I've decided to experiment with making my life more beautiful by having background images scraped from flickr that change every 30 minutes together with transparent terminal and editor windows.

However, this has some downsides. Occasionally the images are too visible and impede editing, so I want to tweak transparency.

Thus I want a quick way to change transparency in my editor (emacs: done) and my terminal (mate-terminal, not-done).

This appears to be possible in gnome-terminal (Changing gnome terminal transparency with a command in Ubuntu?). My understanding was that mate-terminal was forked from gnome-terminal.

" You can use gconftool with the key /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/background_type (you might have to use a different profile name than "Default"): "

But I don't seem to be able to find any settings that change when I change background.

meld <( { gconftool  -R / | sort ; gsettings list-schemas | xargs -n 1 gsettings list-recursively  | sort  } ) <( { sleep 20 ;  gconftool  -R / | sort ; gsettings list-schemas | xargs -n 1 gsettings list-recursively  | sort  } )

Source code

I tried reading some sort code. This looks like a good starting point: https://github.com/mate-desktop/mate-terminal/blob/078d0b1fdac2e50dfa4411b612e78a4be134e47d/src/terminal-screen.c#L1111

The profile looks to get found like so profile = g_value_get_object (value); The reference manual for this function call can be found here but the documentation for GValue seems a little opaque.

Anyway yes, does anyone know enough to get an answer for this?

Possible lines of attack

  • Use btrfs snapshots to discover exactly what changed
  • Use *strace *to work out what is going on (strace output is a bit noisy because of this being an X application)
  • Read the code mode


  • Switch to gnome-terminal. I'm disinclined to do this because something that is unlikely to change. My understanding is that MATE was forked because gnome was changing too fast so this seems like a good choice.
  • Switch to another terminal. I'm not open to this. But don't really know which terminal to switch to
  • Intelligently render backgrounds to ensure that they are tinted correctly
  • Have keybindings that modify the background rather than the terminal

mate-terminal store it's settings in dconf, separate set per each terminal settings profile. So if you have default profile then it will be:

$ dconf read /org/mate/terminal/profiles/default/background-type
$ dconf read /org/mate/terminal/profiles/default/background-darkness 

First setting for background type - solid or transparent, and second one for transparency level.

To change transparency settings programmatically you have 2 options:

  1. Use single profile and change it's settings via dconf:

    $ dconf write /org/mate/terminal/profiles/default/background-type "'transparent'"
    $ dconf write /org/mate/terminal/profiles/default/background-type "'solid'"
  2. Create 2 profiles with different settings and choose one when launching terminal:

    $ mate-terminal --load-config=FILE
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