 21:15:03 UTC
I'm not sure that gtk is actually confused. I mean, the focus mode is actually
PointerRoot (at least metacity doesn't have a focused window at that point), and
clicking on the main window to give it focus brings things back to normal.

I agree that the ability to give focus to override redirect windows may be 

Tooltips can do without grabs, since they are basically operating in an
any-relevant event-kills-me mode. But it is not actually perfect. If you have
tooltips on a widget which doesn't select key events, you can switch workspaces
and take a "ghost tooltip" with you. You can try e.g. with the tooltips which
epiphany puts on its tabs.
Comment 10 Matthias Clasen 2004-11-16 21:22:52 UTC
Can't eclipse simply move the focus to where it wants it before unmapping the
override-redirect window ?
Comment 11 Matthias Clasen 2004-11-16 21:31:02 UTC
But I guess you are right that gtk is a bit confused. Or at least, it doesn not
agree with metacity about who has the focus.
Comment 12 Owen Taylor 2004-11-17 16:13:00 UTC
My general feeling on tooltip-like-windows that receive key events
(this includes drawers, etc) is that the X input focus needs to stay on 
the main decorated window, and key events should be redirected to the
Comment 13 Christian Reis (not reading bugmail) 2004-11-23 02:09:59 UTC
If this indeed is a dupe of bug 158038 it's a rather high-visibility bug brought
on by Firefox built by default with gtk2 on any window manager that's a bit
different (ion2, fluxbox, etc).
Comment 14 Billy Biggs 2004-11-23 02:15:58 UTC
We have got off track, but again, here is what I think is happening in both the
Eclipse and Mozilla case:

  Some X window (from any app) is:
    - a child of the root window
    - has input focus
    - is RevertToParent
    - is above a GTK+ managed window
    - has the mouse cursor in it
    - gets destroyed

This causes a sequence of events from X that GTK+ was not expecting, and it
messes up the state of the focus variables.
Comment 15 Matthias Clasen 2004-12-14 05:26:51 UTC
Should be possible to construct a testcase from your scenario, and prove that the 
problem occurs with different window managers.
Comment 16 Jody Belka 2005-02-16 14:38:25 UTC
Is any progress being made on this? It's a very annoying problem, as it makes
using firefox much more work than it should be.
Comment 17 Michael Leuchtenburg 2005-02-21 17:36:34 UTC
Is anyone working on this bug? Firefox (I am told by Gentoo folk) no longer
supports building with gtk1 support, which means that every user of these window
managers can no longer use it - or new versions of it, anyways.

This makes many Gtk2 apps about totally unusable for users of these window
managers. I think that "major" is low, severity-wise.
Comment 18 Jean Jordaan 2005-03-04 13:59:24 UTC
Regarding Ion and this issue, here's another couple of guys who've looked at this:
Comment 19 Eelis 2005-04-16 18:06:43 UTC
I agree with #17. This bug has been a major pain in the ass for presumably
thousands of users over the years, can't be worked around (Ion users are advised
to switch to another browser), has been analyzed reasonably thoroughly (both in
this thread and pages linked to from it), and is a disgrace for the GTK project
(GTK's reputation in the Ion community is.. terrible). I imagine things are no
different in the Sawfish community.

I can't help but feel that this is a typical example of how the open source
development model can fail: the bug does not seem to affect any of the
developers (they probably use other window managers), and therefore it doesn't
get fixed. Very sad indeed.
Comment 20 Owen Taylor 2005-04-16 20:10:01 UTC
Note that adding comments here is the *least* effective way of getting anything
done here. It just pisses off the GTK+ developers. (OK, mailing the GTK+
developers personally to whine is probably worse.) If you care about this bug:

 A) Come up with a stand-alone test case. Being able to reliably reproduce
    the bug, preferably without having to install a different window manager
    would make this bug a lot more feasible to work on.

Or even better:

 B) Come up with a patch
Comment 21 Eelis 2005-04-16 21:00:28 UTC
I'm not trying to piss anybody off. I'm trying to raise awareness of this issue
in the hopes that it will one day get the (developer) attention that I feel an
issue of this severity deserves.

If I could write a patch, I would. But as an end user with no knowledge of GTK/X
internals I simply can't (without spending large quantities of time
familiarizing myself with GTK/X programming/internals just for this issue).
Others are in a far better position to attempt a patch.

Regarding testcases and analysis, the comments at:

and the bug report at:

describe a reliable Ion testcase in extensive detail, and provide many
insightful clues as to the cause of the problem. 

