Notification area whitelist is obsolete

Reported by Matthew Paul Thomas on 2012-04-05
This bug affects 59 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design
Andrea Azzarone
unity (Ubuntu)
Andrea Azzarone

Bug Description

Mark has asked us to consider retiring the notification area whitelist for 12.10. The application indicator system has been in place for two years now, which should be long enough for applications to adopt it.

If the whitelist was retired, Java and Wine would be hard-coded as the only software still able to use the menu bar as if it was a notification area, because their developers don't necessarily know that Ubuntu even exists.

Related branches

Merged into lp:unity at revision 3134
Marco Trevisan (Treviño): Approve on 2013-02-06
PS Jenkins bot: Pending (continuous-integration) requested 2013-02-06
John Lea (johnlea) on 2012-04-25
summary: - Notification area whitelist may be obsolete
+ Remove Notification area whitelist in 12.10
Changed in ayatana-design:
assignee: nobody → John Lea (johnlea)
importance: Undecided → High
assignee: John Lea (johnlea) → Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt)
status: New → Triaged
tags: added: udp
Changed in unity:
status: New → Triaged
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Triaged
Changed in unity:
milestone: none → backlog
John Lea (johnlea) on 2012-04-25
Changed in unity:
importance: Undecided → High
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → High

That seems like a bad idea, users are still complaining about broken softwares, including spotify from the bug triaging I did this week, not that we current offer a good user experience, we just screw those users and isv, but dropping the whitelist is a step further in that direction

I gotta agree with Sebastien; this seems like a horrible idea. There are apps that will *never* directly support Unity's notification area, but work fine with whitelisting. I regularly use at least three that I had to whitelist manually.

The only reason to remove the option of whitelisting would be to force technical users to decide to either stop using those programs (many of which need a working tray icon to be useful) or stop using Unity. If you want people to have a valid reason (freedom of choice in applications) to bash Unity in favor of every other desktop available, go for it.

Christo Swanepoel (css-private) wrote :

I also agree with the previous two posts.

If we have to stop using the system tray icon, what does Canonical suggest we should use?

I can only think of splitting the application into two parts. A service and a UI with the UI managing the service.

This might be big changes and add up on the cost to the company. It also makes supporting multiple OS much more complicated than it needs to be.

In my opinion it we'll need to do a redesign and do a complete rewrite of the application to do a good job of it.

Changed in unity:
assignee: nobody → Andrea Azzarone (andyrock)
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Andrea Azzarone (andyrock)
Changed in unity:
status: Triaged → In Progress
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → In Progress
Tim Penhey (thumper) on 2012-09-14
Changed in unity:
milestone: backlog → none
Tim Penhey (thumper) on 2012-09-14
tags: added: exbacklog
Andrea Agnolin (agno94) wrote :

Also libreoffice quickstart needs the notification area to be seen.

John Lea (johnlea) on 2012-09-19
Changed in ayatana-design:
status: Triaged → Fix Committed
John Lea (johnlea) on 2012-09-19
summary: - Remove Notification area whitelist in 12.10
+ Menu Bar - Remove Notification area whitelist in 12.10
summary: - Menu Bar - Remove Notification area whitelist in 12.10
+ Notification area whitelist is obsolete
Changed in unity:
milestone: none → 7.0.0
Changed in unity:
status: In Progress → Fix Committed
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: In Progress → Fix Committed
Changed in ayatana-design:
assignee: Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) → nobody
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

This bug was fixed in the package unity - 6.12.0daily13.02.07-0ubuntu1

unity (6.12.0daily13.02.07-0ubuntu1) raring; urgency=low

  [ Andrea Azzarone ]
  * make check fails on test-unit (LP: #1117487)
  * Notification area whitelist is obsolete (LP: #974480)

  [ Marco Trevisan (Treviño) ]
  * Switcher - when opening in detail mode (Alt+`) it should not use the
    spread animation (LP: #1116927)
  * Alt-tab sometimes focuses a window that is not in top of the app
    stack (LP: #1115775)
  * Switcher: Opening and closing the detail mode quickly makes unity
    re-enable it (LP: #1116785)
  * Exiting expo mode leaves the BFB quicklist open (LP: #1090565)

  [ MC Return ]
  * unmaximize_window_key instead of unmaximize_or_minimize_window_key
    exposed in g-c-c (LP: #1115128)

  [ Automatic PS uploader ]
  * Automatic snapshot from revision 3136
 -- Automatic PS uploader <email address hidden> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 06:20:12 +0000

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
Ed Guenter (edgue) wrote :

Thanks for breaking the 5000+ Ubuntu users within our company that "enjoy" using such ancient applications like Sametime, Lotus Notes or Symantec Antivirus. Maybe, in 5 years from now, such applications will accept that unity exist and provide indicators. Today, they dont. Or maybe unity is history in 5 years from now.

