Removing overlay scrollbars

One of the features of the Unity interface that I (and many others) don’t like very much is the use of overlay scrollbars. These “pop-up” devices have replaced the more traditional scrollbars that normally appear on the right side of an application’s window. Actually, this isn’t true of all applications as some (sensible) programmers have maintained the traditional scrollbars, even when running under Unity. This is true of programs like LibreOffice Writer and Firefox but, for example, is not the case for applications such as Nautilus. Now, we know from past experience that Ubuntu is very configurable, but we also know that, sometimes, tweaking the configuration can be tricky. So, the question becomes – how do we disable the overlay scrollbars in Unity?

There are two main strategies posted on the web. One attempts to disable the overlay scrollbars by creating a command file buried in the \etc folder, and using a “LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0” setting, while the other suggests just removing the “overlay-scrollbar” package. Unfortunately, neither of these solutions worked as advertised in my specific case. Turning off the overlay scrollbars seemed to have absolutely no effect, neither did using the command to remove the overlay-scrollbar package have the desired effect.

Eventually, I came across a recent posting, specific to Ubuntu 11.10, indicating to remove the relevant package through the Ubuntu Software Centre.

Searching for liboverlay-scrollbar actually lists four packages, two of which are listed as “dev files” and the other two as “shared lib”.

The instructions were to remove the file “Scrollbar overlayed widget – shared lib liboverlay-scrollbar 3-0.2-0” which also had the effect of removing the associated liboverlay-scrollbar 3-0.2-dev file. However, given my previous lack of success in removing a single overlay file using a Terminal command, I opted to additionally remove liboverlay-scrollbar-0.2-0 (and hence the associated liboverlay-scrollbar-0.2-dev file).

With all of the overlay-scrollbar packages removed, rebooting the computer showed Nautilus to once again be sporting its traditional – always-visible – scrollbars on the right side of the program window.

So, my thanks to Baban Gaigole, an Oracle Support Engineer, and his Hash Prompt blog for this sage advice.

References:

How To Disable The Overlay Scrollbars In Ubuntu 11.04 [Quick Tip]
http://www.webupd8.org/2011/04/how-to-disable-overlay-scrollbars-in.html

Ubuntu 11.10 Overlay Scrollbar Removal
http://hashprompt.blogspot.com/2011/12/ubuntu-1110-overlay-scrollbar-removal.html

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