Ubuntu 11.04 introduced overlay scrollbars with a minimal look and scrolling controls that only appear when the mouse is nearby. Some applications, particularly those not from the Ubuntu repositories, may be incompatible. I ran into problems with some of the Android SDK‘s Java-based GUI applications like DDMS. The overlay scrollbars appeared but refused to allow me to scroll.

overlay scrollbar in Ubuntu 11.10

Any application can be started without overlay scrollbars by changing the LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR environment variable to 0. When starting an application from the terminal, prepend the command with LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0. This example will start gedit with classic scrollbars:
LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0 gedit

I haven’t had any problems with the global menu bar in Unity, but you can disable that for an application in a similar fashion using UBUNTU_MENUPROXY=0.

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of global application blacklist available, but if you want to always start a problematic application this way there are a few options. You can modify the application’s menu entry, add a alias for the application’s name, or just launch the application using a script.

Alternatively, overlay scrollbars can be disabled entirely for your user.


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