10 Of The Best Linux Themes Compared

Robert Washbourne - 6 months ago - ubuntu, Gnome, top ten, themes

GTK has some great looks by default. However, it can look better. In the list below are ten of my favorite themes. Themes are packages with CSS code to style the dash, launcher, and panel. They are widely used with gnome and other desktop environments.

The following themes are ranked in order of how many times they were mentioned to me on Google+, with the most mentioned theme at the top. If you think the order is wrong, tell me in the comments, I will fix it up.

Note:This is an updated version of my original post, with eight new themes suggested by the Google+ Ubuntu and GNOME communities.

Adapta

adapta adapta Pictured: My current desktop with Adapta-Nokto GTK and Shell theme

Adapta was recommended in the google and disqus comments from several users, and after installing it I am never going back. If Arc is good, Adapta must be godlike in its beautiful material design. Adapta was initially forked forked from Flat-Plat, which is another good theme you can see on this page.

Variants

  • Adapta + global dark theme = off make all light.
  • Adapta + global dark theme = on make dark Gtk+3 and light Gtk+2.
  • Adapta-Nokto + global dark theme = off make light Gtk+3 and dark Gtk+2.
  • Adapta-Nokto + global dark theme = on make all dark.

Adapta

To use the light theme, select Adapta in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Adapta-Nokto

To use the dark theme, select Adapta-Nokto in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Adapta or Adapta-Nokto as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Adapta

Main desktops that work with Adapta are

  • GNOME >= 3.20 (or 3.18)
  • GNOME-Flashback >= 3.18.0
  • Budgie-Desktop >= 10.2.5
  • Unity7 >= 7.4.0
  • Cinnamon >= 3.0.1 (or 2.8.6)
  • XFce4 >= 4.12.

Install from PPA or from Git.

+ Installation from PPA (Ubuntu 16.04)

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:tista/adapta -y  
sudo apt update  
sudo apt install adapta-gtk-theme  

+ Installation from Source

Download and unzip to your theme folder. This is usually /usr/share/themes.


Numix

numix numix Pictured: My desktop with Numix GTK theme

Numix is the theme for the Numix project, and it goes well with their popular circle icons. It is decorated with the numix colors, and its a fun theme to have on your computer.

How to Install Numix

Works on GNOME, Unity, Xfce and Openbox.

Install from PPA or from Git.

+ Installation from PPA (Ubuntu)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa  
sudo apt update  
sudo apt install numix-gtk-theme  

+ Arch Linux

Install from community repo.

pacman -S numix-themes  

Vertex

vertex vertex Pictured: My desktop with Vertex GTK and Shell theme

Vertex is by the same guy who made Arc, and yet again, he did an amazing job. Vertex is like a realism version of the flat arc, with textures and shadows on the ui.

Vertex Light

To use the dark theme, select Vertex-Light in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Vertex Dark Headers

To use the light theme, select Vertex in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Vertex Dark

To use the dark theme, select Vertex-Dark in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Adapta or Adapta-Nokto as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Vertex

Works on GTK 3, GTK 2, Gnome-Shell and Cinnamon. The theme comes with three variants to choose from. The default variant with dark header-bars, a light variant, and a dark variant (see above descriptions)

+ Ubuntu and flavours

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/Horst3180/xUbuntu_16.04/ /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/vertex-theme.list"  
sudo apt update  
sudo apt install vertex-theme  

+ openSUSE

Support for Tumbleweed, Leap 42.1, and openSUSE 13.2. Run all commands as root to install.

Tumbleweed

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/home:Horst3180.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install vertex-theme  

Leap 42.1

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/openSUSE_Leap_42.1/home:Horst3180.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install vertex-theme  

openSUSE 13.2

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/openSUSE_13.2/home:Horst3180.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install vertex-theme  

+ Fedora

Works on 24, 23, 22, and 21. Run the commands as root or it won't work.

