leave message uses an ugly and confusing dialog

Bug #333269 reported by Alan Pope 🍺🐧🐱 🦄 on 2009-02-23
This bug affects 12 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
gnome-screensaver (Ubuntu)
Jan Arne Petersen

Bug Description

On Jaunty with notify-osd installed, if I click "leave message" two abnormal things (which are related) happen:-

1) I am briefly shown my own desktop, which should not happen when the screensaver is locked.
2) I get a popup notify box displaying the message.

See attached screenshot and screencast. Note: The screencast is quite slow, in real life the whole process is faster than shown.

ProblemType: Bug
Architecture: i386
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 9.04
Package: gnome-screensaver 2.24.0-0ubuntu4
 PATH=(custom, user)
SourcePackage: gnome-screensaver
Uname: Linux 2.6.28-8-generic i686


Jorge Castro (jorge) on 2009-02-23
Changed in gnome-screensaver:
status: New → Confirmed
Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

I think there are 2 separate bugs here. The first bug being the dialog, and the second one being that windows appearing underneath the screensaver seem to be able to briefly steal focus, which seems similar to http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=567306.

Mirco Müller (macslow) wrote :

I'm not sure this particular case should use a notification. Notifications can be missed and the message someone leaves for a user on their session should be guaranteed to by read.

David Barth (dbarth) wrote :

Yes, there are 2 separate bugs.

1. Is a window manager and or screensaver bug. I was not able to reproduce that with metacity-1:2.25.144-0ubuntu1 (compositing on/off). However, I have been able to (partly) reproduce that with compiz-1:0.7.9+git20090211-0ubuntu4. Partly in that the "peak" was limited to the gnome-panel, but the rest of the desktop was not displayed. I would suggest keeping that as a gnome-screensaver bug, and optionally filing a bug against compiz.

2. You get a dialog box because gnome-screensaver wants the notification to be seen and specifies an infinite timeout probably. In this case, I think we adopt the right behaviour in turning that into a dialog box. This way you can actually see the message when you get back to your session. You may want to improve the design of the message box, but then it's up to the application to render it better, by managing it's own dialog box, instead of relying on some bad fallback mechanism provided by the current version of notify-osd. To summarize, this is /also/ a gnome-screensaver bug.

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

Is Tomboy on the default install? Seeing as the message functionality is just like leaving a note at someone's desk, I wonder if it would be acceptable to pop up a notification saying something like "Someone left you a note whilst you were away", and then put the note in to the users Tomboy notes, using its nice DBus interface.

David Barth (dbarth) wrote :

Alan, could you file a new bug against gnome-screensaver for the window manager interaction issue?

Once done, I will rework this one to make it read "gnome-screensaver should provide a better message dialog"



Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

Alan could you remember to link the upstream bug report in the new one too (http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=567306)

Done. Filed bug 334441.

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

Thanks Alan

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

FWIW, I started writing a patch for gnome-screensaver which adds messages as a note in Tomboy (if it exists), and then displays it on the screen. The problem I see with the existing implementation is that you have to act on the notification straight away really, as there is no way of putting it to one side to come back to later.

With the Tomboy method, you can close the note if you don't want to act on it straight away, and come back to it later (even in another session) as the note is saved.

I don't know if that's an acceptable solution or not though (and if it is, it's probably too late for Jaunty).

Comments welcome :)

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

I have a working patch that makes gnome-screensaver display (and save) a Tomboy note instead of sending a notification. The patch is maintained in bzr.

I'd appreciate knowing whether people think that is a better solution than just sending a notification or popping up some dialog.

It is very much a work-in-progress at the moment though, and has a few rough edges. For example, it will fall back to notifications if Tomboy isn't running, even though Tomboy ships a DBus service (it should just start Tomboy). It currently sets the title of the note to the data and time that the note was left, but I don't know if that is the correct thing to do. If any of the DBus calls to Tomboy fail, the note gets silently lost and doesn't fall back to using notifications yet. And I was going to use a gconf key to set whether to use notifications or Tomboy.

Martin Pitt (pitti) wrote :

I don't think we can/should rely on having tomboy available for those. IMHO, displaying a simple dialog box is "good enough" for this purpose, if we don't find a better solution.

Speaking about a better solution: if only we had a messaging indicator... :-)

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :


The patch I've done doesn't rely on having Tomboy around - it uses it if it is available (which is the case on the default Ubuntu install).

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

Actually, my last post doesn't make sense - of course my patch relies on having Tomboy around, but it will fall back the notification if it isn't around. That is what I meant to say ;-)

On Mon, 2009-03-09 at 08:35 +0000, Martin Pitt wrote:
> Speaking about a better solution: if only we had a messaging
> indicator... :-)

Wow, I hadn't thought of that actually :)

So what if we patched gnome-screensaver to have an indicator, and then
if you click on it you could show the window in that case. I don't
think that'd be difficult, but I'm curious what people think about it.