One of the few reasons I found to convince myself to dig into Unity was the fact that such icons would work a bit better than on KDE. Now you really took away one of the remaining "advantages" of Unity.

Excellent job. Thank you!

asmodey (pavel-finkelshtein) wrote :

What about my wine and java apps?

Mike M (hairy-palms-19) wrote :

so i now have to either revert this commit and compile myself or switch to a proper desktop environment, it also makes it that much harder to write cross platform gtk applications since statusicon is what windows and most other desktop environments support.

This is a good move. Developers have had plenty of time to update to new standards and features. Dropping support for this, sort of hack, promotes proper development for the future.


That's what LTS releases are for. Ubuntu 12.04 is going anywhere anytime soon. If the software your business is using is really that ancient, and these applications are no longer being developed, then maybe the problem doesn't lie with the this bug...

This is just my opinion, but if you insist on relying so much on those proprietary software, why are you using Ubuntu in the first place? Kind of missing the point, no?

Wine and Java apps are still supported.

Bear in mind that third-party software isn't all developed on Ubuntu. It's patently unreasonable to try to force third-party developers to code specially for Ubuntu. It seems rather arrogant for Ubuntu to try to dictate to third-party developers their own idea of best practices.

What's the harm in leaving the whitelist as long as even one app uses it? (It should have been created as a blacklist from the beginning, but that's water under the bridge now.)

I've also noted that all of the comments on this bug save two have been negative, yet the developers don't feel compelled to defend their decision in the face of strong opposition.

On 02/08/2013 11:32 AM, Scott Severance wrote:
> I've also noted that all of the comments on this bug save two have been
> negative, yet the developers don't feel compelled to defend their
> decision in the face of strong opposition.

Scott, if you could articulate the approach you think would be
appropriate to delivering a better user experience over time, that would
be appreciated.

In this case:

 * user testing supports the view that the indicators are a much better
experience than the old notification area
 * the new experience was introduced in 2009, it is now 2013
 * in the interim we have supported the old experience, providing a
large window for developers that care about Ubuntu users to adopt the
better API and experience
 * developers that do not care about Ubuntu users will not respond to
any other issues you may find in their software
 * we continue to maintain, at my expense, older versions of Ubuntu
compatible with the notification area

If you're offering to do the work, that's fine, but if you're insisting
that others do work for you, and have no proposal for how you would see
the platform evolve to get better over time, then please recognise the
paucity of your arguments. Finally, don't conflate a reluctance to have
the same argument endlessly with a reluctance to make a case. You'll
find our position clearly articulated here and elsewhere, we're just
reluctant to have to restate it every time, and be called names, when we
could be making an amazing experience that competes with Windows8 and
Android and MacOS ;)


Cheers I appreciate that you are now pushing me off Ubuntu. I have work applications that are never going to use appindicators.

Jason Donahue (timekiller) wrote :

This causes a real problem with Gtk Perl applications. There are no Perl modules to create indicators for Gtk3 (that I could find). All I could find was Gtk2::AppIndicator. You are effectively forcing Perl developers to Gtk2 rather than allowing us to move forward to Gtk3 development. This halts development of new programs that culd take advantage of the new library because you are imposing an arbitrary requirement that not all environment yet support.

Until there is a full suite of functionality for Gtk3, removing any backwards compatibility just hurts developers and users alike. Ask yourselves this: Who/what is being hurt by allowing the whitelist to exist ?

Paul Sladen (sladen) wrote :

Chris: which (precise) applications that you use for work do not support the Unity global menu?

For example, for myself, there are two applications without have global menu support:

  1. JOSM (OpenStreetMap editor, Java-based owing to portability)
  2. Fontforge (purely custom widget set, owing to age and other widgets sets not then supporting Unicode reliably)

that said, neither of these use the menubar for status (so I think the difference would be null here).

Mark Shuttleworth (sabdfl) wrote :

Chris, Jason, have you asked the developers to consider the bindings you

Mike M (hairy-palms-19) wrote :

to be fair, its not asking for additional work, merely to keep the existing work active, the default of only whitelisting java and wine keeps the same experience unless the user explicitly overrides it, and those overrides are staying in hard-coded form.

Dylan Taylor (aliendude5300) wrote :

Wow, I can't thank you guys enough for _completely breaking AutoKey_, as well as several other legacy applications that will probably never add AppIndicator support. There is no way that this bug was making managing the code more difficult, but it definitely will be a burden to people who rely on applications withot AppIndicator support.

