Is there a simple way to enable support for mousewheel scrolling in tools like vi, man and less in the default terminal of Mint Mate version 17.3? This works by default in Mint Cinnamon 17.1 and the recently released version 18.0 of Mint Mate. Scrolling in the terminal itself does work in Mate 17.3, however.

In researching how to do this, I've tracked the issue down to the different terminals each distribution uses. Apparently, Mate 17.3 uses MATE Terminal 1.12.0, while Cinnamon 17.1 uses GNOME Terminal 3.6.2. I'm not sure what Mate 18.0 uses.

If I install and run gnome-terminal on Mate 17.3, mouse scrolling works in vi, man and less. Short of changing default terminals, is there a setting within MATE Terminal that will enable scrolling in those programs?

1 Answer 1


At one point this was implemented as a patch to gnome-terminal, then later added to VTE (the library which both use for almost all of their functionality).

For instance, in 2012, Steve Zesch commented in an early bug report for MATE Terminal

This was a feature that the Ubuntu devs patched to gnome-terminal. It relies on a patched version of vte that, once again, the Ubuntu devs patched. Since these patches were either not contributed or rejected upstream, our code-base doesn't contain them. In the future, the Ubuntu devs will have to apply these patches to mate-terminal.

In other words, we can't build these because not every distro includes the patched version of vte that this feature requires.

And later, in 2014 you can see the patch mentioned in

where Vlad Orlov noted

What's more interesting, the patch in gnome-terminal now does nothing
1 because the functionality has been added upstream in VTE3 (libvte-2.90-9)
2. That means the alternate scroll is always on and can't be disabled.

1 https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/1340067
2 https://git.gnome.org/browse/vte/commit/?id=9f8c1b88dcd880c2d9e78c93521ee755560a9275

The latter was committed 2013-09-30, to implement the private mode 1007

        Ps = 1 0 0 7  -> Enable Alternate Scroll Mode.

which was implemented in xterm in patch #282 (a year before: 2012/09/28) to address

that is, providing an optional method for implementing a feature said by the user

This is obviously a hack, but I want it.

VTE's commit-log omits the tie-in to xterm, though the related bug report comment by the developer states

Christian Persch 2012-10-08 21:17:39 UTC

BTW, xterm 282 now implements this behaviour as well, via the new DEC 1007 control sequence. [See http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=683942]

Because VTE hardcodes the initial value of this feature to "on", ultimately MATE Terminal will get that functionality without change when it is adapted or rebuilt for newer VTE releases.

For reference, the version of VTE which would be needed is 0.34.9

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