Fedora 24

dnf config-manager --add-repo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_24/home:Horst3180.repo  
dnf install vertex-theme  

Fedora 23

dnf config-manager --add-repo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_23/home:Horst3180.repo  
dnf install vertex-theme  

Fedora 22

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/  
wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_22/home:Horst3180.repo  
yum install vertex-theme  

Fedora 21

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/  
wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_21/home:Horst3180.repo  
yum install vertex-theme  

+ Debian 8.0

echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/Horst3180/Debian_8.0/ /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/vertex-theme.list  
apt update  
apt install vertex-theme  

+ Arch Linux

Arch users can install from AUR.
aur.archlinux.org/packages/vertex-themes

Arc

arc theme arc theme Pictured: My current desktop with Arc Dark GTK and Shell theme. I have modified Arc with a transparent header. The icons are numix circle.

Arc is one of the more popular GTK themes, and rightly so. It comes with a window theme and a shell theme, and it has three color variants. This was my favorite theme until I found Adapta, which is built on top of Arc Dark.

Light

To use the light theme, select Arc in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Dark Headers

To use the dark headers theme, select Arc Darker in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Dark

To use the dark theme, select Arc Darker in the Theme > GTK+ section of Tweak Tool. (Or however you do it in your platform.)

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Arc or Arc Dark as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Arc

Main distributions that work with Arc are

  • Arch Linux and Arch Linux based distros
  • Ubuntu 15.04, 15.10 and 16.04
  • elementary OS Freya
  • Debian 8
  • Gentoo
  • Fedora 21 - 24
  • openSUSE 13.2, Leap 42.1 and Tumbleweed

Derivatives of these distributions should also work. To download the solid theme without transparency, change every command url from /arc-theme.list to /arc-theme-solid.list.

+ Ubuntu and flavours

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/Horst3180/xUbuntu_16.04/ /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/arc-theme.list"  
sudo apt update  
sudo apt install arc-theme  

+ openSUSE

Support for Tumbleweed, Leap 42.1, and openSUSE 13.2. Run all commands as root to install.

Tumbleweed

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/home:Horst3180.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install arc-theme  

Leap 42.1

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/openSUSE_Leap_42.1/home:Horst3180.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install arc-theme  

openSUSE 13.2

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/openSUSE_13.2/home:Horst3180.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install arc-theme  

+ Fedora

Works on 23, 22, and 21. Run the commands as root or it won't work.

Fedora 24

dnf config-manager --add-repo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_24/home:Horst3180.repo  
dnf install arc-theme  

Fedora 23

dnf config-manager --add-repo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_23/home:Horst3180.repo  
dnf install arc-theme  

Fedora 22

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/  
wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_22/home:Horst3180.repo  
yum install arc-theme  

Fedora 21

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/  
wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:Horst3180/Fedora_21/home:Horst3180.repo  
yum install arc-theme  

+ Debian 8.0

echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/Horst3180/Debian_8.0/ /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/arc-theme.list  
apt update  
apt install arc-theme  

+ Arch Linux

Arch users can install from AUR.
aur.archlinux.org/packages/gtk-theme-arc/

Paper

Pictured: My desktop with the Paper GTK and Shell theme. Shown with Paper icon pack.

Paper is a theme suit of flat design for Ubuntu. They have a theme, icons and even cursors to make your linux flatter then ever.

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Paper as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Paper

Paper supports most OS-es and desktop environments.

+ Ubuntu & Debian

Install with a deb package.

+ Fedora

Supports 23 & 22.

Fedora 23

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/  
wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:snwh:paper/Fedora_23/home:snwh:paper.repo  
yum install paper-gtk-theme  

Fedora 22

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/  
wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:snwh:paper/Fedora_22/home:snwh:paper.repo  
yum install paper-gtk-theme  

+ OpenSuse

Supports openSUSE Tumbleweed, openSUSE 13.2, openSUSE 13.1

Tumbleweed

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:snwh:paper/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/home:snwh:paper.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install paper-gtk-theme  

openSUSE 13.2

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:snwh:paper/openSUSE_13.2/home:snwh:paper.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install paper-gtk-theme  

openSUSE 13.1

zypper addrepo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:snwh:paper/openSUSE_13.1/home:snwh:paper.repo  
zypper refresh  
zypper install paper-gtk-theme  

+ Arch Linux

Arch users can install from AUR.
aur.archlinux.org/packages/gtk-theme-arc/

Super Flat

Picture 1 of Super Flat Picture 2 of Super Flat

Pictured: My desktop with the Super Flat Shell theme. Shown with Super Flat Remix icon pack.