Jason Donahue (timekiller) wrote :

The Perl Gtk3 libraries are still very much a work in progress. A lot of functionality is there, but it is still not feature complete. We are talking about a rich history of code that needs to be ported. CPAN shows Gtk2 dating back to 2003, and had new code committed as recently as 5 days ago. It will take time to bring even the core functionality over. And now you are suggesting I reach out to the maintainers and ask them to stop what they are doing and build this particular peice for one distro, albeit a popular one. In your own words:

If you're offering to do the work, that's fine, but if you're insisting
that others do work for you, and have no proposal for how you would see
the platform evolve to get better over time, then please recognise the
paucity of your arguments.

I can appreciate your desire to move away from the "old" way and have developers update their programs to adopt your way, but in this case that simply isn't possible yet. You are breaking functionality arbitrarily. More and more it feels like in the Ubuntu team's desire to open Linux to a more mainstream audience, they are alienating it's core users.

My application needed for work that had to be white listed.
Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime, Symantic AV, A couple of internal security tools all corporate. Without these I cant use Ubuntu at work so it will be off to RHEL or Windows. What's even more annoying is I just took a some of my co-workers through a demo of Ubuntu and how its better than anything else around and now I have to go back to them and tell sorry but you guys cant use this cool stuff because they just broke it, deliberately

MC Return (mc-return) wrote :

Pidgin and Guake also still need whitelisting...

James Cole (intangi) wrote :

Wow, what a terribly short-sighted egotistical decision...

So the POV is: only Ubuntu specific Linux software will be usable on Ubuntu going forward (even the whitelist approach while already stupid, and intentionally hidden to confuse non technical users into not using apps that don't write Ubuntu specific version, at least it was an option for those of us who use many non Ubuntu specific apps by choice and sometimes by mandate).

Why break usability of existing software to remove a list in a hidden setting (because the code is still there indefinitely for Wine and Java apps) for _no_reason_at_all_ Great... Well, Cinnamon is getting better every day...

ThomasLee82 (kamiyasha) wrote :

Though I don't have any software that requires a whitelist that I personally use (and work is Windows-only), I still feel that removing the whitelist is a step backwards.

From what I've been able to ascertain, the whitelist itself takes a minimal amount of code (I've heard 55 LOC), and provides more than its weight in functionality.

Please, for the sake of corporate users (ex: Ed Guenter), reconsider.

Marius B. Kotsbak (mariusko) wrote :

I believe Pidgin is compatible with the indicators.

MC Return (mc-return) wrote :

mariusko, here the latest Pidgin version just has the option "System Tray Icon", but this option does not work anymore and I cannot find any indicator options...

Jakob Schmitt (jakob-schmitt) wrote :

There are some popular cross platform apps like Truecrypt and Dragondisk without indicator support.

Vino also needs whitelisting because otherwise you won't recognise established remote desktop connections.

Gnome Phone Manager, Artha, Cryptkeeper - just to mention some other Linux apps which rely on a tray symbol and have no indicator support, too.

Paul Sladen (sladen) wrote :

James: I think a lot of it is about "works with Ubuntu" vs. "works against some APIs that were made 10 years ago, and which most/some Unices' Windows Managers have supported at some time". For stuff to work with *the Ubuntu experience* some effort will be required; this is much the same as following the HIG on Mac OSX. [*]

I'm tempted to suggest that the way to go with this is to have a separate application (_not_ part of the Unity, or Ubuntu APIs) which provides a implementation of the tray manager end per:

and which punts those requestes to a "regular" application window near a corner. Anything using the Systray API is not introspectable, it's not accessible and it's not really suitable for providing the depth of metadata necessary for the interface or for those who cannot see a grid of pixels. However, a separate implementation of the tray manager API would provide a legacy solution, and the .deb Recommends can pull in that shim when it's required so that it's only installed when such applications are pulled in.

[*] The counter for this would be that both Microsoft and the Linux kernel have succeeded for twenty years with prioritising mostly-reliable handling of previous generations of APIs. A separate shim application here would provide somewhere reasonably sandboxed to let legacy apps draw into their legacy raw container windows, while making it clear that these aren't a "supported" solution going forward, and importantly would get that code out of the Unity menubar implementation.

Jorge O. Castro (jorge) wrote :

Jason Donahue,

Shutter (the screenshot app) is Perl and has appindicator support, I don't know the implementation details but you could perhaps ping the author of the application:

Maybe there's a workaround we can post on the appindicator specs pages for Perl apps.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

Oh man, I've just come across this bug as a result of testing 13.04 and, along with a number of other people, finding serious problems with this.

It is a terrible decision!


1. "If the whitelist was retired, Java and Wine would be hard-coded as the only software still able to use the menu bar as if it was a notification area, because their developers don't necessarily know that Ubuntu even exists."

But what about other developers who do not know or care about Ubuntu?

