Home > Gnome > Customizing GNOME Customizing GNOME Submitted by Jem Matzan 2004-07-01 Gnome 35 Comments For those who think that GNOME’s aesthetics are less than great, this article might get you to change your mind, especially if you’re using mostly GTK-based applications. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 35 Comments 2004-07-01 6:27 pm I love the funcionality of the gnome desktop. I think that the themeing between nautilus and the window manager is ackward at best. I have not found an icon theme that takes care of more than 75% of the desktop and application icons (other than blue curve of course). I have however seen a rise in cool usable window themes. 2004-07-01 6:36 pm The author seems to suggest that his modifications will improve usability. Could someone explain to me how? It seems to me like he mostly makes it more like windows, which is more familiar for a lot of users, but not necessarely more usable. 2004-07-01 6:39 pm The author of this article obviously missed his Windows UI a lot. That is OK… _BUT_ he seems to view the Mac centric defaults as being “bad” where they are really a matter of taste. I for one like them. Did he try to right click on the menus to add program icons instead of typing applications:/// in Nautilus? quoth the author: “There is no easy way to add these programs to the foot menu in GNOME 2.6, so you’ll have to add them manually. Click on the home icon in your menu panel; this brings up the Nautilus file manager in your home directory. Go to the File menu and select Open Location. This brings up a window with a single text field in it. Type in Applications:/// and press the Enter key or click the OK button.” Please, learn to use GNOME before writing an article on how to use it. This means at least playing with it exclusivley for at least a week, if not more: http://www.nerdsyndrome.com/gnome-2.6/img/adding_menu_item.jpg No article on customizing GNOME would be even close to being complete however without talking about getting some SVG themes, which are EASY to install! An example of where to find some sexy SVG action may be found here: http://librsvg.sourceforge.net/theme.php Of course, the second omission is less glaring than the first. There are some useful tips here however, just don’t be so hard on GNOME’s default style… the folks at Apple have a few good UI ideas to be copied as well as the hackers up in Redmond. 2004-07-01 6:40 pm I went through the entire article, and in the end I thought it still looked bad. I think Ximian did a good job with XD2. Still, KDE looks way better and has a better range of themes/styles/color choices/etc to choose from. I think most of this can be attributed to the very active community at http://www.kde-look.org and their smart reviewing system. The Gnome community would be smart to start a site similar to KDE Look. 2004-07-01 6:44 pm Quoth Kyle: “I went through the entire article, and in the end I thought it still looked bad. I think Ximian did a good job with XD2. Still, KDE looks way better and has a better range of themes/styles/color choices/etc to choose from. I think most of this can be attributed to the very active community at http://www.kde-look.org and their smart reviewing system. The Gnome community would be smart to start a site similar to KDE Look.” You mean http://gnome-look.org/ ? Or how about http://librsvg.sourceforge.net/theme.php ? Or better yet http://art.gnome.org/ ? Actually Kyle, both environments are themable to an amaizing degree. Both my KDE and my GNOME desktop shine with the Nuvola SVG icon set (I cannot say enough about these icons, they rock!) 2004-07-01 6:44 pm “The Gnome community would be smart to start a site similar to KDE Look.” http://www.gnome-look.org 2004-07-01 6:44 pm I was pretty disappointed in the article. While I disagree on combining the panels, I was hoping he would point out some of the things I’ve found on my own: Gnome-themes-extras: Complete themes (not the parts & pieces he discusses) in gorgeous SVG. gDesklets: Now this is really customizing your desktop. From weather applets sitting on your desktop to RSS feeds to systems resources, the customization of the desktop to how you want it is pretty amazing. 