Since I upgraded1 from Ubuntu 15.04 to 15.10, I stumbled upon a really frustrating bug of gnome: if I click on a window, it correctly gets the focus but stays in the background (see screenshot below).

Please note that this issue is not related to any particular window or application. It's the whole window manager that screws up!

Screen capture of the strange behaviour

Here, I clicked on the firefox' window, it get the focus --- I can enter keyboard shortcuts for instance --- but the gnome-terminal window sits there ...

If I Alt-Tab, the newly focused window is correctly put in the front.

1) I've got the exact same issue with a newly installed Ubuntu 15.10 from scratch. Maybe it is related to my configuration (I kept my $HOME folder).


  • Linux 4.2 on x86_64
  • Ubuntu 15.10
  • gnome-session 3.16.0-1ubuntu2
  • (ask for more)

What can I do to fix it?

  • Check this thread: askubuntu.com/q/80969
    – whtyger
    Feb 28 '16 at 7:53
  • @whtyger Unfortunately, this is not the same issue, though it is related to focus. I tried the suggested solutions anyway (who knows?) but it didn't help.
    – YSC
    Feb 28 '16 at 10:26
  • Gnome-terminal does have a function "always on top". Normally you can check and un-check it with a right mouse click in the upper part of the terminal. (right from the minimize, maximize, close box). Did you check that already?
    – Underscore
    Feb 28 '16 at 11:02
  • I did. This is not related to the "always on top" feature I think. Question updated.
    – YSC
    Feb 28 '16 at 16:27

Have you checked this out? It's for an older version of Ubuntu (10.04), but the problem seems similar to yours, so it might be worth checking out.

August 19th, 2012 by A Traveller

Re: Windows staying on top Thanks Frogs Hair. Your suggestion has fixed the problem! Here is what I did:-

Press 'Alt + F2' Typed 'gconf-editor' and clicked 'Run'
Expanded 'Apps', then 'Metacity' and the clicked on 'General'
Double-clicked 'raise_on_click' and changed the 'Value' to 'True' by clicking on the button which said 'False' Clicked 'OK' and then closed the Gconf Editor window Voila!

I have read warnings advising against changing the Value to False, but can't remember ever changing it to False. I have played with the location of the maximize, minimize and close buttons but I don't know how the raise-on-click got changed. I did install Ubuntu Tweak recently but don't know if anything I may have changed in that caused the problem.

  • It did not solve my problem, but it lead me to the solution. So thank you.
    – YSC
    Feb 28 '16 at 16:48

Thanks to the suggestion of Phrostatus, I ended up opening gconf-editor and something bizarre happened when I played with its keys. When I opened gnome-tweak-tool, it did not display the same configuration as gconf-editor would. It smelled fishy.

The solution, quite radical, was to reset my entire gnome-session configuration.

  1. Back it up!

    mkdir ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv ./.gnome* ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv .gconf* ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv ./.metacity ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv ./.cache ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv ./.dbus ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv ./.dmrc ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv ./.mission-control ./.gnome-config.bak/ && mv ./.thumbnails ./.gnome-config.bak/   && mv ~/.config/dconf/* ./.gnome-config.bak/
  2. Kill it with fire!

    rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity .cache .dbus .dmrc .mission-control .thumbnails ~/.config/dconf/user ~.compiz*
  3. Close and reopen you session...

  4. Enjoy!

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