Ubuntu 11.04 and disappearing scrollbars

Ubuntu 11.04 desktop (the new one, not classic) has quite nice visual feature. There are no scrollbars, but sliders that appear when you put mouse arrow over them. Quite good looking visual effect, but they just did not work with Eclipse. Which makes it really tedious to scroll vertically using only mouse scroll button. And impossible to scroll horizontally.

There is an easy fix for this. Create a file named /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars with

sudo touch /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars

and then edit it by adding there a line


Log out and log in again. Now scrollbars work.

This means, that you will have those old scrollbars in every application, not those new sliders. I am more comfortable with old permanent scrollbars for a good reason – I am using touch screens.

But if you happen to like those new sliders, then you could use the tip that Vinicius pointed out. In that case, forget what I wrote before, and make a script to deactivate sliders for Eclipse only, like this


Name it whatever you like, and launch Eclipse with it.

26 Responses to “Ubuntu 11.04 and disappearing scrollbars”
  1. Bruno Braga says:

    Nice! It was bugging me quite a bit!

    But one-step command sounds simpler to me:

    echo "export LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0" >> /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars


    • Ivan Perez says:

      Yeap, it is simpler, but you cannot do:

      sudo echo “export LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0” >> /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars

      What you can write, however:
      sudo sh -c ‘echo “export LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0” >> /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars’

  2. Vinicius says:

    This would remove the new scrollbars for all the programs, you can make a script for eclipse like this:


    So only Eclipse will be affected

    • technomagus says:

      You are right. I’ll add this to main post.

      I just found these old style scrollbars more comfortable to use, since I am also using touch-screens, where those new “magically appearing” sliders were really awkward to use. So I never bothered to seek this kind of solution.


    • Pat says:

      Just in case anyone makes the same mistake as me… I made a file ‘eclipse’ in ~/bin that ran the suggested scripts. This, of course, made the ‘eclipse’ in the script reference this new file, making a process bomb. Don’t name the launcher script ‘eclipse’, or else call /usr/bin/eclipse from the new file.

      • Pat says:

        Further edit: for whatever reason, the script


        won’t work… seems like the absolute path to eclipse breaks something.

  3. jeg says:

    Thanks! These sliders are even worse when you use eclipse with remote X…. because the remote X doesn’t really understand sliders and you can’t use them at all.

  4. Megan says:

    omg thank you so much. that new effect was driving me crazy

  5. dhliidhlii says:

    Thank You !!!

    I tried really hard to like Unity, but after about 5 days everything was harder and worse applications were constantly behaving in unexpected ways. I switched back to the classic interface – but the sliders were driving me nuts. While there were not nearly as troublesome as unity, it was still proving impossible to properly scroll through anything. The savings in real estate is just not worth the additional time needed to find the hidden scroll widget and dragit where needed.

    i should point out that I develop for Windows, Linux and Mac’s. There are many nice things about Mac’s. Apple clearly has a better grasp of style elegance, and graphics. At the same time the Mac interface it still the hardest UI to use, and I am very disappointed that Ubuntu seems intent on borrowing the bad parts along with the good.

    There is talk of killing the classic interface in 11.10. I sincerely hope not as that would require me to quit using Ubuntu.

    While I wish Canonical had the same feel for the UI as I do, they are free to choose as they wish, but so am I.

    • technomagus says:

      I second many things you wrote. I did not like the OS X like way to move the control menus of an active window to top bar. This means just some additional mouse movement – especially hard when using large displays.

      Eye candy may get some Wow effects for a time, but in the end it is the functionality that makes UI either a pleasant experience or your worst nightmare. Functionality is especially important for people who use computer as a professional tool.

      I too hope that classic interface will stay as an option. Although it seems that Ubuntu tries (really hard) to appeal average consumer who usually make their choices according to looks.

      But as you said that you are free to choose you also pointed out the wonderful ‘feature’ of Linux. You are not bound by one version (like in OS X and Windows) which is entirely dictated by The Company. There are several variants to choose from, and you can always customize it any way you want.

  6. Dipal says:

    Thanks Vinicius. Tried your approach. I made the launcher with the same command and now I can use the old style scrollbar only with eclipse! 😀

  7. SAV says:

    There is a problem! the disappearing scrollbars return when you are in superuser.
    Try sudo gedit, and open a text file. Is there any way to fix this?

  8. SAV says:

    I solved the problem.
    sudo apt-get remove liboverlay-scrollbar-0.1-0

  9. Gnomeboy says:

    I like Gnome, but I do hate these stupid sliders. Hope this will be last version with these. Thanks for all those tips to get rid of them.

    • Gnomeboy says:

      Well, they have their disadvantages. But I guess that in the future it will be more eye-candy, not less. My prediction is that they will stay, although I do not like that idea.

  10. Alex Little says:

    Great – thanks for posting this – using Eclipse was a real pain with the new scrollbars.

  11. Lee Hart says:

    Eclipse already has a start-up script (/usr/bin/eclipse). This issue seems Eclipse-specific (unless you don’t like the new scrollies) and it’ll probably get fixed eventually, so I preferred to just add a couple of lines to /usr/bin/eclipse:


  12. Hasan says:

    Thanks. That is a swift solution to my problem.

  13. I had the problem that eclipse bogged down when using the new scroll bars. Removing the new scroll bars fix that problem for me.

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