2. "If the whitelist was retired, Java and Wine would be hard-coded…"

Clearly Mark does not know about proper programming practice. Hard-coding parameters was deprecated in the early 1980's.

3. "If the whitelist was retired, Java and Wine would be hard-coded…"

That does not increase freedom — it does the exact opposite. For Mark to try to predict which applications users may need to white-list is short-sighted. As Niels Bohr said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."

4. There are some well-respected and popular applications (such as TrueCrypt) that will no longer work when 13.04 comes around. Imagine the backlash. It's easy to say, "Oh, well, the application developers should change their code", but seriously, Canonical does not employ them. We depend on their goodwill and their time (not all developers are paid for their work).

Implementing this "feature" is unfortunate, and needs to be removed as a regression bug. Please, please, please keep the parameters as parameters and not hard-coded!

Mark Shuttleworth (sabdfl) wrote :

On 02/09/2013 01:42 PM, Paddy Landau wrote:
> But what about other developers who do not know or care about Ubuntu?

We can't do a great job supporting apps from developers who do not know
or care about Ubuntu. Others may offer to do a mediocre job of that for
you. We have an amazing community of developers who are building amazing
apps - by all means join us, but making demands doesn't work around here.

> As Niels Bohr said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially
> about the future."

About the past, however, we can be very clear. And the whitelist is most
definitely in the past, as we promised in 2009.

> 4. There are some well-respected and popular applications (such as
> TrueCrypt) that will no longer work when 13.04 comes around. Imagine the
> backlash. It's easy to say, "Oh, well, the application developers should
> change their code", but seriously, Canonical does not employ them. We
> depend on their goodwill and their time (not all developers are paid for
> their work).

You are depending on my goodwill and time right now ;)


Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

OK, Mark, I understand.

Cliff Wells (cliff-develix) wrote :

I think the friction here is between Canonical, who are using Linux, GTK, et al as a platform to develop a "walled garden" type setup and those who see Ubuntu as "just another Linux distro". Yes, "walled garden" is a bit overstated being that Ubuntu remains open source, but given the limited resources that are an inherent limitation in most FOSS projects, the net result isn't too far off the mark.

As Mark repeatedly mentions, OSX does things this way to good effect. I think if you want a typical Linux distro, Ubuntu is the wrong place to look. Ubuntu is developing into its own OS, complete with incompatible desktop, utilities, APIs, etc. I'm not making a value judgement, merely pointing out that people who want a typical Linux distro are pretty much guaranteed to be disappointed. I'd also say the same thing about distros such as Elementary OS. They don't aim for compatibility, rather they want to push the desktop paradigm and compatibility is a drag on such an endeavor.

If you want a "Linux distro", there's plenty to choose from. If you want the "Canonical experience", whatever that may evolve to be, then stick with Ubuntu. Personally, I plan on moving to something else at some point because I seek the former (and am quite pleased with GNOME Shell these days), but I can see the futility of trying to hold back Ubuntu with legacy support.

Miguel (xadrezmiguelpires) wrote :

I don't see a friction here, I only see costumers/users that need something and is going to be taken a way.
For me, what was more surprising was see that people with responsability don't care/listen to the user/costumers. I read someone say they need some specific software that need this, and people from Canonical saying that is a not going to append, to that applications (like truecript) and for wine or java no problem if understand correctly).
Is a vision that I don't like! (to much resembles me other SO)
I'm one off the responsables of the decision of our company to completely switch from MS to Ubuntu, and what I read is not a good reading.
Sorry for share my "vision" off this "problem".

Cliff Wells (cliff-develix) wrote :


I think you miss the point: you probably aren't the customer they want. They want customers who buy into their vision, not customers who need X legacy application to run. No OS can please everyone, and it seems clear that Canonical's goals do not align with yours. I think you'll need to simply acknowledge that and move on. You are asking for a Chevy at the Ford dealership.

Mike M (hairy-palms-19) wrote :

at least this is foss, i fully expect someone to host a PPA with this commit reverted that people can use, so hopefully it shouldnt be too much of an issue for people who do really need it.

Miguel (xadrezmiguelpires) wrote :


I'm not saying Canonical have to please everyone. I say a complitly different thing. You need to listning to Costumers.
Look someone says in the first post this:
"If the whitelist was retired, Java and Wine would be hard-coded as the only software still able to use the menu bar as if it was a notification area, because their developers don't necessarily know that Ubuntu even exists."

The question is: Way this developers are different from the others?

More someone say that the tools they need to port is not ready to they can port to GTK3.
Soo way changing something that, for now can, put people of "Ubuntu" vision?

About Canonical vision whats is missing their?
- They whant to make Ubuntu TV (cool)
- They want to make UbuntuPhone OS (Cool)

For my business, the Ubuntu Phone OS, is going to be a interesting tool, if we solve the "porting" of programs need to our business.

