Setting a Gnome Theme

GNOME supports themes to modify the appearance of assorted on-screen elements—window borders, button styles, and so on. Although they're not officially part of the theme, you can also modify other elements, such as the desktop background. To modify themes, select Application 0 Desktop Preferences O Theme from the Menu Panel. (Again, the exact location of this option varies from one system to another.) This action brings up the Theme Preferences dialog box shown in Figure 6.10. Click a theme and GNOME immediately changes the display to match your selection.

Figure 6.10: The GNOME Theme Preferences dialog box lets you adjust the

appearance of various window and desktop elements.

If you want to exercise greater control over a theme, select it and click Details. GNOME displays a Theme Details dialog box in which you can control three sets of options, each from its own tab:

Controls These are the widgets that appear within GNOME windows—buttons, tabs, menu bars, and so on. Changing the controls doesn't affect most non-GTK+ programs, though.

Window Borders You can alter the appearance of window borders (particularly drag bars) by using this tab. This option affects both GTK+ and non-GTK+ applications.

Icons Most distributions ship with several sets of GNOME icons you can select. These icons appear on the desktop, in GNOME menus, and so on.

In addition to adjusting these features, you can set the desktop background by selecting Applications O Desktop Preferences O Background from the Menu Panel. This action produces the Background Preferences dialog box, in which you can select a background image or set the background to a solid color or a gradient.

If you're dissatisfied with the selection of themes that came with your system, you can retrieve additional themes from various websites, such as,, or These themes typically come as tarballs that expand into similarly named subdirectories. For instance, silly-theme.tar.gz might expand into a directory called SillyTheme. You should place this directory in the /usr/share/themes directory if all users should be able to access it, or you should place it in the -/.themes directory in your home directory if only you need to use it.

To make new background images available, place them in the directory that the Background Preferences dialog box uses by default. (This location varies from one installation to another.) You can select images from other locations if you prefer, but placing an image in the default location is the simplest course of action.

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