2004-07-01 6:56 pm the end desktop looks ugly 2004-07-01 7:12 pm Ugliest combination of bloated panel and theme I ever saw. 2004-07-01 7:16 pm KDE in the end. So why would I want to hack around in GNOME, just to make it look like KDE? Why not just run KDE and use GNOME apps? 2004-07-01 7:25 pm Good article for GNOME newbies, but maybe not to others who probably wont get much of the basic guidelines. It would be nice if there were more easy to use ways, tools and/or tutorials about making themes for GNOME. I think that GNOME might need more and better themes. Yes, I know gnome-look, art.gnome, themes.org etc. but most of the themes there don’t look too professional, consistent and clean enough. It is a matter of taste, yes, but the more themes people would make, the more good ones might appear somewhere too. Maybe even a better default theme for GNOME. For example, the default GNOME icon theme is far from consistent in its looks. Making it SVG-based, and doing some clean ups might help a lot, though. The default GNOME gtk-theme is a bit better though a bit grey and dull-looking. GNOME theme extras is a good try to bring better themes to GNOME, but those themes are not always complete, and there could be more of them too. GNOME community might need more people like Everaldo of KDE who has done a lot to help KDE get its consistent clean looks (whether you like his Crystal icons or not). You know, most people do care about the (default and themable) looks of apps a lot too when they decide what desktop environment etc. to use. 2004-07-01 7:28 pm 20 minutes to get Bluecurve look? That’s a lot! apt-get install gtk2-engines-lighthouseblue cat <<EOT > .gtkrc-2.0 include “/usr/share/themes/LightHouseBlue/gtk-2.0/gtkrc” EOT done and done! 2004-07-01 7:38 pm Quoth Metic: “For example, the default GNOME icon theme is far from consistent in its looks. Making it SVG-based, and doing some clean ups might help a lot, though. The default GNOME gtk-theme is a bit better though a bit grey and dull-looking.” I agree that GNOME’s default theme is out of date. I understand that they are intending to include a default SVG theme in GNOME 2.8. Hopefully this rectifies the problem. I think GNOME does have a good variety of well done themes so I am not sure if I agree with you on that point. Of course, having more is always good. I do not see a big discrepancy between the GNOME and KDE theming communities, both seem to be thriving as far as I can see. KDE does have many great themes as well as GNOME, Plastik being one of my favorites… I even use Plastik on my GNOME desktop now, I just love that theme. I must admit however, that I do not like the default Keramik theme much at all. I find it to be downright ugly to be brutally honest. I am also not a big fan of the Crystal-SVG icon theme that ships with KDE by default. However, with Plastik and Nuvola SVG icons, KDE never looked so good for me. Of course, everyone is different and there must be a large audience who likes Keramik if it is the default. I am excited about the potential for technolgies like SVG and OpenGL To really beautify the Linux desktop to the nth degree in the next little while. I think this process is still in its infancy, compared to what is coming! 2004-07-01 7:50 pm An article like this gets published on newsforge? If he did tell the reader some things he couldn’t have figured out in 5 minutes or probably allready knew, but this article? Wow, this is amazing. And someone allready said it, at the end (meaning in the last screenshot) gnome doesn’t look that good. 2004-07-01 7:54 pm I think most of this can be attributed to the very active community at http://www.kde-look.org and their smart reviewing system. The Gnome community would be smart to start a site similar to KDE Look. They do have one: http://www.gnome-look.org I agree that GNOME’s default theme is out of date. I understand that they are intending to include a default SVG theme in GNOME 2.8. Hopefully this rectifies the problem. They’re talking about the Industrial theme for 2.8. I must admit however, that I do not like the default Keramik theme much at all. I find it to be downright ugly to be brutally honest. Yer. The Keramic theme was brave because they tried to have something originally different. In one sense they succeeded, but it is just a bit too much for a default theme. The article itself was pretty useless. He basically moves the panels around to make it look more like Windows at the end. It doesn’t really look any different. 2004-07-01 7:56 pm And if you look closely on the screenshots, you notice he is logged in as root. What kind of message does that send to Gnome (and Linux) newbies?!? Irresponsible… 2004-07-01 8:01 pm The whole article was about making gnome look like KDE or Windows and doesn’t bring anything new. The article should have brought to attention how to do changes that are not as intuitive as the ones presented. Hardly any of the changes made to the deskop needs more than one or two mouseclicks. Showing how to disable the “spatial stuff” in nautilus, or how to use GConf to make some tweaks that cannot be done that easily could have been better. 