How many accounting programs exist for Linux?
How many ERPS exist for Linux?

For me, is more important to mantain costumers, listning to them, try to help them, and try to find partners that want to port the specific programs to Ubuntu.
If not, in my humble opinion, is going to be another OS.

To resume everithing:
- I understand that they don't have to mantain this legacy software, but, some software can't, for now be ported, so, why don't wayt for a little more time, and when the tools that are needed to port are complited then do the moving,

- Start thinking more about whats is missing in the vision, in a global view.

- Do not tray to imitate some other OS, we are talking about Ubuntu OS, not OSX or other OS. Be Ubuntu!

Have a nice sunday

Paul Sladen (sladen) wrote :

Miguel/Cliff: it's a bit of a "backronym", but perhaps think of it this way. We have the *buntu core (kernels, system libraries, brand, fonts, …) on top of which are built several optimised distributions (remixes):

  KDE: [Ku]buntu
  LxDE: [Lu]buntu
  XDE: [Xu]ubuntu
  Unity: [U]buntu
  Gnome3 Shell: [G]ubuntu

There are other ones for Education, for GNOME 3 Shell, for music production, and dozens more. Each has a slightly different target; what they share is the core, the Debian packaging and the infrastructure, parts of the brand and five letters of the name.

Various people (mainly via Canonical) maintain/"garden" the infrastructure for most of these remixes, particularly the Launchpad service, the build daemons to build all the Debian packages and the main FTP servers to distribute them. And various people then make the specific remixes *work*: those people are often individuals, small companies (such as Blue Systems); often big companies (particularly via Canonical).

Now where people have their "day job" they are necessaryily going to be focused the dayjob since that's why they're being retained.

So, there's KDE people at Blue Systems who spend their time focused on the KDE parts of Kubuntu. There's Unity people in Canonical's Design/Desktop Experience team who spend their time focused on the Unity parts of Ubuntu. Kubuntu won't run Gnome 3 Shell applications without additional libraries/infrastructure; and GNOME3 Shell won't run KDE programs without additional libraries, and even when they are run as crossovers, the level of seemless integration will be less. The same is the case Unity, Enlightenment, and everything else: the integration with be less in a differing environment.

Miguel: you've particularly mentioned Unity/UbuntuPhone and Unity/UbuntuTV and it'll be good to see the apps targeted at these (it's not just you that thinks they're cool). You've also mentioned the various work applications (TrueCrypt), so the question is what are these targeting?

Are they targetting Ubuntu (Unity), or Gubuntu (GNOME3 Shell), or Kubuntu (KDE4). Do they know what their customers are wanting? There's quite a bit of "follow the money" here; if your company is a customer of the makers of a programme (you won't be the only one) then it really focuses the attention to _state that Unity support is required_.

Miguel (xadrezmiguelpires) wrote :


First, i don't imply Ubuntu Phone OS or Ubuntu TV is cool because I think is cool. I say the vision is cool, have a unique OS for all, that was what I was saying. Like have the possibility to go to a reunion and use my phone and not have to carry my Laptop.

Second, Canonical have the right to do and decided what they whant, and me, have the right to say, Hey, why you don't wayt a little, for everione ajust or have the "tools" to make the change possible? (see #19)

Third, about the " There's quite a bit of "follow the money" here". Wher is the tools:

How many accounting programs exist for Linux?
How many ERPS exist for Linux?

If follow the mony is apply in this 2 examples, we and other companys, only going to change when, and if, the Software houses make the product to Linux. And believe me the only company I know of that have a ERP to Linux is SAP and it costs more then 2000% then all the software we have.

I hoppe I made my self clear about what I was traying to say.
Have a nice sunday, and yes i Know what truecript is, and what is for.

Xiaojun Ma (damage3025) wrote :

Except some "old school" cooperate software that mentioned somebody else.

What about IBus, the default input method framework of Ubuntu.

It doesn't support AppIndicator yet.
On the other hand, it's the Ubuntu specific have half-broken patch make it play with Ubuntu.

Why I say it is half broken?
It doesn't show input method specific context menu as upstream tray icon.
It has bug like:

Another ugly thing is what if the manually compile ibus?
We have 1.4.2 for Raring.
What if the user try to compile latest 1.5.1 herself? Not usable in Unity?
1.5.x is not introduced in Raring for some reasons, but particular user may have different opinion.

Ed Guenter (edgue) wrote :

Working in the same company as Chris Giltnane does ... I can only agree.

If whitelisting stays disabled ... unity turns useless for me and the other ubuntu users in our company.
We will either turn to kubuntu/xubuntu ... or Redhat or Windows. If that is where you want to us to turn to, fine.

