Glance at Windows 11, macOS, or even customised KDE Plasma desktops, and you’ll quickly learn that blurred window effects are a real vibe.
But did you know that you can get a similar look on your GNOME-based Ubuntu desktop? Oh yes, all thanks to the third-party, unofficial, no-warranties, use-at-your-own-risk mutter-rounded repository on Github.
Translucent app windows on Linux is not a new idea. The road to a feted desktop is littered with code from projects that have, in one form or another, tried to bring this feature to the fore, for all, over the years.
Feeling a bit bored, I installed this patched version of Mutter on Ubuntu 21.10 to create this look:
Pretty nice, isn’t it?
Now there are various reasons (the main one being usefulness) why the “translucent windows” craze has never quite bled into the Linux mainstream. That said, it’s doable; there are projects and engines and patches that provide it, but it’s not an “out of the box” feature end users can toggle on/off with a simple switch in GNOME Shell.
Mutter Rounded is a third-party patch that, thanks to some clever scripting, makes it easy to try on Ubuntu (as well as Fedora; and Arch users can install prebuilt version from the AUR).
The patches add a (configurable) border radius to all GTK windows, bringing rounded bottom corners to GTK apps that don’t natively have them, like the GNOME Terminal and Gedit — even LibreOffice:
Mutter Rounded also allows you to render GTK windows transparent and apply a blur over what lays beneath. Although
gsettings are enabled during install, I found using the nifty Mutter Rounded Settings app the easiest way to adjust blur intensity, opacity, and brightness:
I like that you have to explicitly opt apps/windows in to the blur effect. It’s not automatic. Additionally, you can exclude apps from the border radius rule too. Lots of scope for mix-and-match customisation.
So would I recommend the feint-hearted try to install mutter-rounded? No. It’s an involved process that affects a core part of the OS.
That said, it isn’t exactly difficult to do (and, more importantly undo) either: clone a repo, run a build-script inside, install the patched
.deb files it spits out, reboot, bam!
This is an extreme customisation and the end result isn’t without compromise. On the blur/transparent side the entire window is affected by default, not just ‘parts’ of it (as is the case on macOS or Windows 11). This can be remedied by using a GTK theme with transparent elements (like Fluent Blur), and setting the opacity to 100% in the settings app.
Also, the rounded bottom corners may, theme dependent, look a bit obvious — but it’s better than nothing, and when paired with the right kind of GTK theme it delivers a dramatic look that’s hard to achieve otherwise.
If you’re interested in trying it out yourself dart over to the GitHub page. There you’ll find all the code and all the commentary you’ll need to get things up and running on your desktop.
To undo the effect of the patch after installing it force reinstall the repo versions of Mutter and related packages (below applies to Ubuntu 21.10, package names may differ on other distros):
sudo apt install mutter gir1.2-mutter-8 libmutter-8-0 mutter-common mutter-8-tests --reinstall
Then log out, and back in.