2004-07-01 8:01 pm The end result of this author’s “customization” is horrible! The panel is so clutered with junk that only one item can fit nicely in the task bar, and the theme is more bland than Windows 2000! “The next step is to consolidate the Applications menu and the Actions menu into one common menu” To me, the words “Applications” and “Actions” is a heck of a lot more usable and intuitive than a foot… If you want a great looking GNOME desktop, take a lot at Dropline GNOME (www.dropline.net). 2004-07-01 8:07 pm @Chris Dunphy Yeah, well, I don’t know if I personally like Keramik + Crystal so very much either… I tend to change those themes to something else. But that’s just a matter of taste. I do think that Keramik + Crystal + KDE look consistent and clean. Crystal icons and Keramik theme blend together well too. So the default KDE theme just looks very consistent. Compare that to GNOME where, for example, the default icons don’t seem to follow any consistent style. Apple OS X is a good example of the meaning of good well-designed looks. I’m pretty sure that one of the major reasons why people think that Mac OS X is so cool and sexy is its chic, slick, professional, and also usability-wise good looks. (Otherwise OS X may not be so superior…) Aesthetics like preferred or non-preferred themes is largely just a matter of taste, of course. But more careful design of consistent, clean default looks too (besides of more technical things) in new GNOME releases is what I am really hoping for. Shouldn’t that also be part of the GNOME HIG? 2004-07-01 8:13 pm Well if David is right… and GNOME 2.8 ships with Industrial as the default theme, consistancy will not be a problem. Industrial does have a consistent look to it. David, do you have a URL where we can read about this? I did read somewhere that a SVG-based default theme would be a target for GNOME 2.6. All we can do is wait I guess. Currently on both desktops I use Plastik for window decorations, and Nuvola SVG for icons. On KDE I use Plastik for controls, where on GNOME i also use the Nuvola controls. My earlier GNOME 2.6 review had screenshots shown with all desktop theme elements set to Nuvola. I change the window decoration to Plastik which imo looks a lot better. 2004-07-01 8:15 pm The SVG theme was a target for GNOME 2.8 not GNOME 2.6… oops. I shall now don the dunce cap of digital disgrace… 2004-07-01 9:35 pm Small: http://www.sourav.net/Screenshot-.png Huge: http://www.sourav.net/Screeenshot.png 2004-07-01 9:46 pm Spent a while finding the correct GTK and nautilus themes for my taste, but I find this setup is productive and attractive http://stuff.marchingcubes.com/Screenshot.png 2004-07-01 10:14 pm and by extension windows. ~blech~ 2004-07-01 10:39 pm David, do you have a URL where we can read about this? I can’t remember exactly, but there was an article on OSNews I think about the features touted for Gnome 2.8. You have to remember that it was being talked about, and the Industrial theme may well evolve into something else by the time of 2.8. 2004-07-02 12:51 am I don’t get it, everytime I install a fresh Fedora system, the first thing I do is to set up a nice double panel layout, which is very similar to the default. I don’t see why the big panel at the bottom is more productive, as the author claims. It doesn’t take up more space than one double sized bottom panel and I still have more room for everything (a large window list, the convenient menu bar, lots of launchers and many applets). The only thing I prefer about the single bottom panel is, that launcher icons are larger and look better (they are usually designed for larger sizes), but that’s it. There is a reason why GNOME and Ximian have changed the layout and the only reason why Red Hat still goes for the old layout AFAIK is consistency with both their older releases and the other desktop environments (KDE can’t be customized properly to be like the GNOME default yet). 