I am just a bit ashamed because I tried to convince many of my Linux-using coworkers in the past that unity is actually a great product and worth learning about.

Stephen M. Webb (bregma) on 2013-04-03
Changed in unity:
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
John Lea (johnlea) on 2013-06-20
Changed in ayatana-design:
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
31 comments hidden view all 111 comments
Henning Sprang (henning) wrote :

+1 about this decision is bad for usability and everything.

it breaks applications that are usually working just fine.

it was already bad enough that Ubuntu broke applications by default by not letting them show up in the notifications area - see

Bow adding up soemthing that even makes it impossible to fixc this ug with a workaround seems not reasonable at all

please consider to revert this change.

oriolpont (oriolpont) wrote :

Me I also use a few legacy programs that need the notification area. My workaround (not mentioned yet): gnome-panel, with the "notification area" applet.

I use a single, very small, non-expanded panel with this and other applets I still use (invest applet, classic menu, and window selector) in an empty corner of the screen.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

@oriolpont You'll see an excellent workaround in comment #42.

Luca Maranzano (liuk001) wrote :

Today my unity has been upgraded from 7.0.0daily13.04.18~13.04-0ubuntu1systray1 to 7.0.0daily13.06.19~13.04-0ubuntu1 and so.... no more systray :-(

May be that timekiller will update his PPA, but if you are impatient and you want to apply his systray patch and rebuild Unity the command to use for getting the right Unity source code is this:

 bzr branch lp:unity/7.0


Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

I see that Bug #721431 is marked as a duplicate. But it is not a duplicate; this bug says that we must disable certain apps, whereas Bug #721431 says that the Skype app is disabled and should not be disabled.

Please remove that bug from the list of duplicates.

Terry Zhou (zhouxc) wrote :

 Please get systray indicator back, there are a lot of legacy applications won't adopt to this like pidgin and stardict.

Jason Donahue (timekiller) wrote :

Luca: Just noticed the update. I've patched and uploaded a new version to my PPA. Just waiting for the packages to get built now.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

@timekiller — is there any way for this to be automated? It would save you a load of hassle.

Teodor Milkov (tm-del) wrote :

Oop, they did it again - upgraded to 13.10 and my pidgin, workrave and other apps disappeared from the indicator area :-(

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :


Please go to the following bugs and vote for each of them (click on the green writing near the top-right of each page). It may be worthwhile posting any relevant comments in those bugs, where applicable. Also, raise a new bug report for each of Pidgin, Workrave and the other apps.

Bug #1119420
Bug #721431
Bug #761587
Bug #587272
Bug #1192020

There may be other relevant ones of which I am not aware.

Please do *not* vote for this bug (bug #974480), because it would mean that you agree with removing the functionality!

To belatedly add my $0.02:

I'm a user of Rackspace's backup product Jungle Disk ( They provide Jungle Disk binaries for Linux, even packaging them as DEBs, which has made it very convenient to use with Ubuntu.

Unfortunately their software relies on a systray icon to provide the only entrance point for a user to get into the application. So if that icon is not available, the software becomes effectively unusable.

In the past I was able to use the whitelist to ensure that the icon would still be displayed, but that stopped working with the removal of the whitelist in Raring. When we reached the release of Saucy and the app was still not migrated to AppIndicator, I contacted Rackspace to ask if they had any plans to update it. Their response was that the app works fine in Precise, and since that's the most current LTS edition I should just use it instead of Raring/Saucy/etc. until a new LTS edition is released.

This indicates that retiring the whitelist in order to prod developers to update their software was kind of meaningless, since as long as 12.04 is supported they can just tell users to use that. And since 12.04 will be supported for a VERY long time, they can sit on this excuse for not updating until nearly 2018! So there's really not any particular pressure on them to do things the Right Way.

I understand the motivation for removing the whitelist, but since it was present in the most current long-lived LTS version removing it before the next LTS release just put users like me in the bind of either having to stick with 12.04 to support one app, or throwing away otherwise functional software. Which is not a great position to be in.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

Jason, Mark Shuttleworth does not receive comments from this bug. Please add comments and your vote to the bugs listed in comment #81.

Mark Shuttleworth (sabdfl) wrote :

Hello Paddy ;)

Maxim Loparev (laplandersan) wrote :

desperately waiting for timekillers PPA update since upgrade to 13.10

Maxim Loparev (laplandersan) wrote :

Mark, meanwhile what do you think about tcltk and JavaFX toolkits. Shouldn't they exists in Ubuntu universe? To be precise i'm talking about tkabber and davmail packages which broken by this amazing decesion for more than a year now.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

Comment #84 : Sorry, Mark, I really thought that you no longer saw this thread. I take back comment #83.

