Introduction to Mutter

Mutter is the window manager for GNOME. It is not invoked directly, but from GNOME Session (on a machine with a hardware accelerated video driver).

This package is known to build and work properly using an LFS 12.1 platform.

Package Information

Mutter Dependencies


gnome-settings-daemon-45.1, graphene-1.10.8, libei-1.2.1, libxcvt-0.1.2, libxkbcommon-1.6.0, and pipewire-1.0.3


Recommended (Required to build the Wayland compositor)


dbusmock-0.30.2 (required for tests), Xorg-Server-21.1.11 (for X11 sessions), and sysprof

Installation of Mutter

Install Mutter by running the following commands:

mkdir build &&
cd    build &&

meson setup --prefix=/usr              \
            --buildtype=release        \
            -Dtests=false              \
            -Dprofiler=false           \
            ..                         &&

The test suite requires an external program called xvfb-run. If you wish to run the tests, you should download and install it before running meson. You can obtain it from xvfb-run, and install it with executable permissions in /usr/bin. xvfb-run needs Xvfb at runtime, and Xvfb can be installed from either Xorg-Server-21.1.11 or Xwayland-23.2.4. You should also replace -Dtests=false in the meson command, with -Dtests=true -Dclutter_tests=false. The test suite requires the mutter schema to be installed on the system, so it is better to run the tests after installing the package.

You can also test basic functions of Mutter following the section called “Starting Mutter”, after installing it.

Now, as the root user:

ninja install

If you wish to run the tests, remove the reference to Zenity which is not a part of BLFS from one test:

sed 's/zenity --[a-z]*/gtk4-demo/' -i ../src/tests/

Now run the test suite:

ninja test

The tests require an active X or wayland session. One test named input-capture is known to fail. A few other tests may fail depending on the configuration. Don't make any mouse or keyboard input while the test suite is running or some tests may fail.

Command Explanations

--buildtype=release: Specify a buildtype suitable for stable releases of the package, as the default may produce unoptimized binaries.

-Dtests=false: Prevents building the tests, and removes a hard requirement on xvfb-run.

-Dprofiler=false: Allow building this package without Sysprof. Remove this option if you've installed Sysprof and want to analysis the rendering performance of Mutter.

-Dtests=true -Dclutter_tests=false: Building all the tests but the tests for the shipped Clutter library. The Clutter tests are known to fail with --buildtype=release.

Starting Mutter

Mutter is normally used as a component of gnome-shell, but it can be used as a standalone Wayland compositor too. To run Mutter as a Wayland compositor, in a virtual console, issue:

mutter --wayland -- vte-2.91

Replace vte-2.91 with the command line for the first application you want in the Wayland session. Note that once this application exits, the Wayland session will be terminated.

Mutter can also function as a nested compositor in another Wayland session. In a terminal emulator, issue:

MUTTER_DEBUG_DUMMY_MODE_SPECS=1920x1080 mutter --wayland --nested -- vte-2.91

Replace 1920x1080 with the size you want for the nested Wayland session.


Installed Programs: mutter
Installed Libraries: and (optional)
Installed Directories: /usr/{lib,include,libexec/installed-tests,share/{,installed-tests}}/mutter-13

Short Descriptions


is a Clutter based compositing GTK+ Window Manager

contains the Mutter API functions

contains the Mutter test suite API functions; this library is only installed if the test suite of this package is enabled and it is needed by gnome-shell test suite