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There are many ways to customize Ubuntu. If you've got any cool additions, add any fairly short items to this page. Otherwise make a new page if the item is a long one, with links going there.

Ubuntu Release 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) or later:

Desktop Themes

Starting from Ubuntu 11.04+ (assuming that you are using unity), you cannot change themes except you can only choose between two default themes. This can be done via right-clicking on the desktop and choose Change Desktop Background. On the theme dropdown box select the themes you want.

More themes can be downloaded from Gnome Look. To install a theme after downloading, a third party tool is needed such as Myunity. Myunity is available in the Ubuntu Software Center or it can be obtained by typing sudo apt-get install myunity in the terminal. Please note that most of the themes are in compressed format tar.gz so to have them available as a choice in Myunity, and probably most other theme tools, extract the file's contents to ~/usr/share/themes for themes, and ~/usr/share/icons for icons, otherwise they will not appear in the Myunity themes tab. Using the theme tab in Myunity you can change themes as well as icons.


Themes can have:

  • Controls - sometimes called GTK Themes

  • Window Borders - sometimes called Metacity Themes

  • Icons.

Most themes include all three elements, but they may also include only one or two of these elements.


To change wallpaper, right-click on your desktop and choose Change Desktop Background. Pick a wallpaper from the list or click on the + button to add an image file to the list.


Prior to Ubuntu Release 11.04:


This is a placeholder article. There needs to be some information on how to fix the horrible fonts that sometimes show up after a system upgrade.

To easily install Microsoft fonts and others, consider using the repository. For fonts that are commonly distributed on Windows computers, install the package msttcorefonts.

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts

For more fonts, browse Synaptic's packages, scrolling down to the packages beginning with ttf-.

The repositories, however, do not list every single font. If one is trying to install a non-free font, one must manually transfer the font from a computer that already has the font installed. On Windows PCs, fonts are normally placed in C:/WINDOWS/FONTS. Simply drag-and-drop the font onto a removable media. (Note: not every font can be transferred this way. Fonts with the extension ".ttf" -- which is most of them -- can be dragged over. Other fonts must be converted, a process which is not explained here.)

On Ubuntu 10.04 or later, fonts can be installed by just opening them and clicking install.

On older versions, fonts can be placed in a number of directories, which are defined in /etc/fonts/fonts.conf * /home/<username>/.fonts (where <username> is replaced with one's username) allows the user to install a font for oneself. Fonts placed here are only accessible for the <username> user. This is useful for one-user systems where there is a separate /home partition on the hard disk, as fonts installed here are not wiped out during a reinstall. * /usr/share/fonts * /usr/local/share/fonts After installing/uninstalling fonts manually, always run "sudo fc-cache -f -v" (without quotes) in a terminal to tell the computer to look for new fonts.

For more information, please consult https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Fonts

Mouse Cursor Themes

Recent editions of Ubuntu include mouse cursors with Desktop Themes, and new cursor themes can be installed in the same manner (see above). To switch between installed mouse cursor themes:

  • Click System → Preferences → Appearance.

  • Select the Theme tab if not already selected.

  • Click Customise.

  • Select the Pointer tab.


For older versions of Ubuntu:

  • Download the theme to an easily accessible location; ~/Desktop is good.
  • Install the gcursor package via Synaptic Package Manager or apt-get.

  • Start gcursor with System → Preferences → Cursor Selection.

  • Select a theme, or click 'Install theme' and select the compressed file to add it.
  • Once you're finished, select the theme you want to use and click "Close"

Translucent Panels

The panels at the top and/or bottom of the screen (containing the GNOME menu, for example) can be set to be translucent, or have an image as a background:

  • Right-click the panel.
  • Select Properties.

  • Select the Background tab.

    • For a translucent panel, select Solid Colour, then move the Style slider to set opacity.

    • For a background image, select Background image, then browse to find the desired image.


The login window is also sometimes called the Gnome Display Manager, or GDM.

  • Click System → Administration → Login Window.

To install new login screen themes, save the .tar.gz with your theme on it to the directory of your choice. In the Login Screen program, press the Install New Theme button, find your new theme's file, and press the Install button.

Then simply select the new theme from the list of available themes. You can also set it up to pick a random theme on every boot, rather than picking just one theme.

Changing the Gnome Splash Screen

  • Install gnome-splashscreen-manager. Start it by selecting System → Preferences → Splash Screen.

  • Install new splash screens with the 'Install' button by navigating to the file you want to use for your splash.

Changing the Colored Background Splash Screen

Originally a brownish color to match the Ubuntu theme, it does not quite fit with other themes and might want to be changed. Enter the gdm.conf file (sudo gedit /etc/gdm/gdm.conf). About two-thirds of the way down you will see the lines:


Change it to what you like. For all black, use:


Getting Regular Art Updates

Gnome Art Manager

Gnome Art provides an easy way to fetch backgrounds, themes, login screen art, and more from art.gnome.org. Just install gnome-art.

sudo apt-get install gnome-art

See Installing Software, and click System → Preferences → Art Manager.

Use the Art menu to select the category you wish to view.

Ubuntu Eyecandy Pages

  • Qt-Gnome: Make KDE applications look the same as Gnome apps.

  • Compiz - Provides smooth, 3D animated window movement, desktop switching, 'expose' like application switching, transparent terminals, and more, including simple graphical configuration tools.

  • GnomeDo: A "Quicksilver"-style launch window.

  • GnomeLaunchBox: Another "Quicksilver"-style launch window.

  • CairoDock - A dock program similar to that on OSX.

  • AvantWindowNavigator - A dock program similar to that on OSX.

  • KSmoothDock: Zooming toolbar alternative or complement for KDE's Kicker.

  • DockbarX: A quick and nifty dock.

  • SimplyStunningLinuxDesktop: An example of a good looking Desktop.

Other Theme & Eyecandy Resources

UbuntuEyeCandy (last edited 2016-01-04 23:21:19 by knome)