Rainer Rohde (rainer-rohde) wrote :

Skype no longer shows up in the indicator in 13.10, fresh install. Needless to say, Skype is actively running, I just can't get to it to control it without indicator...

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

@Rainer, I suggest that you raise a new bug.

Miloš Jakovljević (milos-sd) wrote :

Will you release packages for 13.10? :)

Miloš Jakovljević (milos-sd) wrote :

I installed Unity from unity-systray PPA on 13.10, but systray doesn't work.

Maxim Loparev (laplandersan) wrote :

@milos-sd That's empty autobuild according to the diff from saucy version The old patch can't be applied to the new sources, as it seems whole com.canonical.Unity.Panel schema missing. I guess some manual work needed here.

Jason Donahue (timekiller) wrote :

Finally got around to updating to 13.10 and find my patch no longer works. As Maxim stated com.canonical.Unity.Panel is not being used. So, now my ppa just whitelists everything.

Again, the ppa is here:

to use it, of course:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:timekiller/unity-systrayfix
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

I am attaching the (much more simplified) patch here.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

Jason, thank you. We all appreciate your efforts.

Rick Harris (rickfharris) wrote :

Hear Hear!
Been using this patch for quite some time now, so big thanks for maintaining sanity for the desktop people.

However this previously working functionality is still spiralling in a downward direction.
QT applications no longer show up in the systray and I've never had sni-qt work at all.

Trying not to re-iterate what has largely already been said here regarding the amateurish breaking of applications that use the Linux DE standard systray (including nautilus file copy).

Just like to add that all QT applications that previously ran in the systray using this patch, now don't show up unfortunately :(

Maxim Loparev (laplandersan) wrote :

Hey Mark, can you please comment on this.
According to the origin of this bug "The application indicator system has been in place for two years now, which should be long enough for applications to adopt it."
Ok, i asked one of the (Debian) developers to consider to support it in some tk app(so as you don't provide tk bindings they should be created first). So he asked me about, surprize, documentation. And the questions are:

1) Do you think that application indicator system so popular and mature enough, so 3 of 4 links from the could lead to 404 pages

2)Do you think it's so cool that it even not worth to mention it at

3) Is it really so hard to recognize your fail and revert the patch that breaks compatibility instead of forcing the world to play with your half supported/half abandoned API initiative?

Stephen M. Webb (bregma) wrote :

@Maxim Loparev

Thank you for making the effort to improve the Ubuntu desktop.

The status notifier specification is popular and mature enough that in the half-decade since it was first published, most desktop toolkits have implemented and integrated it.

You can find excellent documentation, including bindings for several popular languages and example code, starting from [1]. I'm sure the Tk bindings can build on one of the existing bindings.

A more effective way to address this would be in a mailing list or forum, rather than commenting on a fixed and released bug against the design of one particular desktop environment that also happens to use code that implements the specification. thank you for bringing the broken web links to our attention: once again filing a bug against the appropriate software is a more effective way to bring about improvement.


Maxim Loparev (laplandersan) wrote :


Thanks for the link.

> design of one particular desktop environment that also happens to use code that implements the specification
which developed this specification, forcefully dropped support of previous specification with similar functionality and obviously lacking the direction on maintaining consistent documentation on it's own resources.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

@bregama — "… rather than commenting on a fixed and released bug…"

Fixed? How can you say "fixed"? This bug has broken packages, caused regressions, and fixed nothing whatsoever.

Stephen M. Webb (bregma) wrote :

@Paddy Landau

Not a single package in this bug is "broken" since they conform to the published status notifier specification, a common public specification developed through the collaboration environment by a number of individuals representing various desktop toolkits, including but not limited to Unity and KDE. It has been adopted as standard by all common Free desktop environments except one.

Third-party software is free to implement the common specification or not. Should they choose to not implement it or use the functionality if available in their toolkit of choice, their software will not work well on Ubuntu or many of its flavours. We hope they would choose to work well with our product, but ultimately it's their decision and I assume they do not make it lightly.

You can either ask the developer of your favourite third-party software to support running their product on Ubuntu, or you can find an alternative that works better in this environment.

Maxim Loparev (laplandersan) wrote :


>Third-party software is free to implement the common specification or not. Should they choose to not implement it or use the functionality if available in their toolkit of choice, their software will not work well on Ubuntu or many of its flavours. We hope they would choose to work well with our product, but ultimately it's their decision and I assume they do not make it lightly.

It would be true if you'd really removed systray support completely, however you left hardcoded exception for Wine and Java which say - we don't really care about user experience as it's obvious that hardcoding exceptions for two non-linux native toolkits could not pass any QA. So we are just reducing customizability of our DE to just force developers to take our specs if they wanted to run apps on our DE. Funny thing that this other DE, which has not been adopted your specs, do the same - insulting own users by removing customization options.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Maxim, the reason for excepting Wine and Java is stated in the last line of the bug description.