2004-07-02 1:07 am Previous comments are right. This person customized Gnome to look like Windows, and a bad windows at that. Here are just a few reasons that end-result is horrible: (1) Though he got rid of the default top bar, his new bar is 48 pixels or more in size, and thus takes up as much screen real estate as two bars would. (2) He leaves BARELY any space at all for window management! Assuming the Window List breaks into two rows, that’s at most 4 usable spaces. This is ridiculous. Has this guy ever coded? Even with grouping, I can sometimes have up to 20 entries in the window list on a single workspace. (3) If he expects to use the Mac-OS style window list in exchange for 2, remember that one must there use two clicks, which doubles the amount of clicking you do in a day. (Corollary: most Gnome users are used to ALT+TAB to replace 2 and 3 in most cases, but there are times the click is faster). (4) His application icons have no room to grow. (5) His dictionary lookup and clock applets are fugly, as is the super-huge volume icon. (6) This layout doesn’t take advantage of the four corners principle (that is, that the corners of the screen are more accessible than any other points on the screen). My layout for gnome can be found here: http://www.pixelmonkey.org/pub/desktop-morning-jun26.jpg I dedicate the whole bottom panel at 24px to task management, and have a small part of it for workspace switching and for show desktop. These two corners are easily clickable if I just throw my mouse into a corner of the screen and click (therefore, I use my 4th workspace as a temporary one). The top panel has my quick-access apps, as well as the foot menu. I use Quick Lounge so that I can add as many apps as I want and access them by the arrow (I keep 15 on the panel showing at all times). I also have room for useful applets on this top panel. Netspeed, gweather, workrave, gnome-system-monitor, gnome-clipboard-manager, volume control, clock_applet, and window_list. The window_list is accessible by top-right corner for times when my task list gets too messy. In terms of extra cool factor, I use multitail to monitor my syslog files on my desktop (through gdesklets). I find this to be a productive work environment. And I should know, been using it to do programming for the last 2 months or so (I did a major makeover of my desktop after 2.6 came out). 2004-07-02 2:04 am Can anybody tell me how I can let my apps cover the panels? I find the panel-is-always-on-top to be one of Gnome’s most annoying traits and its kept me from using it for ages. 2004-07-02 2:55 am Is it only me, or does anybody else have problems adding new menu items to the foot menu in Fedora Core 2? 2004-07-02 5:14 am That’s somthing that redhat has done specifically in in there distro. i think it’s turned off because of a bug or somthing. You have to enable the ability in fedora somehow, I forget how. But I do know it was discussed on the fedora mailing list not to long ago so you could check out the archives. 2004-07-02 6:56 am Strangely enough something as simple as changing the colors is not possible without installing a new theme. Sorry, but I’m not impressed by adding some buttons to a taskbar and putting in a wallpaper. 2004-07-02 7:02 am I read the article in hope to find something about how to configure the order of the icons in the windowborders (close, minimize, menu, …). Maybe it’s off topic but I’m longing to change this for a long time now. The M$ Windows icon style just annoys me. I already did search for it on google. But I’m inept to find anything about it. Could anyone give me a hint how to do that, please? In the end I think the article could be helpful for newbies to get used to some things in Gnome. But there is nothing really new or substantial stuff in it… Anyway, respect to the author for offering an article anyhow. Cheers, der erpl 2004-07-02 7:34 am I read the article in hope to find something about how to configure the order of the icons in the windowborders (close, minimize, menu, …). Maybe it’s off topic but I’m longing to change this for a long time now. The M$ Windows icon style just annoys me. I already did search for it on google. But I’m inept to find anything about it. Could anyone give me a hint how to do that, please? Open Applications->System Tools->Confituration Editor. Browse to apps/metaicty/general and edit the key button_layout. It’s a comma-seperated list of buttons, with a colon seperating the left side from the right. You should be able to figure out the format from what’s there already. 2004-07-02 7:50 am …or how to make it look like KDE. That last screenshot is the worst hack of gnome ever. And I don’t get how making the icons bigger makes more room. There used to be about 80% wide screenspace for tasks; the icons are now so big they leave about 30% screenspace for tasks though twice as high… so 2 times 30% is 60 which is still less than the original setting. And downright ugly. Just MHO ofcourse. 2004-07-02 8:38 am Man, you just saved my live! That it’s that simple… Big thanx!