Changed in gnome-screensaver:
assignee: nobody → canonical-dx-team
importance: Undecided → Low

I was about to file a very similar bug. I made a quick mockup showing a couple improvements:

-The window title and text are more informative, now you see exactly what happened.
-The message itself is bold, to stand out.
-There is only one button, close. Having two buttons that did the same thing only confused the user.

I think that should be more than enough. A simple dialogue on your desktop when you come back. Anything beyond that would be over the top, in my opinion.

Julian Lam (julian-lam) wrote :

Still exists in Jaunty Beta. Using notify-osd might mean missed messages (as they are non-interactive, and might disappear before being read). However, what if expire_timeout were set to 0?

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

Julian - that is exactly the current problem (expire_timeout is set to 0). notify-osd displays these as fallback notifications

Julian Lam (julian-lam) wrote :

Chris - My bad, I didn't realize that that was how notify-osd alerts worked.

If that's the case, then there's no way we can have messages appearing under notify-osd, unless the fallback alerts are beautified significantly, since at current, they're quite uninspiring...

Either that, or use notify-daemon in conjunction with notify-osd...

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

I've updated the Notify OSD spec to include a mockup of presenting "Leave a Message" messages in a single "While You Were Out" dialog with a scrollable text view. <https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NotifyOSD?action=diff&rev2=128&rev1=127> I suggest that gnome-screensaver should adopt this design regardless of which notification server is running, because it would handle the case of multiple messages better than notification-daemon does.

description: updated
summary: - [jaunty] leave message does not use new notify system
+ leave message does not use new notify system

Alternatively, this suggestion seems to have gotten favourable reviews from other brainstormers.


It involves integrating gnome-screensaver into a helper application, and using notify-osd to display an alert that a message has been left.

Changed the title to reflect the real issue : nobody seems to like the dialog and, most of all, it's confusing : nobody woull ever understand that it was a message from a coworker. Just type the following message : "System crash : reboot needed immediatly" and I'm sure that most users will reboot.

I also confirm this as a papercut, it makes sense to me.

summary: - leave message does not use new notify system
+ leave message uses an ugly and confusing dialog
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Confirmed
Julian Lam (julian-lam) wrote :

Great, now that this still exists in Karmic, let's get it through for Lucid, shall we?

As stated above, it does seem like a gnome-screensaver regression (since pre-Jaunty, it used notification-daemon), so a patch to gnome-screensaver would be easy to implement (if I knew how, I'd do it).

indicator-applet is on by default, why don't we just use that to link to the tomboy notes app (as mentioned previously)? Notify-osd can be invoked to notify the user that a message has been left, and indicator-applet can keep the notification persistent if the user misses the notify-osd popup.

Max Bowsher (maxb) wrote :


I don't think this functionality should assume that people have Tomboy installed. I don't.

Jorge Castro (jorge) on 2010-03-11
Changed in gnome-screensaver (Ubuntu):
assignee: Registry Administrators (registry) → Jan Arne Petersen (jpetersen)
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Jan, could you look on how doable it would be to do what mpt suggested in comment #21?

Jan Arne Petersen (jpetersen) wrote :

It is doable, it is about 2-3 days work.

Changed in gnome-screensaver (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → In Progress
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

ok, that's a nice to fix one but please consider it lower priority than bug fixes when you get some of those on your todolist

Vish (vish) wrote :

Unlinking Chris Coulson's branch, as we dont seem to interested in using the tomboy method.

I attempted to reproduce the bug and was unable to observe the flash of the desktop describe in the original report.

That leaves the dialogue box. Are we attempting to find a more elegant way of displaying the message, or is there something I've missed about the issue of the dialogue box?

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
importance: Undecided → Low
Max Bowsher (maxb) wrote :

I believe that what we should do under the remit of *this* bug is to fix the content of the dialog box, and nothing more.

By "fix" I mean:

1) It has both an OK and a Cancel button which both just dismiss the dialog.

2) The content of the dialog is just "[Time] [User Message]" - if a user has not seen one of these before, they are likely to be mystified about its source unless the person leaving the message was particularly clear in how they phrased it. I think the box should say "At [Time], someone left you a message via your screensaver program: [User Message]" or similar.

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

This feature has been removed entirely from gnome-screensaver upstream, so people shouldn't bother spending any effort on fixing it, as it will be wasted once we update gnome-screensaver to a new version (next cycle).

I'll happily sponsor a patch backporting the upstream commits to remove this feature though.

Since this won't be a part of the upcoming default installation, I am closing the paper cut task.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: Confirmed → Invalid
Adolfo Jayme (fitojb) on 2013-06-28
Changed in gnome-screensaver (Ubuntu):
status: In Progress → Won't Fix
To post a comment you must log in.
This report contains Public information  Edit
Everyone can see this information.

Duplicates of this bug

Other bug subscribers

Remote bug watches

Bug watches keep track of this bug in other bug trackers.