Anton Piatek (anton-piatek) wrote :

Whereas my c++ and python developers also may not know that Ubuntu exists,
so I am forced to use a PPA back port in a 6000 user corporate deployment
as they have no plans to rework their code in the next 5 years.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

Matthew, the last line reads, "… Java and Wine would be hard-coded as the only software still able to use the menu bar as if it was a notification area, because their developers don't necessarily know that Ubuntu even exists."

You do realise that there are other developers who "don't necessarily know that Ubuntu even exists", don't you? If that is the rationale for excluding Java and Wine, then why aren't you excluding all other applications where this is the case?

This so-called bug-fix both contradicts itself and violates one of the first rules of programming — no hard-coding of parameters.

As you can tell by the volume of complaints, new bugs and related comments, this is not a bug-fix but rather a bug-creator. If Canonical really has a good reason for this change (i.e. apart from digging in your heels), it would be good to let us know.

Version 14.04 is nearly upon us, and there are still many applications, some of them international de facto standards, that have not been adapted and may not be in the reasonable future. It gives Ubuntu a bad reputation amongst users both new and old: "Why doesn't this work in Ubuntu? It works in Windows! (and OS X and Red Hat and previous Ubuntu versions)" — "Because Ubuntu deliberately broke it! Don't ask me why; they won't tell us!"

As a promoter of Ubuntu, this actually embarrasses me at times.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Paddy, if you know of other popular runtimes that allow graphical applications with notification area elements to run on Ubuntu, where their developers are likely to be unaware of Ubuntu, please report those individually. (Anton's examples of C++ and Python don't fall into that category: they're just programming languages. And any Linux-specific runtime won't fall into that category either, since Ubuntu probably has more PC users than all other Linux distributions combined.) The same goes for those mysterious "international de facto standard" applications -- we can't do anything about them if they remain unnamed.

I don't know what you mean by "new bugs and related comments". This report does not have any duplicates, and even if it did, it would not be possible to tell anything in particular from their quantity, because people don't tend to report bugs of the form "my menu bar is too consistent and predictable". Opposition is usually noisier than agreement. And a primary reason this report has so many comments is that I and others have continued to answer your questions. I described the reason for abolishing the notification area nearly four years ago. <>

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

Matthew, thank you for posting that link. It would have been useful if I had had it when I previously requested third party developers to modify their programs. It is notable that two of those developers have not even bothered to reply to me; clearly, they don't care about Ubuntu (they obviously know about Ubuntu now that I have made the request).

If I understand you correctly, you want us to open a new bug for each and every third-party app that does not adhere to the Canonical standard, i.e. do not work correctly in 13.04 and above? Please confirm or correct me.

What about Java and Wine: have you attempted to negotiate with their developers? At the very least, they will become aware that Ubuntu exists, meaining that (according to the bug description) you can remove the whitelist altogether. I will be happy to contact them on your behalf if you are too busy.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Paddy, yes, it may help to contact the developers of those applications -- though if they run their apps on Ubuntu at all, almost certainly they have realized by now that their notification area items don't show up by default.

The Ubuntu Developer site has a reference for using the indicator system. <>

And Gnome similarly advises that the notification area is deprecated, with an example of what to do instead. <>

There is no issue with the developers of Java and Wine themselves. The issue is with the thousands of developers of applications that use Java or that run on Wine. It is not reasonable to expect a Windows application developer, for example, to check whether their app runs on Wine.

Paddy Landau (paddy-landau) wrote :

Thank you for your reply, Matthew. I have already contacted the most important of the apps in question, and while one of them was most helpful and has changed the package, the others have not even replied, such is their indifference.

I had understood you to mean that I should raise a bug report on this bug tracker; perhaps that is indeed a better way to go.

Ed Guenter (edgue) wrote :

Just wondering:

Would it be possible to create a new Ubuntu component that makes use of the new indicator system ... to display stuff that would otherwise go the system tray?

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Ed, as Paul Sladen explained in 2013-02-09, the notification area was basically a set of tiny windows: a program could put anything in its window, responding to clicks, right-clicks, double-clicks, drags, or anything else, and doing anything in response, including opening menus in any toolkit. As a simple example (unfortunately common on Windows), an item might open one menu on left-click and a different menu on right-click, with some of the items in those two menus being the same. Even if you came up with heuristics for merging two menus, there's no practical way that a hypothetical Ubuntu component could tell, ahead of time, that either action *would* open a menu, rather than, say, disconnect your Voip call.

Maxim Loparev (laplandersan) wrote :

So, trusty is here and i'm desperately waiting for the ppa update

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