Super Flat is an update of the theme Super Flat Remix, fixing lots of issues with text coloring and such. Super Flat adds lots of great effects to your desktop, such as the shadows on my left dash panel (first screenshot). It comes with only a shell theme, and no GTK theme, so try this shell theme out with Arc, it looks very good.

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Super Flat as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Super Flat

Super Flat will work with any machine with GTK and a theme folder. Just download the zip and unzip it to your theme folder. (This is usually /usr/share/themes/). To make this theme work, you have to use the directory from the inside the download, it will not work with the main folder.

Flat-Plat

Pictured: Flat-Plat GTK and Shell theme

Flat-Plat is another good flat theme for Gnome. Adapta was build on top of Flat-Plat and they both use the same material design. Make sure to install Flat-Plat for the correct version of gnome, if you don't it gets messed up.

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Flat-Plat as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Flat-Plat

Flat-Plat is also a zip file. Just unzip and move to your theme folder (usually this is /usr/share/themes).

Xenlism Minimalism

Pictures

Pictured: My desktop with Xenlism Minimalism GTK and Shell theme.

Minimalism has a transparent panel, and it looks very good. However, my main issue with it is that it is very bright and it styles some applications to a unreadable font. This is easily fixed with some css magic, however.

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Xenlism Minimalism as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Xenlism Minimalism

Main distributions that work with Xenlism Minimalism are

  • Arch Linux and Arch Linux based distros
  • Ubuntu 15.04, 15.10 and 16.04
  • Debian 8
  • Any *Nix machine

Details for each platform are below.

+ Ubuntu and flavours

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 90127F5B  
echo "deb http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/xenlism-wildfire/repo deb/" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list  
sudo apt update  
sudo apt install xenlism-minimalism-theme  

+ Arch Linux

Install with pacman.

sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf  

add config section to /etc/pacman.conf

[xenlism-arch]
SigLevel = Never  
Server = http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/xenlism-wildfire/repo/arch  

Update System and Install Xenlism Minimalism.

sudo pacman -Syyu  
sudo pacman -S xenlism-minimalism-theme  

+ Anything else

Works on most *nix systems with wget, curl, or git.

Install with wget

bash <(wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xenlism/minimalism/master/INSTALL/online.install)  

Install with curl

bash <(curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xenlism/minimalism/master/INSTALL/online.install)  

Install with git

cd /tmp;git clone https://github.com/xenlism/minimalism.git;bash /tmp/minimalism/INSTALL/offine.install;  

Apple Arc OSX

Pictures of Apple Arc OSX

Apple Arc is a nice theme for people used to Apple design: blurred top panel, transparent elements, and a different dock. I don't use Apple Arc mainly because I want my Linux to look like Linux, not like mac, but its up to you how your computer should look and Apple Arc is a good choice.

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Apple Arc as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Apple Arc

This will work for GTK. Just download and unzip to /usr/share/themes.

Lexis

Pictures of Lexis

Pictured: My desktop with Lexis Shell theme.

Lexis is a theme that makes a statement; however weird that sounds. Lexis is the only theme I know of the panel empty and the toolbars colored. I like it that way. Lexis comes with just a shell theme.

Shell theme

If you have the user themes extension, you can select Lexis as your Shell theme in Tweak Tool > Themes.

How to Install Lexis

This will work only for GNOME Shell. Just download and unzip to /usr/share/themes.


If you haven't read the original article, check it out. It has 3 themes not in here.

This is part of my Ubuntu collection.
To see other topics in Ubuntu, follow this link.
To see other topics in Gnome, follow this link.
Do you like these desktop themes? Do you hate them? Drop a line in the comments below with your favorite desktop theme, and I'll be sure to take a look.

If you want the wallpapers that I used, Here is the imgur gallery I made.

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