root window (in)sanity

Pearl Louis pearl.louis at
Wed Feb 27 00:39:27 EST 2002

As far as I know there are two types of transparency in aterm.  The one
I am using and which you seem to be using is the "fast" transparency
(-tr).  The description from the aterm website is:

"When doing so aterm's window background is set to be ParentRelative.
That instructs X server tu use the part of background image from parent
window, that is exactly underneath of our window, thus creating
see-through effect."

I have no real idea what they are talking about here with ParentRelative
window (I am pretty much a Linux newbie...) but from reading their
website I have a feeling that "fast" transparency in aterm is different
from normal transparency (which they call "true" or "slow"

Anyway they also list the problems with "fast" transparency.  One of
these might hold the clue to your problems.  The website with the
relevant details is here:


On Tue, 2002-02-26 at 22:18, Nemo - earth native wrote:
> The joy of transparent terminals. It's what's made linux screenshots
> famous the world over for years. 
> I'm sure you're all familiar with the basic memory-chugging method. 
>  . Run your terminal app
>  . Terminal app discovers[1] what the root window looks like
>  . Terminal app uses a copy of this root window as it's own background,
>    shifted as needed to maintain the illusion of transparency.
>    Tinted too if need be.
> [1] There seem to be multiple "discovery" methods. Let me elaborate.
> I have two terminals that do transparency - aterm and gnome-terminal. 
> So let's run through a not-typical-but-contrived scenario for a moment. 
> 1. a gnome-aware app sets the background. I would use galeon normally
> since it's [a] near at hand, and [b] I don't run any other gnomeish
> stuff.
> 2. run gnome-terminal. It picks up the root window and transparency all
> seems to work fine. 
> 3. run aterm - it picks up the transparency, but it isn't shifted as the
> window moves, so the illusion of transparency is lost. 
> 4. set the root window to something else with the gnome-aware app. 
> ...gnome-terminal sees the change and responds. yay. 
> ...aterm does not. it seems locked into using the background it already
> has.
> 5. set the root window with a non-gnome-aware app. qiv, xstarfish,
> eeyes, xsetbg ... it all seems to be the same:
> ...both gnome-terminal and aterm do not see the new background. 
> End Result:
> I apparently have 3 different root windows set. 
> . The real one
> . The one gnome-terminal sees (and still shifts appropriately when teh
> window is moved)
> . The one aterm sees. 
> er... 
> *huh*
> So, time to play with Xresources... 
> <half an hour later>
> aterm -tr (the commandline option to turn on transparency) ... gets
> wierd if there is a Aterm*backgroundPixmap: resource set - which I do
> for my preferred normal behaviour. 
> If I remove that resource, aterm -tr seems to work normal... the image
> scales. If that resource IS set, then the -tr option seem to turn off
> the pixmap, but does NOT turn on the transparency. 
> gah. 
> It's madness I tell you. 
> .
> .
> .
> Sorry for the long write guys... this started as a question, and ended
> with me stopping before I start ranting at configuration of
> applications. 
> Oh well... after all that, have a screenshot from last week... 
> (the IRC log seems ironic given this .. uh.. email :)
> .../Nemo

n 614BC the viscount Wen of Chu had the tortoise consulted 
regarding the transfer of the capital to I.  The soothsayer replied:  
This transfer will be advantageous to the people, and fatal to 
the prince.  The viscount said:  If it would be advantageous to the 
people, it would so also for me.  For Heaven makes the princes for the
 people.  If my people would be happy, I would be also, 
whatever might happen to me personally...So having transferred his 
residence to I, the viscount died there in the fifth month of the same
The Sages said of him, that he understood how a prince should 
contemplate destiny.

The Tso-chuan, Narratives of Tso attributed to Tso Ch'iu-ming 
(written sometime in the 5th century BC)

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