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A Brainstorming Page In Gnome Wiki for Background Apps!

Allan Day started a brainstorming page in Gnome Wiki, that you can add your ideas and relevant art, about how Gnome should treat apps that need to run in background, like Music Players, Torrent and Email Clients etc.


  • Need to indicate which apps are running in the background.
  • Need to provide the ability to quit/close background apps.
  • Background apps should be easy to find. ie. They shouldn’t disappear “somewhere else”.

Allan says:

The idea of allowing applications to run in the background while not having a window open is something that the other designers and I are interested in exploring.

Of course, if we want to allow apps to run in the background, we would need to allow all apps to do it, and we’d need to have a way for the shell to indicate which apps are running in the background – so there’s a bit of work to do at the system level first.

We can try and take this forward, and it would be great if you could help us.

Background Apps

Current way is how Deluge works, by using the bottom panel to display an Icon, without be visible on left panel or overview.


Deluge uses a custom handler to override the default “close” signal when we click on “x” button.

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  • Eduard Gotwig

    yes, I think the way how deluge does it is smart, and GNOME Music should do the same. I think Rhythmbox has something similar?

    • alex285

      You have to set this up from options. I think Chrome OS reveals a menu close/minimize when you hover the “x” button.

  • Osqui

    Transmission does the same. I like this behaviour, but I think it could be interesting adding a different button instead of “X”…(maybe “_” ?) to separate the two concepts: close and remain

    • dehen

      I agree with this, it’s always been a pet peeve of mine. I always thought “x” should be replaced by “.” in apps that hide to tray.

      Say you get a phone call while you’re running your music player and you go to close it in a hurry. There should be a visual indicator that “x” isn’t going to stop the process.

      I usually turn off all “run in background” type functionality and just drop all apps I don’t want to close to another desktop.

      • Osqui

        Yes, “.” would be perfect

  • Charlie

    But the GNOME argument is that: An average user sees no difference in hitting minimise or hitting close if the application opens in the previous state. Therefore we have no minimise button.

    Personally apps that don’t close when I hit close really annoy me – its very windows-like behaviour, you end up with the tray (or with Gnome, the notification area) cluttered with applications you wanted to close and having to remember to go menu & quit to really close them.

    Just move them to another desktop in Gnome and they’re out of your way running in the ‘backround’, the Dash will show you they’re still running. Windows had to design some half-baked solution using the tray area only because they don’t have multiple desktops.

  • Matthias Fuchs

    hey gusy, didn’t you ever look how things are working on OS X? There are three kinds of apps: one that have only one window, and after the window has been closed the app is terminated. these aps are called utility apps.
    The second type of app are the document based/multi window apps. even if you close the last window the apps stays open, having in indicator in the dock, telling you that it’s open. by clicking on the icon a new window, eg texeditor window, is created.
    the third type are apps that have one window but do some background work, eg a music player. a click on close simply closes the main window and keeps the app running in the dock (with indicator). Clicking on the dock app shows the main window.

    So basically close always means close, but it’s only for the window.
    The app decides how to react. there is no need for a separate app status corner at all.

    though there is a system status area on the top panel, simmilar to gnome shell, there are mostly just system settings an infos in there. If an app wants to show you some info stuff, it shows a popup message in the top right corner which vanishes after a few seconds.
    This is just a rough summup, but it is really worth to look into this. apple solved a lot of problems the gnome devs are struggling with. ai don’t say tat apple’s solution is the best, but it’s more consistent than gnome shell’s one.