A testcase for Sawfish is described at:

A testcase for ctwm is described at:

The author claims to be able to reproduce it for dropline gnome and metacity as

In addition, there's Billy Biggs' C program that's already attached to this
thread that demonstrates a bug that could be the cause.
Comment 22 Owen Taylor 2005-05-03 22:59:16 UTC
I'm pretty sure that multiple different issues are getting pushed together

 - Billy Bigg's test case seems quite likely to have been demonstrating
   an old bug in metacity where you could leave the system in PointerRoot

 - The ctwm bug report is likely a window manager problem with sending
   multiple WM_TAKE_FOCUS's with the same timestamp.

 - The ion bug report *might* be the same problem as the one this bug
   report is about, but the event traces are missing the information
   that would let me know what is going on.
Comment 23 Owen Taylor 2005-05-04 00:11:45 UTC
The ion case occurs because ion is focusing a parent of the toplevel
(the ion frame, it seems), and the event logic doesn't handle that.

Not clear how that translates to the more general rare problems.
Comment 24 Billy Biggs 2005-05-04 02:47:40 UTC
My test program fails on metacity 2.8.8 in the following way:

  1. Set USE_GRAB = 0, USE_XSETINPUTFOCUS = 1 and compile.
  2. Launch the application.  Click between the window and other windows on
     the desktop.  Note that focus_in and focus_out messages are printed to
  3. Hit a key in the entry.  An override_redirect window appears.
  4. Hit another key.  The override_redirect window gets focus.
  5. Ensure the pointer is above the text entry in the first window.
  6. Hit another key, the override_redirect window loses focus.
  7. Click between the original window and another window on the desktop.
     Notice that focus_in and focus_out events are not sent for the window.

When the override_redirect window disappears in step 6, a FocusIn event with a
detail of NotifyPointer is sent to the original window.  This sets
toplevel->has_pointer_focus to be TRUE.  However, no LeaveNotify is ever sent
when the pointer leaves the window, nor does any paired FocusOut occur to set
has_pointer_focus to FALSE.  In this state, GTK+ will never send focus events
for the toplevel window.
Comment 25 Owen Taylor 2005-05-04 19:50:46 UTC
Great, thanks for the details. That explains why the ion problem 
occurs with metacity, and thus how Eclipse is triggering the problem.

Switch RevertToParent to RevertToPointerRoot in your test case
and the bug will go away.

I also understand something else now ... how gnome-terminal sometimes
gets broken when no combination of maninipulations of gnome-terminal
will cause it to break. If any app on the screen does something like
what your test-case does, then you can end up temporarily with root
window focused, which breaks the next GTK+ window that gets focus...
there is no requirement that it be in the same app.

Comment 26 Owen Taylor 2005-05-04 19:57:04 UTC
Filed bug 303041 against Metacity saying that it should recover from
root window focused in the same way it recovers from PointerRoot
Comment 27 Owen Taylor 2005-05-04 21:05:22 UTC
Created attachment 46034 [details] [review]
Candidate patch

This attached patch fixes both the ion problem (testing with GTK+'s testtext
rather than firefox) and Billy's test case for me.

I'm still working on a writeup of *why* it works.
Comment 28 Jody Belka 2005-05-04 23:03:41 UTC
Can report that after spending an absolute eternity rebuilding the ubuntu hoary
gtk2 packages with this patch included in, i no longer have any problems with
the firefox/ion combination :-)  Owen++
Comment 29 Owen Taylor 2005-05-04 23:55:33 UTC
Created attachment 46040 [details]
Theory behind the patch
Comment 30 Owen Taylor 2005-05-05 00:07:57 UTC
Created attachment 46042 [details] [review]
Slightly improved version

Here's the version I'm actually going to apply ... it differs from
the previous one in the handling of events received when grabbing/ungrabbing
the pointer... while it would be hard to come with test cases, there 
were cases where the previous version could get confused, when for
instance, one keyboard grab was overriden with another keyboard grab.

This version corresponds to what's described in the writeup.
Comment 31 Owen Taylor 2005-05-05 00:14:24 UTC
Patch applied to gtk-2-6 and HEAD

2005-05-04  Owen Taylor  <>

        * gdk/x11/gdkevents-x11.c gdk/x11/gdkwindow-x11.h: Fix a bug
        in focus tracking when we move between has_pointer_focus and
        has_focus_window directly. (#109246, Billy Biggs, Niko Tyni
        and others)

        * gdk/x11/gdkevents-x11.c: Also fix some confusion
        that could happen in the case of no window manager + keyboard grabs,
        by moving to a more consistent model of when we pay attention
        to mode=NotifyGrab/NotifyUngrab events.

        * docs/focus_tracking.txt: Extensive writeup about how to track
        focus under X11.