03 May 2012

131. Sort of Fixed: Gnome-screenshot (3.4.1) broken in debian testing -- how to fix it

UPDATE 9/6/2012: It's becoming incrasingly difficult to revert back to the old version of gnome-screenshot, hence the changed title of the post. I can't believe the gnome-screenshot hasn't been reverted back to a more sane behaviour -- any behaviour that leads to a score of bug reports (remember that there's a lot of self-censorship as few people submit bug reports even if they encounter a bug) is highly undesirable. I would not include screenshot in my posts if I hadn't already put a hold on my gnome-screenshot package. Anyway, keep an eye on this one for (a lack of) updates: https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=669629

Original post
Something weird happened after the updates today (http://verahill.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/todays-3rd-of-may-2012-debian.html). When taking screenshots I didn't get a save dialogue.

I naturally presumed this to be a crippling bug:


** (gnome-screenshot:8520): WARNING **: Unable to use GNOME Shell's builtin screenshot interface, resorting to fallback X11. Error: GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.Failed: Error: Expected type utf8 for Argument 'filename' but got type 'boolean' (nil)
After reading bug reports I noticed that a new screenshot shows up in the ~/Pictures folder -- but you get no dialogue re saving and name etc, so I might be forgiven for thinking that it didn't work at all. Yet, something was clearly out of whack.

Yes. The broken behaviour is a design feature. It's idiotic.

I like gnome-shell now that I've customized it. But seriously, what the gnome devs want as default behaviour can only be considered as broken behaviour by any long term desktop user. This new behaviour is idiotic and will only benefit those who don't use screenshot very often  -- those who do will definitely want control over where screenshots are saved and under what names.

The worst, intended 'solution':
If I would guess at the intentions of the gnome dev/s, they'd suggest you map your print scrn key to gnome-screenshot -i. This brings up a dialogue. Asking you to select full screen, window or area. You can then click on take screen shot, and you then get the save dialogue. Suddenly it got a lot less convenient. Something that was quick and easy now has become clunky.

The better solution:
I used the snapshot archive:

1. Download the previous version, e.g. 
wget http://snapshot.debian.org/archive/debian/20120313T034114Z/pool/main/g/gnome-utils/gnome-screenshot_3.2.1-3_amd64.deb

2. And install
 sudo dpkg -i gnome-screenshot_3.2.1-3_amd64.deb 
dpkg: warning: downgrading gnome-screenshot from 3.4.1-1 to 3.2.1-3.
3. Prevent the package from being upgraded again:
sudo su
echo "gnome-screenshot hold"|dpkg --set-selections

The behaviour should now be back to usable.

This post contained no screenshots. For obvious reasons.

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  1. Hareesh Rajendran16 July, 2012 17:31

    So I guess this is not going to change. I was unpleasantly surprised when I discovered this in new version of Fedora.

    And reading through the comments of Mr McCann made me realize that I wouldn't want to continue using Gnome. Particularly this line: 'If you can defer an action you almost always should'

    It is from https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=652487, very enlightening and entertaining read. Notice how Paolo Borelli tries to voice the concern shared by actual users.

    A good DE provides control and comfort, doesn't trade one for the other. Good to know there are others who feel strongly about this.

    1. Hareesh,
      Interesting reading -- cheers for the link. It's hard to argue with people when they have already made their minds up, which seems to be the case in that thread.

      As Tobias Wolf says: "The new gnome-screenshot with this popped up in Ubuntu+1 yesterday and we have
      8 dupes about this already"

      Anyway, it might seem like a small thing to outsiders, but this gnome-screenshot debacle is exactly what keeps me constantly looking for an alternative DE.

      I'm also concerned that while there was at least some discussion about this in the beginning, it has stopped. Canonical 'solved' it by testing for whether Unity is running or not: if Unity is running the old, good behaviour is invoked. If not (i.e. Gnome-shell) then the new, broken behaviour is invoked.

      Their motivation is that the GNOME devs have requested that no downstreams changes should be made -- and that makes me think that e.g. Debian will never do anything about this.

      Perhaps a fork is in order?

      Finally, my 'longterm' fix has been top compile my own version of gnome-screenshot: http://verahill.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/fixing-gnome-screenshot-341-in-debian.html

      It's not ideal since it won't remember the last save directory, but it's still less screwed up than the new behaviour.

  2. It was a great solution, until ubuntu decided it wasn't...

    dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of gnome-screenshot:
    gnome-screenshot depends on gnome-utils-common (>= 3.2); however:
    Package gnome-utils-common is not installed.
    gnome-screenshot depends on gnome-utils-common (<< 3.3); however:
    Package gnome-utils-common is not installed.
    dpkg: error processing gnome-screenshot (--configure):
    dependency problems - leaving unconfigured

    So with that broken, there's no easy way to revert the screenshot tool back to what it needs to be, there's no way to purge it, there's no way to do any updates. Pretty much screwed.

    1. Peter,
      You might want to have a look at this post which will work:

      The 'funny' thing is that the ubuntu version is actually already patched -- it checks whether you're running unity, and if you are, it enables the original behaviour. Now, if they would only do that for gnome-shell as well...

  3. Trhough the same circle of evens found your solution and it worked. . .Thank you